18-2-101 CRS is the Colorado statute that defines criminal attempt. This is when a person, with the requisite intent to commit a crime, takes a substantial step towards committing the crime, but fails to complete the criminal act.
In most cases, the penalty for criminal attempt is one class of offense lighter than punishment for the completed crime.
To help you better understand criminal attempt sentencing, our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers will discuss:
- 1. How does Colorado law define “criminal attempt”?
- 2. Consequences of criminal attempt
- 3. Defenses to criminal attempt
1. How does Colorado law define “criminal attempt”?
The definition of criminal attempt is set forth in section 18-2-101 of the Colorado criminal code. 18-2-101 (1) C.R.S. provides:
A person commits criminal attempt if, acting with the kind of culpability otherwise required for commission of an offense, he engages in conduct constituting a substantial step toward the commission of the offense. A substantial step is any conduct, whether act, omission, or possession, which is strongly corroborative of the firmness of the actor’s purpose to complete the commission of the offense. Factual or legal impossibility of committing the offense is not a defense if the offense could have been committed had the attendant circumstances been as the actor believed them to be, nor is it a defense that the crime attempted was actually perpetrated by the accused.
You also commit criminal intent when you aid someone else (conspire) in committing conduct that would constitute complicity under 18-1-603 C.R.S.:
A person is legally accountable as principal for the behavior of another constituting a criminal offense if, with the intent to promote or facilitate the commission of the offense, he or she aids, abets, advises, or encourages the other person in planning or committing the offense.
Thus you are liable for a criminal attempt if your conduct would have amounted to complicity had the crime been successful — even if the other person never actually commits or attempts to commit the offense.
And if the crime would have constituted a Colorado “crime of violence,” then attempting to commit it is also considered a violent crime.1
2. Consequences of criminal attempt
2.1. Attempted drug crimes
In general, criminal attempt to commit a Colorado level 1 drug misdemeanor or Colorado level 2 drug misdemeanor is a level 2 drug misdemeanor.
Except as otherwise provided by law, criminal attempt to commit a Colorado level 1 drug felony is a level 2 drug felony; criminal attempt to commit a Colorado level 2 drug felony is a level 3 drug felony; criminal attempt to commit a Colorado level 3 drug felony is a level 4 drug felony; and criminal attempt to commit a Colorado level 4 drug felony is a level 4 drug felony.2
For more information on specific drug felony sentencing, please see our articles on specific Colorado felony drug crimes.
2.2. Attempt to commit a Colorado petty offense
Attempt to commit a Colorado petty offense is punished the same way as if the crime had been successful.3 Consequences can include:
- A fine of up to $300, and/or
- 10 days in jail.4
2.3. Attempt to commit a Colorado misdemeanor
Criminal attempt to commit a class 1 misdemeanor or a class 2 misdemeanor is a class 2 misdemeanor.5 The base penalty for a class 2 misdemeanor is:
- 120 days in jail, and/or
- A fine of $7506
2.4. Attempt to commit a Colorado felony
Other than class 6 felonies or crimes for which no penalty is specifically provided, criminal attempt to commit a Colorado felony lowers the base class of the crime by one.7
In other words, criminal attempt to commit a Colorado class 1 felony is a Colorado class 2 felony; criminal attempt to commit a class 2 felony is a Colorado class 3 felony; criminal attempt to commit a class 3 felony is a Colorado class 4 felony; criminal attempt to commit a class 4 felony is a Colorado class 5 felony; and criminal attempt to commit a class 5 felony is a Colorado class 6 felony.
Criminal attempt to commit a class 6 felony or a felony for which no penalty is specifically provided is a class 6 felony.
For more information on felony sentencing, please see our articles on specific Colorado felony crimes, such as Colorado attempted murder.
2.5. Attempt to escape confinement
Attempt to escape custody, Colorado 18-8-208.1 C.R.S., is punished the same way whether or not you succeed.8
Attempted escape can be charged as a petty offense, a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on what you were in jail or prison for.
3. Defenses to criminal attempt
Defenses to criminal attempt include all available defenses to the specific crime you are accused of attempting.
Additionally, it is an affirmative defense to criminal attempt charges that:
- You abandoned your effort to commit the crime, or
- You otherwise prevented the commission of the crime.
The burden is on you to prove that you did one of these two things under circumstances manifesting the complete and voluntary renunciation of criminal intent.
Call us for help…
Attempting a crime is almost as serious as committing it. More often than not, you will simply be charged with a crime as if you had succeeded and attempt will be a fall-back for the jury in case the prosecution is unable to prove one or more elements of the crime.
A skilled criminal lawyer can often use attempt as a plea bargain to get your charges reduced. But we are not one of those firms that automatically tries to do this. Whatever it takes to get you the best outcome on your Colorado criminal charges, that’s what we will do. If a plea bargain is not in your best interest, we are not afraid to take your case to trial in front of a jury.
To find out how we can fight for you, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. One of our and experienced Colorado criminal attorneys will respond to you quickly so that we can get started planning the best defense to your Colorado criminal case.
For the fastest response, fill out the convenient and confidential form on this page. Or call us at our Denver home office:
Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211
Arrested in Nevada? See our Nevada attempt crimes article.
- 18-2-101 (3.5) C.R.S.
- 18-2-101 (10)(a) C.R.S.
- 18-2-101 (8) C.R.S.
- 18-2-101 (6) C.R.S. As of March 1, 2022, there are no longer class 1 petty offenses or class 2 petty offense. SB21-271.
- 18-1.3-503 C.R.S.
- 18-2-101 (7) C.R.S. As of March 1, 2022, there are no longer class 3 misdemeanors. SB21-271.
- 18-2-101 (4) C.R.S.
- 18-2-101 (9) C.R.S.