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What Do the Different Felony Levels Mean in Colorado?


Facing felony charges in Colorado can have serious and life-altering consequences, impacting your freedom, future, and reputation. The severity of the charge determines the potential penalties, ranging from lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines to significant periods of parole or probation.

You should be aware of the implications of different felony levels in Colorado and get strong legal representation from a proven criminal defense attorney if you are facing felony charges in Denver.

Explanation of the Felony Levels in Colorado

In Colorado, felonies are classified into six levels, from Class 1 to Class 6, with Class 1 being the most severe and Class 6 the least severe. The Colorado felony classification system helps determine the severity of the crime and the corresponding penalties. Here is an overview of each class:

  • Class 1 Felonies: The most serious category, including crimes like first-degree murder, treason, and kidnapping resulting in serious bodily harm
  • Class 2 Felonies: Include crimes such as second-degree murder, sexual assault, and large-scale drug trafficking
  • Class 3 Felonies: Encompass crimes like first-degree assault, second-degree kidnapping, and arson
  • Class 4 Felonies: Cover offenses like vehicular homicide, theft between $20,000 and $100,000, and burglary
  • Class 5 Felonies: Include less severe crimes such as menacing with a deadly weapon, theft between $5,000 and $20,000, and criminal trespass
  • Class 6 Felonies: The least severe felonies, covering crimes like possession of a controlled substance, criminal impersonation, and theft between $2,000 and $5,000

Crimes Associated with Each Felony Level

Each felony class in Colorado encompasses a range of crimes, reflecting their seriousness and potential harm to individuals and society. An experienced Denver criminal defense lawyer can help you understand felony levels in Colorado and the typical crimes associated with each level.

Class 1 Felonies

  • First-degree murder
  • Treason
  • Kidnapping resulting in serious bodily injury

Class 2 Felonies

  • Second-degree murder
  • Sexual assault
  • Large-scale drug trafficking

Class 3 Felonies

  • First-degree assault
  • Second-degree kidnapping
  • Arson

Class 4 Felonies

  • Vehicular homicide
  • Theft of property valued between $20,000 and $100,000
  • Burglary

Class 5 Felonies

  • Menacing with a deadly weapon
  • Theft of property valued between $5,000 and $20,000
  • Criminal trespass

Class 6 Felonies

  • Possession of a controlled substance
  • Criminal impersonation
  • Theft of property valued between $2,000 and $5,000

Penalties and Sentencing Guidelines for Each Felony Level

The penalties for felony convictions in Colorado vary depending on the class of felony, with more severe crimes attracting harsher penalties. Here’s an outline of the potential penalties for each felony class:

Class 1 Felonies

  • Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole or the death penalty (for crimes committed before 1995)
  • High fines

Class 2 Felonies

  • A prison sentence ranging from eight to 24 years
  • Fines ranging from $5,000 to $1,000,000

Class 3 Felonies

  • Prison sentences ranging from four to 12 years
  • Fines ranging from $3,000 to $750,000

Class 4 Felonies

  • Prison sentences range from two to six years
  • Fines ranging from $2,000 to $500,000

Class 5 Felonies

  • Prison sentences range from one to three years
  • Fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000

Class 6 Felonies

  • Prison sentences range from 12 to 18 months
  • Fines ranging from $1,000 to $100,000

Notably, felony convictions often come with mandatory parole periods, varying from one year for lower classes to five years for higher classes. Factors such as prior criminal history, the circumstances of the crime, and whether the defendant cooperates with law enforcement can influence the penalties imposed.

Factors Affecting the Determination of Felony Levels in Colorado

Several factors influence the classification and severity of felony charges in Colorado:

Nature and Circumstances of the Crime

The specific details of how the crime was committed, including the use of weapons, the degree of harm inflicted, and the intent behind the action, play a significant role in determining the felony level.

Prior Criminal Record

Defendants with prior convictions, especially those with a history of similar crimes, may face more severe charges and penalties. Previously convicted felons face harsher punishments.

Victim Impact

Crimes causing severe harm or trauma to victims are likely to be classified at higher felony levels.

Mitigating and Aggravating Factors

Factors such as whether the defendant was coerced into committing the crime or whether the crime was particularly heinous can influence the felony classification.

Legal Defenses and Plea Bargains

Effective legal defenses or plea negotiations can sometimes lead to reduced charges or reclassification of the felony classes.

Legal Process for Individuals Facing Felony Charges in Colorado

The legal process for felony crimes under the Colorado criminal justice system may include these steps:

  • Arrest by a police officer
  • The defendant appears before a judge
  • Arraignment (formal reading of charges)
  • Defendant enters a plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest)
  • Preliminary Hearing
  • Pre-Trial Motions
  • Plea Bargaining
  • Trial
  • Verdict
  • Sentencing

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Potential Defenses for Felonies in Colorado

At the Law Office of Richard B. Huttner, the legal team may use one or more of the following defenses to fight serious charges, such as drug felonies, sex offender charges, or less serious felonies.

  • Alibi Evidence: Proof the defendant was elsewhere during the crime
  • Self-Defense: Justification for actions taken
  • Mistaken Identity: Questioning the accuracy of witness identification
  • Lack of Intent: Arguing no criminal intent was present
  • Insufficient Evidence: Challenging the adequacy of the prosecution’s evidence
  • Procedural Errors: Highlighting errors in the investigation or arrest process
  • Violation of Rights: Suppressing evidence obtained unlawfully
  • Mental Incapacity: Demonstrating the defendant’s inability to understand their actions
  • Criminal Statute of Limitations: Establishing that the charges were brought after the legal deadline

We Can Mount a Robust Defense to Fight Your Felony Charges in Colorado

Whether you have been charged with sexual assault, drug-related felony offenses, or other classified or unclassified felonies, top-rated criminal defense attorney Richard B. Huttner will fight to protect your rights and help you achieve the best possible outcome.

With three decades of experience and recognition as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers Association, Richard B. Huttner has a proven record of successfully defending clients against a wide range of felony charges. His comprehensive knowledge of Colorado’s legal system and his dedication to personalized defense strategies ensure that your case is handled with the utmost skill and diligence.

To schedule a consultation, call the Law Office of Richard B. Huttner today at 303-997-1928 or contact us online.

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