Felonies are the most serious crimes with the stiffest penalties. They typically involve violence and are usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year or death. The right to a court-appointed attorney is usually triggered by felony charges. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes and usually carry penalties that include jail time up to one year. They are charged by written indictment, and low-income defendants may not be entitled to a court-appointed attorney in many jurisdictions.
What Are the Six Classes of Felonies and Their Penalties?
Under Colorado law, felony offenses are classed in six different categories:
- Class 1 felonies are the most serious crimes. Conviction carries life in prison without parole. Crimes in this category include first degree murder, first degree kidnapping, and treason.
- Class 2 felonies are very serious, punishable by a prison sentence of eight to 24 years and fines ranging from $5,000 to $1 million. Examples of second degree offenses include second degree murder, sexual assault, and human trafficking of children for involuntary servitude.
- Class 3 felonies carry penalties of four to 12 years in prison and fines of $3,000 to $750,000. This category includes vehicular homicide if the defendant was alcohol or drug impaired, aggravated robbery, first degree assault, and unlawful termination of a pregnancy if the mother survives.
- Class 4 felonies are a category that carries a prison sentence of two to six years and fines of $2,000 to $500,000. Offenses in this category include vehicular assault, third degree burglary, identity theft, and theft of property valued at $20,000 to less than $100,000.
- Class 5 felonies typically carry penalties of one to three years in prison and $1,000 to $100,000 in fines. Common examples include nonsupport of spouse or children, false imprisonment, failure to register as a sex offender, and first degree criminal trespass.
- Class 6 felonies are the least serious category of felony crimes. A conviction can mean a prison sentence of one year to 18 months and fines of $1,000 to $100,000. Class 6 felony offenses include impersonating a peace officer, indecent exposure, and theft of property with a value of at least $2,000 but less than $5,000.
What Are the Four Classes of Drug Felonies and Their Penalties?
Drug crimes are in a group of their own in Colorado, classified in four distinct levels:
- Level 1 drug felonies are the most serious category of drug crimes in Colorado. They carry severe penalties, including eight to 32 years in prison, fines of $5,000 to $1 million, a surcharge of $4,500, and mandatory parole for three years. There are four crimes in this category that all involve selling controlled substances or marijuana under specific circumstances.
- Level 2 drug felonies are punishable by four to eight years in prison and $3,000 to $750,000 in fines with no aggravating circumstances. This category of drug crimes includes unlawful possession of materials to make methamphetamine or amphetamine, unlawful sale, or distribution of materials to make controlled substances and selling Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substances in amounts of more than 14 grams up to 225 grams.
- Level 3 drug felonies carry penalties including two to four years in prison and fines of $2,000 to $500,000. The crime of distributing an imitation controlled substance to a minor by someone at least two years older is included in this category.
- Level 4 drug felonies are the least serious felony drug crimes. Conviction can mean six months to a year in prison and fines of $1,000 to $100,000. Examples include possession of ketamine, flunitrazepam, GHB, or more than four grams of Schedule I or Schedule II drugs.
Why Do You Need an Experienced Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney If You Are Facing Felony Charges?
Your future is at stake if you are facing felony charges in Colorado, particularly a Class 1 felony. You need the services of an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney to preserve your freedom. Contact Welsh Law, LLC at (720) 836-1777.