Felony Charges in Colorado

We tend to think of ourselves as good people. No one wants to think of themselves as a “felon.” However, if you find yourself charged with a felony, that is exactly what you are in danger of becoming. If you have been charged with a felony, you need to speak to a capable and experienced Colorado Springs felony attorney immediately.

When you are standing in a courtroom in front of a judge or jury, you need a criminal defense attorney with a track record of success in defending the exact crime you are charged with. You need an attorney who knows and understands the Colorado criminal justice system and can advocate aggressively on your behalf. You need a legal team that will seize on every opportunity to poke holes in the prosecution’s case and fight to have the charges against you reduced or even dismissed.

At Patterson Weaver Law, LLC, our Colorado Springs criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to crafting personalized legal strategies and providing responsive representation to our clients. Our Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyers will guide you toward the best outcome possible on your case. Contact us now for a free consultation with a trusted attorney. We work with clients throughout El Paso County (Colorado Springs), Teller County, Pueblo County, Park County, Fremont County, and the nearby areas.

What Is a Felony?

Colorado law generally breaks down criminal charges into three broad categories:

Felonies are by far the most serious, and most life-changing, of these categories. Felony charges can range from pre-meditated murder (a Class 1 felony) to false information to a pawn broker (a Class 6 felony) in severity.

Classes of Felonies in Colorado

In Colorado, felonies are divided into six classifications:

Class 1 Felonies

Class 1 felonies are the most serious felony crimes under Colorado law. Therefore, Class 1 felonies carry the harshest potential penalties if you’re convicted. In most cases, the penalty for a Class 1 felony is a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole. Colorado has outlawed the death penalty, so a life sentence is the harshest penalty someone can receive.

Examples of Class 1 felonies in Colorado include:

  • First-degree murder
  • First-degree murder of a law enforcement officer or firefighter
  • First-degree kidnapping
  • Child abuse that results in the death of a child under age 12
  • Assaulting someone with a deadly weapon or with deadly force after being arrested or incarcerated
  • Treason

Class 2 Felonies

Class 2 felonies are the second-highest classification of felonies. They carry strict penalties if you’re convicted. The particular penalties you’ll face will depend on the crime and any aggravating circumstances.

The baseline penalties for a Class 2 felony are 8 to 24 years in prison and $5,000 to $1 million in fines, with a mandatory 3-year parole period (5 years for violent crimes). At the upper end, the penalties for a Class 2 felony can be as high as 48 years in prison, $1 million in fines, and a 5-year mandatory parole period.

Examples of Class 2 felonies in Colorado include:

  • Second-degree murder
  • First-degree kidnapping, if the victim was released unharmed before conviction
  • Sexual assault, if the victim suffered a serious bodily injury, deadly weapons or threats were used, or if the defendant was physically assisted by someone else
  • Human trafficking of children
  • Aggravated robbery of controlled substances
  • Theft, if the stolen property was valued at $1 million or more

Class 3 Felonies

Class 3 felonies are serious crimes in Colorado, but they do not carry penalties as harsh as those for Class 2 or Class 1 felonies. The penalties for Class 3 felonies range from 2 to 32 years in prison, $3,000 to $750,000 in fines, and a 3-year minimum parole period, depending on the facts of the case.

Examples of Class 3 felonies include:

  • Conspiracy to commit a Class 2 felony
  • Attempt to commit a Class 2 felony
  • Vehicular homicide
  • Theft of property worth $100,000 to $999,999
  • Aggravated robbery, in some cases
  • Human trafficking of adults
  • Second-degree murder, if committed in the heat of passion
  • First-degree assault, if the crime was not committed in the heat of passion

Class 4 Felonies

Class 4 felonies carry less severe penalties than Class 3 felonies. Based on the facts of the case and the particular crime, penalties for Class 4 felonies range from 1 to 16 years in prison, $2,000 to $500,000 in fines, and 3 years of mandatory parole.

Examples of Class 4 felonies include:

  • Attempt or conspiracy to commit a Class 3 felony
  • Vehicular assault
  • Third-degree burglary

Class 5 Felonies

Class 5 felonies are the second-least severe category of felonies in Colorado. The penalties range from 6 months to 8 years in prison, $1,000 to $100,000 in fines, and 2 years of mandatory parole.

Examples of Class 5 felonies include:

  • Failure to pay child support or alimony
  • Criminally negligent homicide
  • False imprisonment
  • Violating a custody order
  • Failing to register as a sex offender
  • Aggravated motor vehicle theft
  • Inciting a riot
  • Cruelty to animals

Class 6 Felonies

Class 6 felonies are the least severe category of felonies in Colorado. Potential penalties range from 6 months to 4 years in prison, $1,000 to $100,000 in fines, and 1 year of mandatory parole.

Examples of Class 6 felonies include:

  • Second-degree and third-degree assault, depending on the facts of the case
  • Indecent exposure
  • Theft of property worth $2,000 to $4,999

Our Colorado criminal defense lawyers have successfully represented people charged with a wide range of offenses, from felony DUI to drug felonies to assault. No matter what type of charges you are facing, a Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney from our law firm will review your case for free and give you the straightforward legal advice you need.

When Crimes Are Charged as Felonies vs. Misdemeanors

Felonies are distinguished from misdemeanor criminal charges by the potential sentences available to the court. Generally speaking, misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year in jail, while felonies are punishable by a sentence ranging from one year to life imprisonment. The more serious the offense, the higher the chance that the district attorney will charge it as a felony.

Take assault, for example: Colorado law allows you to be charged with assault for any conduct that causes pain to another person, an absurdly low standard. It is the extent of the pain/injury caused, in conjunction with the means used to cause that pain/injury, that can change the charge from a misdemeanor harassment charge to a felony battery. If you used a deadly weapon as part of the assault, or if you caused serious bodily injury, you are more likely to be charged with a felony than a misdemeanor.

Theft charges are similar to the above. If the amount you are alleged to have stolen is only a couple hundred dollars, you will likely be facing a misdemeanor. Taking or embezzling thousands of dollars, however, is going to lead to a felony indictment. Stealing from a car may be classified as a misdemeanor, but taking those same things from a residence could result in a felony burglary charge. Taking something of value from someone’s person, especially with the use of a weapon, could easily be charged as robbery.

Violent crimes or those involving deadly weapons are more likely to be charged as felonies by the investigating police officers and the deputy district attorney. The alleged victim may play a role in the charges filed against you, especially if they are part of a protected class, such as the elderly. 

What Are the Potential Legal Repercussions If I Am Convicted of a Felony?

If someone is convicted of a felony, a judge can sentence them to probation (generally supervised), a community corrections sentence, or even time (sometimes substantial time) in prison.

Even defendants who avoid prison and community corrections and are sentenced to probation instead will likely have a large number of unwieldy and difficult requirements as a part of their sentence. These may include:

  • As much as 90 days in the county jail ordered as a part of probation
  • No consumption of alcohol (ensured by random breath or urine analysis tests)
  • No use of illicit drugs (enforced by random urine analysis tests)
  • No violations of Colorado or any other jurisdiction’s law
  • Evaluation for domestic violence, treatment, and therapy
  • Mental health evaluation and therapy and medication
  • Alcohol/drug evaluation, classes, and therapy
  • Substantial hours of community service
  • Parenting classes
  • Restitution payment

These are some of the conditions that the court may order in a typical probation sentence, but there may be others as well. Cases involving sexual offenses or defendants placed on Intensive Supervised Probation may have significantly restrictive, and life-altering, additional requirements.

It is also important to know that when a felony includes domestic violence charges, a court’s sentence can include domestic violence conditions. This includes a requirement that a defendant do a domestic violence evaluation and comply with whatever recommendations that evaluation requires.

What Does a Felony Conviction Mean for My Rights in the Future?

Additional considerations include how a felony affects your life beyond the actual sentence. A felony conviction can have far-reaching repercussions on your rights well beyond the immediate criminal case.

For instance, felony convictions can interfere with your right to vote. In Colorado, someone with a felony conviction cannot vote while in prison or on parole. Someone on probation or who has completed parole may vote in Colorado. But in many states, a felony conviction permanently deprives individuals of their fundamental right to vote in elections, or even the right to sit on a jury.

Additionally, a felony conviction makes it illegal to own or possess a firearm under either Colorado or federal law. Violation of this prohibition can result in being charged with a new felony. While this does not matter much to some people, hunters, gun enthusiasts, and even those who simply want to protect their home are often adversely affected by this repercussion. Moreover, although the lawyers at Patterson Weaver Law, LLC are not military attorneys and can’t give anyone advice on military legal consequences or law, a felony conviction can result in the end of a person’s military career. The outcome is often similar for any civilian career requiring a security clearance.

Additionally, a felony conviction can cause teachers, doctors, nurses, and child care providers significant difficulties with their licenses. Even for a typical person without licensure concerns, future employers will always be able to see your felony conviction on a background check, and few employers are in the habit of hiring employees with a felony on their record.

Other less known repercussions can result from a felony conviction as well. This includes limited job or promotional opportunities, reduced access to government programs, added obstacles in custody disputes, and a plethora of other challenges. A felony conviction can follow you for a lifetime.

A Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney can help you understand the penalties you may be facing and work to minimize the impact on your life. Contact our criminal law office now for a free consultation with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney.

Talk to an Experienced Colorado Springs Felony Attorney

No matter the specific charge, a felony is an extremely serious matter that carries long-term life and legal consequences. It’s imperative that you talk with a capable and experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer such as Patterson Weaver as quickly as possible about your case. As a former prosecutor and seasoned trial lawyer, Patterson Weaver and his legal team will scrutinize your case for law enforcement errors and substantive motions issues, factual weaknesses and strengths, and helpful factors for negotiation with the prosecutor.

Although all of our criminal defense cases are different, one thing is clear: Your odds for protecting your freedom and your future greatly increase with an experienced criminal defense attorney fighting for you.

Do not face the weight and force of the government alone. If you are accused of a crime and facing prosecution, you need experienced and effective legal representation. Contact the criminal attorneys at Patterson Weaver Law, LLC today for your free consultation. Our Colorado Springs criminal defense law firm proudly serves El Paso County, Pueblo County, Park County, Teller County, Elbert County, Fremont County, and the nearby areas.