Under CRS 18-8-208, it is a crime in Colorado for a prisoner to escape – or to aid a prisoner in escaping – from a jail, prison or other custodial penal institution. Escaping from custody on a felony charge is a felony and escape from misdemeanor charges is a misdemeanor.
In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is escape under Colorado law?
- 2. What is aiding escape?
- 3. What are the penalties for escape?
- 4. What are the defenses to escape charges?
- 5. Related Offenses
Escape is a crime that is committed by “knowingly” escaping from custody or confinement.1 This includes escaping from a prison, jail, police holding cell, or even escaping a non-residential community corrections placement. In some cases, failure to return to a work release facility may be considered escape.
Escape is a continuing crime. This means that once an individual escapes police custody, they are an escapee until they are returned to custody. The statute of limitations for escape does not begin to run until the escapee has been returned to custody.2
Any person who knowingly aids, abets, or assists another person to escape from custody or confinement commits the offense of aiding escape.3
It is not necessary that the prisoner actually escapes or attempts to escape. Knowingly providing assistance to escape is enough to constitute a crime. This could include providing materials to help escape or providing assistance in the escape.
The penalties for escape and aiding escape depend on the criminal offense for why the prisoner is in custody. Escape and aiding escape is generally a felony if the person was in custody for a felony, and a misdemeanor if the person was in custody for a misdemeanor offense. Penalties are generally more severe if the escape followed a criminal conviction compared to escape before conviction while in custody.
|Class of Offense Causing Confinement||Escape Offense Charges||Penalties|
|Convicted of Class 1 or Class 2 Felony||Class 2 Felony||8 to 24 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000|
|Convicted of Any Other Felony||Class 3 Felony||4 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000|
|Charged But Not Convicted of a Felony||Class 4 Felony||2 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000|
|Convicted of a Misdemeanor or Petty Offense||Class 3 Misdemeanor||Up to 6 months in jail and a fine between $50 and $750|
|Charged But Not Convicted of a Misdemeanor or Petty Offense||Class 1 Petty Offense||Up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $500|
Aiding escape is a class 2 felony if the person aided was in custody or confinement as a result of conviction of a class 1 or class 2 felony. The penalties for a class 2 felony include 8 to 24 years in prison and a fine of up to $1 million. In addition, there is a mandatory parole period of 5 years for a class 2 felony conviction in Colorado.
Aiding escape is a class 3 felony if the person aided was in custody for any other felony (other than class 1 or class 2). The penalties for a class 3 felony include 4 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000. In addition, there is a mandatory parole period of 5 years for a class 3 felony conviction in Colorado.
Aiding escape is a class 1 misdemeanor if the person aided was in custody or confinement for a misdemeanor or petty offense. The penalties for a class 1 misdemeanor include 6 to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
There are a number of defenses available to escape charges or aiding escape. Defenses include:
- The defendant did not knowingly attempt to escape
- The defendant did not knowingly aid the escapee
- The defendant did not actually aid anyone
- The defendant was not attempting to escape
- The defendant was not lawfully in confinement or custody
- The defendant was never convicted of any crime
Duress and “choice of evils” are two affirmative defenses available to criminal escape charges. This means that the defendant did escape from police custody but they had a justification for doing so.
A person may not be convicted of aiding escape if they were acting at the direction of another person because of the use or threat of force. The force or threat of force must be such that a reasonable person in the same situation would be unable to resist.4
Escape is justifiable and not criminal when it is necessary as an emergency measure to avoid imminent injury by reason of a situation occasioned through no conduct of the actor. The “choice of evils” must be of sufficient gravity according to ordinary standards of intelligence and morality.5
Escape may be related to other criminal offenses. These include attempted escape from jail or prison, criminal accessory charges, and resisting arrest.
Giving assistance of any kind to someone who is suspected of a crime or has committed a crime is being an accessory. Being an accessory is usually a felony offense in Colorado. If the other person is charged with a serious felony, being an accessory is a class 4 felony. Penalties include 2 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Knowingly attempting to escape from prison or jail is a crime in Colorado. The penalties for attempted escape depend on the crime for which you were incarcerated. Attempted escape will generally result in mandatory prison time.
Resisting arrest or attempting to prevent a peace officer from effecting an arrest is a misdemeanor in Colorado. The penalties for resisting arrest include 3 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.
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- C.R.S. 18-8-208
- C.R.S. 18-8-201(2)
- C.R.S. 18-8-201
- C.R.S. 18-1-708
- C.R.S. 18-1-702