Have you been charged with a felony? You may feel confused, nervous, or unsure of your next steps. What consequences do you face? Should you look for a lawyer? What even is a felony?
A felony is the most serious type of crime in the state of Colorado, above misdemeanors or petty offenses. Being charged or convicted of a felony has serious, lifelong, public consequences, but it does not have to mean that your life is over.
With the help of a knowledgeable felony lawyer, you can craft the strongest possible defense. But it start with learning about how felony charges work in Colorado.
Different Types of Felonies
There are six different types of felony charges in Colorado, with penalties ranging from one year in prison… to life in prison. We have outlined the penalties and some examples of each type of felony below, as well as the additional, lifelong consequences of being a convicted felon.
Keep in mind that these classifications are not set in stone. Aggravating factors, multiple convictions, and the involvement of other persons may change the classification of your crime. For example, if you failed to register as a sex offender once, you will be charged with a Class 6 felony. Twice, and you will be charged with a Class 5 felony. If you are charged with assault in the first degree, you will be charged with a Class 3 felony, but assault in the second, third, or fourth is usually classified as a Class 4 felony.
For a full list of felony crimes and their classifications, consult Colorado’s crime classification guide.
Class 6 Felony
Penalties: 12-18 months in prison and/or a fine of between $1,000 and $100,000
- Promoting a pyramid scheme
- Practicing a profession without the proper license
- Failure to register as a sex offender
- Falsely impersonating a peace officer
- Animal cruelty
- Possession of weapons by anyone who has been convicted of a felony
- Possession of over 12 ounces of marijuana/three ounces of marijuana concentrate
- Possession of two or more grams of methamphetamines
- Possession of four grams or less of any Schedule I or II drug
Class 5 Felony
Penalties: 12-36 months in prison and/or a fine of between $1,000 and $100,000
- Theft of property
- Refusal to pay spousal/child support
- False imprisonment
- Failure to register as a sex offender (second offense)
- Animal cruelty (second offense)
- Embezzlement of public property
- Sale of <5 pounds of marijuana
Class 4 Felony
Penalties: 2-6 years in prison and/or a fine of between $2,000 and $500,000
- Sexual assault
- Vehicular homicide
- Assault in the second degree
- Internet luring/sexual exploitation of a child
- Identity theft
- Perjury in the first degree
- Unlawful purchase of a firearm
Class 3 Felony
Penalties: 4-12 years in prison and/or a fine of between $3,000 and $750,000
- Assault in the first degree
- First degree arson
- First degree burglary
- Money laundering
- Sale of Schedule I or II drug
Class 2 Felony
Penalties: 8-24 years in prison and/or a fine of between $5,000 and $1,000,000
- Second degree murder
- Human trafficking
- Racketeering activities
Class 1 Felony
Penalties: Life imprisonment or the death penalty
- First degree murder
If you have been charged or may be charged with any of these crimes, consult our recent blog post on the timeline regarding felony cases.
The penalties for felonies do not stop at a year in prison or a heavy fine. If you have been convicted of a felony, there will be many restrictions placed on you for the rest of your life. You cannot do the following as a convicted felon:
- Purchase or carry a firearm or weapon
- Apply for licensure as a peace officer or educator
- Holding an office of honor or trust
- Practice as an attorney
- Apply for SNAP federal assistance (unless you have completed the required drug and alcohol treatment program)
Additionally, if you have been convicted for a sexual offense, you will have to register on the state sex offender registry. This is public knowledge and may affect your employment or qualifications for residence in certain apartment complexes.
When you apply for certain jobs, you will be asked about your criminal history and may be subject to a background check. However, there are many companies that do offer jobs for felons.
Government loans and grants are not easy to get as a felon, but not impossible. You may also be able to apply for scholarships created specifically to get felons back on their feet and into higher education.
As serious and severe as felony charges and penalties can be, you should not have to worry about getting charged in the future if you committed a criminal act many years in the past. Why? Because Colorado has a three-year statute of limitations on most felonies.
That means if you committed a felony over three years ago, no one can file charges against you. This three-year limit is extended to five years for vehicular homicide, and there is no statute of limitations on different sex offenses and violent crimes.
If you have been charged with a felony, you must take your charge seriously and craft a serious defense. Contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney today.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2016 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.