Criminal Charges and Penalties

Felony & Misdemeanor Criminal Charges in Colorado

In Colorado, the State's criminal laws and offenses can be found in Colorado Revised Statutes Title 18 for adults, and Title 19 for juveniles. Some criminal procedure is also codified under Title 16. City criminal laws and offenses can be found under the municipal code for the particular city in Colorado that you are charged in. Two good resources to find municipal codes online for free are Municode.com and ColoCode.com.

Colorado state crimes are classified as one of three (3) main categories: felony, misdemeanor, and petty offense. The exact type of classification will not only be identified in the language of the law of statute charged, but can also be deduced from the possible range of punishment.

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Felony crimes carry the threat of being incarcerated in a prison, as differentiated from a jail. Felony crimes also carry a longer period of time for incarceration and a mandatory period of parole. There are only six (6) classes of felonies in Colorado, a class 6 felony being the least serious (i.e. certain drug offenses) and a class 1 felony being the most serious (i.e. homicide).See the chart on this page which lists the typical range of prison sentences for each class of felony. A defendant should also be advised that certain crimes of violence, aggravating facts, or habitual offenses can double or even triple the typical range prison sentences. Note that It is still possible to receive probation when convicted of a felony, so long as the defendant does not have more than two (2) prior felonies on their record. Other alternatives to prison sentences also exist. Besides prison, felony convictions can also have adverse consequences on employment opportunities, education, student loans, driving licenses, and the ability to own firearms. Felony charges entitle the defendant to a trial by a jury of 12 people. Juveniles are not entitled to a jury trial and can only receive a maximum sentence of two (2) years in the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC).

Misdemeanor crimes carry the threat of being incarcerated in jail, as differentiated from a prison. Misdemeanor crimes also carry a shorter period of time for incarceration and no period of parole. There are only three (3) classes of misdemeanors in Colorado, a class 3 misdemeanor being the least serious (i.e. some child abuse offenses) and a class 1 misdemeanor being the most serious (i.e. some assault cases). See the chart on this page which lists the typical range of jail sentences for each class of misdemeanor. Probation is often used as a punishment in misdemeanor cases, unless the defendant has a significant criminal history. Misdemeanor charges entitle the defendant to a trial by a jury of six people. Juveniles are not entitled to a jury trial and can only receive a maximum sentence of two (2) years in the Division of Youth Corrections (DYC).

City crimes are considered a separate classification and called municipal violations. Municipal violations cover a wide range of offenses, from traffic violations to domestic violence assault crimes. Municipal court procedure differs from state court procedure, and a defendant's substantive and constitutional rights are limited. The most noticeable limitation is the lack of due process in the discovery or "evidence" disclosure process prior to trial. Many times municipal trials are done with very little information prior to trial, making it difficult to prepare. Municipal violations can carry a penalty of up to one (1) year in jail, however probation and fines are often used as punishment in municipal cases unless the defendant has a significant criminal history. Municipal charges that carry a jail sentence entitle the defendant to a trial by a jury of up to six people.

Possible Criminal Penalties in Colorado:

Felony Charges
Misdemeanor Charges
CLASS 1: Life or Death
CLASS 1: 6 to 18 months jail
CLASS 2: 8 to 24 years prison
CLASS 2: 3 to 12 months jail
CLASS 3: 4 to 12 years prison
Class 3: 0 to 6 months jail
CLASS 4: 2 to 6 years prison
CLASS 5: 1 to 3 years prison
CLASS 6: 12 to 18 months prison
In 2013 the Colorado state legislature reclassified drug crimes, which included revising possible punishments. If you have been accused of a drug crime, click here.

We can help you if you have been charged with any of the following criminal offenses. Click on the hyper links below to read the substantive law and elements of particular offenses:

Misdemeanor Charges

Felony Charges

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