Colorado Misdemeanor Sentencing

Colorado misdemeanor definition and sentencing

Misdemeanor offenses are crimes that are less serious than Colorado felonies but more serious than Colorado petty offenses. In Colorado, a misdemeanor is a crime punishable by

To help you better understand how Colorado defines and sentences misdemeanors, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss, below:

1. Colorado misdemeanor classifications

Colorado law defines three basic types of misdemeanors:

  • Regular misdemeanors,
  • Drug misdemeanors, and
  • Traffic misdemeanors.

Regular misdemeanor crimes are divided into 3 basic categories:

There are also some unclassified misdemeanors, the punishment for which is defined in the statute setting forth the offense.

Drug misdemeanors fall into two levels – DM1 and DM2 – both punished less severely than non-drug misdemeanors with the same classification.

Colorado traffic misdemeanors can be class 1, class 2 or unclassified.

For each misdemeanor 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 jail and/or a fine. Certain misdemeanors that present an extraordinary risk of harm to society may be punished by up to 6 months more in jail than the presumptive range. These Colorado "extraordinary risk" crimes are discussed in section 3, below.

Not all those convicted of misdemeanors are sent to jail. Colorado courts often sentence misdemeanor offenders to a fine and/or probation.

If you are sentenced to probation you will remain free, subject to certain conditions which may include (without limitation) some or all of the following:

  • Regular supervision by a probation officer (at your expense),
  • Payment of restitution to your victim,
  • Not committing any other crimes,
  • Drug treatment or anger management classes (if applicable),
  • Not owning or possessing a weapon, and
  • Any other conditions the court deems to be in your or the public's best interests.

2. Presumptive sentencing range and fines for Colorado misdemeanors

2.1. Regular misdemeanors

The presumptive sentencing ranges for non-drug, non-traffic misdemeanors committed after on or after July 1, 1993 are as follows: 

Misdemeanor class

Possible sentence

Class 1 (extraordinary risk)

6 – 24 months, and/or

$500 - $5,000

Class 1

6 – 18 months, and/or

$500 - $5,000

Class 2

3 – 12 months, and/or

$250 - $1,000

Class 3

Up to 6 months, and/or

$50 - $750


As specified in statute

However, the penalty for third degree assault increases to 24 – 48 months in jail and/or a fine of $500 - $5,000 if the victim was engaged in the performance of his or her duties as a:

And if you are convicted of a class 3 misdemeanor for reckless endangerment and the victim was a mental health professional engaged in the performance of his or her duties at the Colorado Department of Human Services, the sentencing range is 6 – 12 months in jail, and/or a fine of $50 to $750.

2.2. Drug misdemeanors

People convicted of drug misdemeanors and not sentenced to probation face: 

Drug misdemeanor

Possible sentence


6-18 months in jail, and/or

A fine of $500-$5,000


No jail time.

Fine of $50-$750.

In addition, those convicted of drug offenses are subject to a drug offender surcharge in an amount of up to $1,000.

2.3. Traffic misdemeanors

Possible sentences for traffic misdemeanors are as follows: 

Traffic misdemeanor

Possible sentence

Class 1

10 days – 12 months, and/or

$300 - $1,000

Class 2

10 – 90 days, and/or



As specified in statute

3. Extraordinary risk misdemeanors

Colorado law specifies certain circumstances in which the presumptive range of punishment for a misdemeanor can be increased (or, more rarely, decreased).

Some of the most common sentencing enhancements are for when the crime is classified as a Colorado extraordinary risk crime.

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor that is a Colorado extraordinary risk crime, the minimum sentence for your offense will remain the same, but the maximum possible sentence will increase by up to six months.

Extraordinary risk misdemeanors include:

  • Assault in the third degree,
  • Sexual assault,
  • Unlawful sexual contact,
  • Child abuse,
  • Second and subsequent violations of a protection order,
  • Misdemeanor failure to register as a sex offender, and
  • Misdemeanor invasion of privacy for sexual gratification.

Call us for help…

If you or someone you know has been charged with a Colorado misdemeanor offense, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation with one of our caring Colorado criminal lawyers.

We represent clients on misdemeanor charges ranging from Colorado misdemeanor DUI and drug possession to child abuse and assault and menacing.

To reach one of our experienced Colorado defense attorneys, either complete the form on this page, or call us at our Denver home office:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver, CO 80211
(303) 222-0330






 Arrested in Nevada? Go to our article on Nevada misdemeanor laws.

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