Like all states, Colorado recognizes misdemeanor and felony crimes, with felonies being the more serious category of crimes. Colorado divided felonies into subcategories to aid with determining appropriate sentences for crimes. In Colorado, there are a number of different classes of felonies that a person may be charged with.
Colorado recognizes six different classes of felonies which represent different classifications of crimes that each have a separate potential criminal sentence if the defendant is convicted. Colorado uses Class 1 through 6. Crimes are divided in these categories with more serious crimes having a lower numeric class. The lower the numeric class, the harsher the potential criminal sentence. Imprisonment is often carried out in a state prison.
Penalties for these classes of felonies range from one year in prison to a life sentence. Below are examples of each class of felony and potential penalties associated with each class.
Class 6 felonies are considered the least serious felonies in Colorado. Examples of Class 6 felonies in Colorado include:
Potential penalties include imprisonment of 12 to 18 months and/or a fine between $1,000 and $100,000. There is also a mandatory parole period of one year.
A class 5 felony in Colorado may involve slightly more serious crimes, such as a second offense for failing to register as a sex offender or forgery. It also includes several property offenses such as theft of property or embezzlement of public property. Drug offenses like the sale of less than 5 pounds of marijuana fall under this class. False imprisonment, forgery and refusal to pay child or spousal support also fall into this classification.
Potential penalties for a class 5 felony in Colorado include between 12 and 36 months of imprisonment and/or a fine between $1,000 and $100,000.
Examples of Class 4 felonies include the following:
Potential penalties range from a minimum of two years in prison or a fine of $2,000 while the maximum punishment is six years in prison with a fine of $500,000.
Class 3 felonies in Colorado include first degree arson and first degree burglary. Patronizing a prostituted child and pimping are also considered Class 3 felonies. These crimes carry a potential sentence of four to 12 years of imprisonment and a fine between $3,000 and $750,000.
A class 2 felony is a very serious offense in Colorado. Examples of class two felonies include second degree murder, human trafficking and racketeering. Potential penalties include between 8 and 24 years in prison and a fine between $5,000 and $1,000,000.
A Class 1 felony is considered the most serious crime in Colorado. These are heinous crimes and are penalized with the most severe prison terms. It includes crimes such as murder and treason. The maximum penalty for these crimes in Colorado is life imprisonment or the death penalty.
Not all crimes fall under Class 1 through 6. Unclassified felonies generally have a specific sentence that is established under the criminal statute. If a penalty is not included in the statute, the felony is punishable by a maximum of five years of imprisonment in a state prison and a fine of $100,000.
Aggravating factors, multiple convictions, or the involvement of other individuals may change the classifications of a crime. For example, a first offense is often charged as a lesser class than a second or subsequent offense. Additionally, the degree of the offense can also change which class the crime falls under. For example, assault in the third degree is usually charged as a Class 4 felony while assault in the first degree is charged as a Class 3 felony.
The statute of limitations is the time period by which a person must be charged with a crime. If this time period passes, the prosecution cannot lawfully bring charges. For many felonies in Colorado, the deadline is three or five years from the date of the commission of the crime. However, very serious felonies like murder, kidnapping, and certain sexual offenses may not have any statute of limitations.
It is important for criminal defendants to understand what happens if you are convicted of a felony. After a conviction, a sentencing date is set. Sometimes this date is set several months in the future. Between the conviction and the sentencing hearing, the probation department writes a pre-sentence investigation report.
Being a convicted felon means that a person may lose several important rights, such as being able to vote, serve on a jury, or carry a firearm. He or she may be prohibited from acquiring certain professional licenses. In some cases, a convicted felon can be barred from public or other housing. Convicted felons often have difficulty obtaining employment and other opportunities.
Being convicted of a felony can have lifelong consequences. It is important to discuss your case with a Colorado criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible and well before any conviction. A criminal defense lawyer can explain the nature of the charges against you, as well as the potential punishments that you may be facing.
A criminal defense lawyer can craft a legal defense strategy based on the specific circumstances surrounding your case. He or she can analyze which defenses may apply. He or she can work with prosecutors and the probation department to try to achieve outcomes other than jail or prison time. A criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the Colorado criminal justice system and take steps to protect your rights.