The only good news about being charged with a misdemeanor is that it is not a felony. Unfortunately, the good news stops there. Misdemeanor convictions can have negative, often long-term consequences for people, their families, and their future opportunities. If you are facing a criminal charge, you should speak to an experienced Colorado Springs misdemeanor attorney as soon as possible.
The seasoned criminal defense attorneys at Patterson Weaver Law, LLC take pride in providing aggressive representation and responsive service to people charged with misdemeanor crimes. Our trusted attorneys develop tailored legal strategies aimed at achieving the best possible outcome for our clients, whether that be getting charges reduced, a case dismissed, or minimizing penalties if a conviction is unavoidable.
Contact us today for a free consultation on your misdemeanor case. Our Colorado Springs criminal defense law firm serves clients throughout El Paso County, Teller County, Pueblo County, Park County, Fremont County, and the nearby areas.
What Is a Misdemeanor?
In Colorado, charges are generally broken down into four broad categories:
- Civil infractions
- Petty Offenses
Misdemeanor charges can range from assault 3 (a Class 1 misdemeanor) to telephone harassment (a Class 2 misdemeanor) to driving under the influence (an unclassified misdemeanor). While misdemeanors are not typically serious crimes like felonies, they can and do have real effects on people’s lives.
Classes of Misdemeanors in Colorado
As of March 1, 2022, Colorado’s Sentencing Reform Act (Senate Bill 21-271) went into effect. The Act overhauled the sentencing provisions related to misdemeanors and petty offenses, eliminated redundant offenses, and reclassified others. Prior to March 1, there were 3 classifications for misdemeanors and 2 classifications for petty offenses; the new law reduced the misdemeanor classifications to 2, reduced petty offenses to one classification, and added a new classification of civil infraction.
Misdemeanor crimes are divided into two classes, 1 and 2, depending on the seriousness of the crime. A defendant will face different penalties depending on whether they are charges with a Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanor. Keep in mind that drug and traffic misdemeanors are treated differently than Class 1 and 2 misdemeanors and as such, are subject to specific penalties as set out in the various statutes.
Class 1 Misdemeanors
A Class 1 misdemeanor is ranked just below a felony, making it the most serious of misdemeanor offenses. A Class 1 offense is punishable by up to 364 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. (Prior to March 1, 2022, a Class 1 misdemeanor carried a jail sentence between 6 and 18 months and fines ranging from $500 to $5,000). However, for crimes designated as “extraordinary risk” (such as Assault 3, C.R.S. 18-3-204), the presumptive range can be doubled, meaning a sentence of nearly two full years can be imposed.
The crimes associated with a Class 1 misdemeanor, and the penalties associated with them, may include:
- Criminal mischief, which is when an offender knowingly damages someone’s real or personal property that is valued at between $500 and under $1,000
- Theft of property valued between $750 and less than $2,000
- Indecent exposure
- Obstruction of telephone service
- Patronizing a prostitute
Some examples of extraordinary risk misdemeanors include:
Class 2 Misdemeanors
A Class 2 Misdemeanor is a less-serious charge than Class 1 and is punishable by up to 120 days in jail, a fine up to $750, or both. (Prior to March 1, 2022, a Class 2 Misdemeanor carried a jail sentence of between 3 to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $1,000).
A few of the most common Class 2 misdemeanors in Colorado include:
- Theft of property valued at a minimum of $300 and less than $750
- Resisting arrest
- Violation of a protection order
- Second-degree arson that causes less than $1,000 in damages
- Criminal attempt to commit a Class 1 misdemeanor
The concept of unclassified misdemeanors may be misleading. Don’t assume that because a crime in this category is “unclassified,” it is not serious. This simply means that the charge is not classified for the purpose of a sentence. Unclassified misdemeanors can carry a penalty of up to 1 year in jail and/or fines up to $1,000.
Sometimes the crimes in this category go unclassified because they are too unusual or because they involve a new charge that has not yet been addressed in state law.
Examples of unclassified misdemeanors include:
- Some traffic citations, such as unpaid parking tickets and driving with an expired license
- Minor gambling offenses
- Intentionally polluting air quality
- Participating in a prison riot
In Colorado, drug misdemeanors are divided into two categories – Level 1 and Level 2. The Level 1 category is the most serious. If convicted of a Level 2 drug misdemeanor, the offender may have to pay a fine between $50 and $750 and spend up to 364 days in jail. The penalties for both Level 1 and Level 2 drug misdemeanors would increase with subsequent convictions.
Examples of Level 1 drug misdemeanors include:
- Possession of marijuana, which involves the unlawful possession of 6 ounces or more of marijuana, or more than 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate
- Unlawful drug possession
- Attempt to commit a Level 4 drug felony
The penalties for a Level 1 drug misdemeanor include 6 to 18 months in jail and/or $500 to $5,000 in fines, depending on the circumstances of the crime. Two years after the cases closes, convicted offenders can pursue a criminal record seal.
Examples of Level 2 drug misdemeanors include:
- Unlawful use of a controlled substance
- Abuse of toxic vapors
- Drug possession of more than 2 ounces of marijuana, up to 6 ounces
If convicted of a Level 2 drug misdemeanor, the offender may have to pay a fine of up to $500, spend up to 120 days in jail, or receive probation for up to 120 days in jail.
The penalties for both Level 1 and Level 2 drug misdemeanors do increase with subsequent convictions.
Traffic misdemeanors are also divided into two categories – Class 1 and Class 2. Class 1 is the more serious category.
Class 1 Traffic Misdemeanors are punishable by between 10 days to 12 months in jail and/or a fine between $300 and $1,000. A conviction will also result in points being added to your DMV record.
A Class 2 Traffic Misdemeanor carries a penalty between 10 to 90 days in jail and/or a fine between $150 and $300, plus points on your DMV record.
Examples of Class 1 traffic misdemeanors include:
- Careless driving, when someone sustains a bodily injury
- Knowingly engaging in a speed contest
- Exceeding the speed limit by 25 mph in a construction, maintenance, or repair zone
These offenses are punishable by 10 days to 12 months in jail and/or $300 to $1,000 in fines. They will also cause points to be added to your DMV record.
Examples of Class 2 traffic misdemeanors include:
- Careless driving without bodily injury
- Reckless driving
- Knowingly conducting a speed contest
A Class 2 traffic misdemeanor carries the penalty of 10 to 30 days in jail and/or $150 to $300 in fines, plus points.
Common Crimes That Are Considered Misdemeanors
At Patterson Weaver Law, LLC, our Colorado Springs misdemeanor lawyers represent people who are facing all types of criminal defense cases. Some of the common criminal cases we work on involve:
- Third-degree assault
- Theft or property crimes
- Marijuana possession
- Drug possession
- Reckless driving
- Driving with a suspended license
- Hit and run accidents
- Criminal mischief
- Disorderly conduct
What Kind of Legal Repercussions Are Possible If Convicted of a Misdemeanor?
Generally speaking, a misdemeanor conviction can result in a sentence to probation (supervised or unsupervised) or jail for up to 364 days (not including sentences for “extraordinary risk” crimes, as set forth above, which could potentially double the original sentence range).
These can include requirements such as:
- Up to 60 days jail time as a condition of probation
- Substantial fines
- No alcohol (enforced by random tests)
- No illicit drugs (enforced by random tests)
- No additional violations of law
- Domestic violence evaluation and corresponding recommendations (classes)
- Mental health evaluation and corresponding recommendations (therapy, medication, etc.)
- Substance abuse evaluation and corresponding recommendations
- Child abuse evaluation and corresponding recommendations (parenting classes and therapy)
- Useful public service (commonly called community service)
- Parenting classes
- Driving classes
- Attendance at a victim’s impact panel
- Letters of apology
- Payment of restitution
These are just a sampling of the requirements that may be ordered by the court as conditions of probation. In some cases, particularly for repeat offenders, the court may not permit probation and instead will sentence defendants to lengthy jail terms.
What Are the Real-Life Consequences of a Conviction?
A misdemeanor conviction may have permanent real-life consequences. Even someone with an otherwise clean record may find that a misdemeanor conviction greatly limits their future opportunities. If the charge carries a domestic violence aggravator, a conviction may permanently preclude someone from possessing a firearm.
Moreover, while we at Patterson Weaver Law, LLC are not military lawyers and cannot advise anyone on military law or legal consequences, it is well known in Colorado Springs that a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction nearly always ends a career in the military. Additionally, any type of misdemeanor conviction may cause doctors, nurses, daycare providers, and teachers to have significant licensure issues. Even a typical citizen without such concerns may find it difficult to find a job, an apartment, or admission at an educational institution.
Are Traffic Offenses Misdemeanors?
In Colorado, more serious traffic tickets such as reckless driving or more severe speeding tickets are classified as misdemeanor traffic offenses. These types of traffic tickets are more serious than simple traffic infractions. While someone might think a misdemeanor traffic offense is just a ticket, the reality is that these offenses can carry substantial fines or even months of jail time. Our experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyers can help you ensure that a traffic ticket does not carry unreasonable penalties.
Can a Misdemeanor Conviction Be Sealed?
Generally, misdemeanor conviction records can be sealed two years after a case ends. However, there is no waiting period to seal records for criminal charges that have been dismissed. These can be sealed immediately.
There are certain misdemeanor convictions in Colorado that can never be sealed, however. These include cases involving domestic violence, DUIs, sexual offenses, and certain misdemeanor traffic violations.
Talk to a Colorado Springs Misdemeanor Lawyer Now
No matter whether you are facing allegations of domestic violence, assault, DUI, drunk with a gun, or another charge, a misdemeanor is a serious matter with potentially life-changing consequences. It is important to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible regarding your case.
An experienced Colorado Springs misdemeanor defense attorney from Patterson Weaver Law, LLC can analyze the facts of your case for officer mistakes and potential motion issues, factual strengths and weaknesses, and mitigating factors for negotiation with the district attorney. In many situations where a client does not have a previous record, but the DA has a strong case, it may be possible to negotiate a deferred sentence or better.
While every case and circumstances are different, your chances for getting a good outcome greatly increase with the legal advice, guidance, and efforts of an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact our law office today for a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer and learn how we might be able to help. Our criminal law firm serves clients through Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas.