Colorado Felony Sentencing

Outside of a prison, with guard tower and barbed wire
In Colorado, felonies are punishable by sentencing to prison

How Colorado defines a felony

Felony crimes are the most serious criminal offenses that can be charged. In Colorado, a felony is a crime punishable by a year or more in prison and/or a significant fine.

To help you better understand how Colorado defines a felony, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss, below:

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1. Colorado felony classifications

Colorado felony crimes (other than drug felonies) are divided into 6 basic classes: class 1, class 2, class 3, class 4, class 5, and class 6. In addition, Colorado has certain unclassified felonies, the punishment for which is defined in the statute setting forth the offense. 

Drug felonies fall into four different levels: levels DF1 - DF4. Each is punished less severely than non-drug felonies with the same classification.

For each felony classification, there is a “presumptive” sentencing range. This is the range that applies if there are no aggravating factors and a defendant is sentenced to prison.

Not all those convicted of felonies are incarcerated, however. Colorado law authorizes many alternatives to prison, including:

  • Deferred prosecution, 
  • Deferred sentencing, 
  • Probation, and 
  • Community corrections.

Deferred prosecution and sentencing allow defendants to attend appropriate counseling and education courses (for instance, for anger management or drug treatment). Upon successful completion of such classes, charges are reduced to misdemeanors or, in some cases, dismissed.

2. Presumptive sentencing range and fines for Colorado felonies (non-drug)

The presumptive (regular) ranges for non-drug felonies committed after on or after July 1, 1993 are as follows:

Felony category

Sentence

Class 1

Life imprisonment or death penalty

Class 2

8 – 24 years

Class 3 extraordinary risk

4 – 16 years

Class 3

4 – 12 years

Class 4 extraordinary risk

2 – 8 years

Class 4

2 – 6 years

Class 5 extraordinary risk

1 – 4 years

Class 5

1 – 3 years

Class 6 extraordinary risk

1 - 2 years

Class 6

1 year – 18 months

Unclassified

As set forth in statute

Possible fines for both regular and extraordinary risk (enhanced) felonies in each class are:

Felony category

Fine

Class 1

none

Class 2

$5,000 - $1,000,000

Class 3

$3,000 - $750,000

Class 4

$2,000 - $500,000

Class 5

$1,000 - $100,000

Class 6

$1,000 - $100,000

Unclassified

As set forth in statute

3. Presumptive sentencing ranges and fines for Colorado drug felonies

The presumptive prison sentencing ranges for drug felonies are:

Drug felony category

Sentence

Level 1 drug felony

8 – 32 years

Level 2 drug felony

4 – 8 years

Level 3 drug felony

2 – 4 years

Level 4 drug felony

6 months – 1 year

Possible fines for drug felonies are:

Level 1 drug felony

$5,000 - $1,000,000

Level 2 drug felony

$3,000 - $750,000

Level 3 drug felony

$2,000 - $500,000

Level 4 drug felony

$1,000 - $100,000

In addition to these fines, those convicted of Colorado drug offenses are subject to a drug offender surcharge in an amount ranging from $1,500 - $4,500.

4. Enhanced felony sentences

In addition to sentencing alternatives, Colorado law specifies numerous circumstances in which the presumptive range of punishment for a felony can be increased (or, more rarely, decreased).

Some of the most common sentencing enhancements are for when the crime is:

  • A Colorado extraordinary risk crime,
  • A Colorado crime of violence,
  • An “aggravated” offense, or
  • A crime committed under circumstances which require an aggravated sentencing range (such as committing a drug felony while on probation for another felony).

If you are convicted of a Colorado extraordinary risk crime, the minimum sentence for your offense will remain the same, but the maximum possible sentence will increase by as much as two years.

Extraordinary risk crimes include:

  • Aggravated robbery; 
  • Child abuse; 
  • Unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, sale, or possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell, distribute, manufacture, or dispense; 
  • Sale or distribution of materials to manufacture a controlled substance;
  • Stalking;
  • Felony invasion of privacy for sexual gratification; and
  • All crimes of violence.

And if your offense is a Colorado crime of violence, the court must sentence you to a mandatory prison term of:

  • A minimum of the midpoint of the presumptive range for such offense, to
  • A maximum of twice the ordinary maximum for offenses of that class.

Colorado crimes of violence include:

  • Any crime against an at-risk adult or at-risk juvenile;
  • Murder;
  • First or second degree assault;
  • Kidnapping;
  • Certain sex crimes (including rape, sexual assault and sexual contact);
  • Any additional sexual offense in which threat, intimidation, or force was used or the victim suffered a bodily injury;
  • Aggravated robbery;
  • First degree arson;
  • First degree burglary;
  • Escape;
  • Criminal extortion; and
  • First or second degree unlawful termination of pregnancy.

Call us for help…

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If you or someone you know has been charged with a Colorado felony offense, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. Our caring Colorado criminal lawyers represent clients throughout the state of Colorado on felony charges ranging from felony DUI and drug possession to violent crimes such as sexual assault and murder.

Communities we serve include Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Thornton, Arvada, Westminster, Centennial and Boulder.

We can be reached most quickly using the form on this page. You can also call us at our Denver home office:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202
720-955-6112

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