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 Felony Sentencing Guidelines – 3 Things to Know
Colorado felony sentences carry prison terms, fines, or both. There are six different classes of felonies and four different classes of drug felonies, each with its own sentencing range. But it may be possible to get probation and a suspended sentence in lieu of prison for certain criminal offenses.
Deferred prosecution: The district attorney holds off bringing charges while the defendant receives treatment. And if the defendant completes the diversion program, the charges are never filed.
A suspended sentence: The defendant gets convicted but can avoid prison as long as he/she completes various probationary terms, such as community service, treatment, and avoiding alcohol and drugs.
Community corrections: Defendants – sometimes under residential supervision – work at a job for a particular amount of time while completing other sentencing terms.
However, defendants who violate any court orders face a revocation of their alternative sentencing and can be remanded to prison.
Alternatively, the defendant’s criminal defense lawyer may be able to get the charges reduced to a misdemeanor or petty offense with a shorter county jail sentence or just a fine.
2. Colorado has a three strikes law
Colorado courts impose enhanced sentences on habitual criminals, who are defendants convicted of multiple felonies over several different criminal cases. Such offenders face a life sentence if:
They have been convicted of any class 1 or 2 felony, level 1 drug felony, or class 3 felony that is a crime of violence; and
They have been twice convicted previously for any of the above offenses.
Habitual offenders also include people who are convicted of a third felony (any class 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 felony or a level 1, 2, or 3 drug felony) in 10 years: Then the punishment would be three times the maximum presumptive range of the third felony. And people convicted of four felonies in ten years generally face four times the maximum presumptive sentence of the fourth felony.1
3. Colorado sentencing laws are complicated
Under Colorado law, felony convictions never carry one specific number of years in prison; instead, the prison sentence is a range – also known as an indeterminate sentence. And the court has discretion over whether to sentence a defendant to the lower or higher end of the range. Furthermore, each felony has a different prison range depending on the circumstances.
For example, a class 6 felony crime – the least serious felony category – has a presumptive sentence of one year to 18 months in prison with a mandatory parole period of one year. But in certain cases, courts will impose an enhanced sentence, which for class 6 felonies is one to three years. Or if there are certain aggravating circumstances, the judge may impose an aggravated sentence – which for class 6 felonies is 15 months to three years.
Colorado has six classes of felonies and four classes of drug felonies.
But if the class 6 felony offense is considered an extraordinary risk crime – which are offenses that pose “an extraordinary risk of harm” – then the sentencing scheme changes again. The presumptive extraordinary risk sentence for class 6 felonies is one to two years. But the enhanced sentence for extraordinary risk class 6 felonies is one to four years. And if the offense is considered a crime of violence, then the sentence is 18 months to four years in prison.
Meanwhile, class 6 felonies with exceptional circumstances carry a minimum sentence as low as six months if there are certain mitigating factors. Alternatively, aggravating exceptional circumstances could cause the maximum sentence to be as high as three years in prison.
And to make matters more complex, there are some unclassified felonies that are not assigned a number one through six. And their particular sentencing ranges are revealed in the specific crime statute.
This all is why defendants facing Colorado criminal charges should always consult with an attorney. The criminal justice system is simply too confusing to try to determine a particular crime’s penalties through an internet search.
The presumptive sentencing ranges for defendants adjudicated guilty of felonies and drug felonies are below:
Call our criminal law firm for legal advice and to discuss creating an attorney-client relationship. Our Colorado state criminal defense lawyers offer free consultations.
Our Colorado criminal defense attorneys practice throughout the state, including Denver, Colorado Springs, Greeley, and more. We handle all types of criminal cases, including sex offenses (i.e. sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact), DUI, aggravated robbery, vehicular homicide, first-degree murder, domestic violence, child abuse, second degree arson, being an escapee from jail or prison, battery of a peace officer, third degree assault, failure to register as a sex offender, and more. Disclaimer: Results cannot be guaranteed.
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.