Colorado divides crimes into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are minor crimes. Felonies, however, are serious crimes that can come with severe punishments.
Unless you plead guilty to a lesser charge, you will be tried in a court of law before a judge and jury—or, rarely, just a judge, though that comes at your discretion. If you are charged with a felony, call the Law Offices of James Colgan for an experienced defense attorney who can manage your case.
Classification of Felonies
Felonies are classed from 6 to 1, with 1 being the most severe. Class 1 felonies include murder in the first degree, kidnapping in the first degree, and treason.
Class 1 penalties are the most severe punishments. If you are convicted of a Class 1 penalty in Colorado, you could be sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty. If you are a resident alien, deportation is also a possible penalty.
Classes 6 through 2 include crimes ranging from impersonating a peace officer (Class 6) through human trafficking of a minor (Class 2). Punishments include fines from $1,000 to $1,000,000, prison sentences from one to 24 years in prison, or a combination of fines and prison time.
Drug felonies have a separate classification system, from 4 to 1, with a similar range of punishments.
Colorado also has an “extraordinary risk” classification for both felonies and misdemeanors. There are ten extraordinary risk felonies, including child abuse, aggravated robbery, violent crimes, stalking, and human trafficking. Prison sentences for extraordinary risk felonies may be longer than those for standard felonies.
If you are found guilty or plead guilty to a lesser charge, your defense attorney will help you negotiate your plea and a reduction in the fine and sentence.
Statute of Limitations
Most felonies in Colorado have a statute of limitations of three years from the date the crime was committed. Some crimes are so severe that there is no statute of limitations, which means that Colorado can prosecute you at any time. Those crimes include murder, treason, kidnapping, and sex offenses against children.
Your defense attorney will examine all statute of limitations dates to determine whether your case falls outside of them. If it does not, your attorney will ensure you file your lawsuit before it does.
Regardless of your guilt or innocence, you are entitled to defend yourself in court. Defenses against felony charges include:
- Innocence: you can prove you didn’t do it
- An alternative theory of the crime: you can show that someone else committed
- Ignorance of the crime: you didn’t know the crime had occurred, so intent can’t be proven
Your defense attorney will review the details of your case and work with you to provide the best possible defense for your case.
James Colgan is a former prosecutor. He spent many years learning how the Colorado prosecution and trial systems work. Attorney Colgan can build a solid defense based on over 25 years of criminal law experience and his knowledge of how the prosecutors will make their case against you.