As far as Colorado law officials and prosecutors are concerned, any type of criminal offense is a serious matter. However, different levels of criminal offenses are handled in different ways, and are subject to different penalties.
In Colorado, there are eleven different classes of criminal offenses: two classes of petty offenses, three classes of misdemeanors, and six classes of felonies. Typically, petty offenses are considered to be the least serious types of crimes, while felonies are the most serious, and misdemeanors fall somewhere in the middle.
To help you understand the different types of criminal charges, we’ve provided a guide to the 11 different classes of offenses in Colorado.
Petty Offenses in Colorado
In Colorado, there are two classes of petty offenses, as outlined below.
Class 1 petty offenses. There are many different types of criminal behaviors that constitute class 1 petty offenses, including offenses involving gambling, morality, and public peace. Common examples include third-degree criminal trespass, public indecency, and loitering. The possible penalties for class 1 petty offenses include up to six months in jail and fines of up to $500.
Class 2 petty offenses. Unlike class 1, class 2 petty offenses are sentenced according to charge, but may include fines and jail time. Examples include theft by resale of a lift ticket or coupon, littering, providing cigarettes to minors, and air pollution violations.
Misdemeanors in Colorado
Misdemeanor charges deal with more serious types of criminal behaviors, and are typically handled in county court.
Class 1 misdemeanors. These are the most serious types of misdemeanor offenses. There are many different crimes that could be charged as class 1 misdemeanors, including third-degree assault, unlawful sexual contact, theft of a trade secret, and indecent exposure. Penalties for class 1 misdemeanors include six to 18 months in jail and fines of $500 to $5,000.
Class 2 misdemeanors. Common examples include theft of property more than $100 but less than $500, manufacture, sale, or delivery of drug paraphernalia, and illegal carrying a concealed weapon. Penalties include three to 12 months in jail and fines of $250 to $1,000.
Class 3 misdemeanors. This category of misdemeanors includes theft of property valued less than $100, third-degree criminal trespass, prostitution, and soliciting for prostitution. Class 3 misdemeanors are punishable by up to six months in jail and fines of $50 to $750.
Felonies in Colorado
Felonies are considered to be the most serious types of crimes, and are punishable by prison sentences and heavy fines.
Class 1 felonies. The most serious type of felony, class 1 felonies include crimes such as first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, and assault during escape from a lawful place of confinement. Class 1 felonies are punishable by life-long prison sentences and the death penalty.
Class 2 felonies. Common examples of class 2 felonies include a second conviction for selling schedule I or II drugs, second-degree murder, and sexual assault. Class 2 felonies may be penalized by eight to 24 years in prison and fines of $5,000 to $1,000,000.
Class 3 felonies. Class 3 felonies include vehicular homicide, certain types of sexual assault, and first- or second-degree burglary. These types of felonies are punishable by four to 12 years in prison and fines of $750,000.
Class 4 felonies. Examples of class 4 felonies are manslaughter, enticement of a child, and robbery. Class 4 felonies may be penalized by two to six years in prison and fines of $2,000 to $500,000.
Class 5 felonies. Class 5 felonies may include criminal actions such as menacing, failure to register as a sex offender, and stalking. Under Colorado law, class 5 felonies are punishable by one to three years in prison and fines of $1,000 to $100,000.
Class 6 felonies. These are the least serious types of felonies in Colorado, and many include criminal behaviors such as possession of up to two grams of methamphetamine, sexual contact in a penal institution, and possession of a weapon on school, college, or university grounds. The penalty for a class six felony may include one year to 18 months in prison and fines of $1,000 to $100,000.
If you have been charged with any type of criminal offense, it’s in your best interests to contact a knowledgeable Denver criminal defense lawyer. Your attorney can help you understand the criminal charges facing you, and explore your options for the best ways to proceed. If it becomes necessary to take your case to trial, your lawyer will be your most valuable ally, working with you to build a defense strategy and fighting aggressively for your rights.
Even the most seemingly minor criminal charge can have long-term consequences to your freedom, finances, and reputation. Don’t gamble with your future—contact an experienced defense attorney to ensure the best result possible for your case.
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 and 2013 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.