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Colorado Criminal Defense Blog

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Charges in Denver for drug distribution can carry some serious penalties. Those faced with these charges face the prospect of lengthy prison terms and massive fines and legal fees.

There is hope for those currently facing Denver drug distribution charges, however. A new Colorado law will soon remove felony-level penalties from certain drug possession charges.

Note, this new bill doesn’t change current laws regulating distribution. Those facing possession with the intent to distribute charges now? You may still be handed a felony sentence.

Let’s take a look, then, at how an experienced Colorado attorney may defend your case, and quite possibly reduce your sentence. First, what the law says…

Current Colorado Law on Denver Drug Distribution

The Colorado Revised Statutes state that it is unlawful for a person to knowingly:

  • manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, or to possess with intent to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, a controlled substance
  • induce, attempt to induce, or conspire with one or more other persons, to manufacture, dispense, sell, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, a controlled substance
  • possess one or more chemicals or supplies or equipment with the intent to manufacture a controlled substance

The laws surrounding drug distribution in the state of Colorado depend on the specifics of the case. Some of the various factors that can affect sentencing include:

  • The specific drug
  • The quantity at the time of the arrest
  • Extra factors such as arrest in a school zone
  • Surrounding factors such as possession of scales or bags

The two most impactful considerations are are the type of drug and the quantity in possession. Larger quantities outside of the normal range for personal use can lead to a distribution charge.

Changes the New Law Makes to Drug Trafficking Cases

The new bill, passed on March 31st, changes the current laws for schedule one and two drugs, including drugs such as cocaine, fentanyl, and ecstasy, to be misdemeanor charges under 4 grams. These drugs were previously charged as felony-level possession regardless of the amount.

Under the new law, all previously felony marijuana charges are now misdemeanors as well. This includes possession of previously illegal amounts including the amounts set by the recreational marijuana bill passed in 2013.

Possession with intent to distribute is still a felony. This means that that being caught with larger quantities of a substance, or being caught with substances and items such as scales and baggies commonly used for distribution, is still a fine owed.

Penalties for Denver Drug Distribution Convictions

The current penalties for Denver drug distribution vary. Those found guilty of distributing illegally face ranges from a Level 1 drug misdemeanor to a level 1 drug felony. The punishment for each crime is as follows:

  • Level 1 Drug Felony: 8 to 32 years in prison and $5,000 to $1 million in fines
  • Level 2 Drug Felony: 4 to 16 years in prison and $3,000 to $750,000 in fines
  • Level 3 Drug Felony: 2 to 6 years in prison and $2,000 to $500,000 in fines
  • Level 4 Drug Felony: 6 months to 2 years in prison and $1,000 to $100,000 in fines
  • Level 1 Drug Misdemeanor: 6 to 18 months in jail and $500 to $5,000 in fines

Defense Strategies for Denver Drug Distribution Charges

The most important way to defend against a drug distribution charge is to contact and work with an experienced Colorado defense attorney. A defense attorney specializing in drug-related charges will understand the different laws and regulations surrounding your case.

Some of the potential defenses strategies for distribution charges include:

  • Unreasonable search and seizure
  • Entrapment
  • Lack of evidence
  • Lack of intent
  • Plea bargaining

Denver Drug Crimes Defense Attorney

These defenses can help to reduce your charges or to get them dismissed entirely. Under the new law, showing a lack of intent to distribute can help to significantly reduce the penalties associated with a drug arrest for schedule one and two drugs. But, it takes an experienced attorney to understand the specific circumstances that can affect 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 & 2019” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state.  Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.

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