Getting arrested for DUI does not mean you will be convicted. Police misconduct, defective breathalyzers and crime lab mistakes may be enough to get your charges lessened or dismissed. Visit our page on Colorado DUI Laws to learn more.
Colorado mandatory minimum sentencing – what it means
Mandatory Minimum Sentencing in Colorado – 5 Things to Know
Colorado’s mandatory minimum sentencinglaw requires defendants convicted of certain high-level crimes to serve no less than the minimum allowable prison sentence. Crimes that carry mandatory minimums under Colorado law include: Class 1 felonies, drug felonies, crimes of violence, sex offenses, and habitual criminals. The sentencing court judges in these cases do not have the discretion to grant sentences lower than the mandatory minimum.
Class 1 felonies
The mandatory minimum penalty for class 1 felonies is a life sentence in the Colorado Department of Corrections (DOC) without the possibility of parole.1 If the defendant was under 18 (a juvenile) at the time of the offense, the mandatory minimum is life imprisonment with the possibility of parole after 40 years.2
12 years in prison, if there are aggravating circumstances.3
There is no mandatory minimum prison term for other controlled substance felonies unless the defendant has two or more previous felony convictions. In that case, the criminal justice system requires defendants to serve no less than the minimum sentence of the presumptive range for that drug offense:
Colorado drug felony
Mandatory minimum if defendant has two or more prior felony convictions
Unlawful termination of a pregnancy (first- or second-degree)
Any crime against an at-risk juvenile or at-risk adult7
People convicted of Colorado sex crimes – such as sexual assault (CRS 18-3-402) – must serve at least the minimum in the presumptive sentencing range for the particular offense.8 But if the sex offense also qualifies as a crime of violence, the mandatory minimum sentence is the midpoint in the presumptive range for the particular offense.9
Note that if the sex offense conviction makes the defendant a habitual sex offender against children, the mandatory minimum is three times the upper limit of the presumptive range for the particular offense.10
Also note that if the defendant tested positive for HIV before committing the sex offense, the mandatory minimum is the upper limit of the presumptive range for the particular offense.11
The mandatory minimum for repeat offender sentencing turns on the type of habitual criminal they are adjudicated as:
Habitual offender in Colorado
Mandatory minimum (in general)
For level 1 drug felonies, 48 years in prison.
For other felonies, three times the maximum presumptive sentence.12
For level 1 drug felonies, 64 years in prison.
For other felonies, four times the presumptive maximum sentence13
Life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years14
People sentenced under the “three strikes” statute after a conviction for a third level 1 drug felony, a class 1 or 2 felony, or a class 3 felony crime of violence.
Life in prison with the possibility of parole after 40 years15
Habitual burglary offender
Greater than the presumptive maximum term16
Other crimes with mandatory minimums
Mandatory minimum sentence
Robbery, if the victim is an at-risk adult or an at-risk juvenile
4 years in prison17
Felony theft from a store, and the defendant has at least two “felony from a store” convictions in the prior four years
The minimum of the presumptive range for the theft offense, which depends on the value of the items stolen18
Escape from custody
The minimum of the presumptive range for the offense, which depends on what crime the defendant was originally incarcerated for19
Removal of explosives or incendiary devices from the premises without express consent from the lawful user, vendor, transporter, or manufacturer
For explosives or incendiary devices, 2 years in prison20
For chemical, biological, or radiological weapons, 4 years in prison21
Call our DUI and criminal law firm for legal advice. Our criminal defense attorneys offer free consultations.
Arrested for a felony or misdemeanor? Contact our Colorado criminal defense lawyers now. We may be able to negotiate with the District Attorney to get your criminal case reduced to lesser charges or dismissed. We fight to keep you out of state prison, county jail, and community corrections.
We have law offices in Denver, Greeley, and Colorado Springs, and we serve clients throughout the state.
CRS 18--1.3--801(1.5). Colorado’s General Assembly decided not to apply “little habitual” laws to class 6 felonies. And note that a fourth conviction involving domestic violence labels the defendant as a habitual domestic violence offender.
CRS 18--8--208.1(5); CRS 18-8-208(9).
About the Author
Michael Becker has over a quarter-century's worth of experience as an attorney and more than 100 trials under his belt. He is a sought-after legal commentator and is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Nevada, California, and Florida.