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Getting charged with a felony can result in prison time depending on the level. Probation is also a possibility depending on the crime and criminal history. Having a felony on your record can have a devastating effect on your employment, professional licensing and many other aspects of your life. It is very important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer represent you because of the high stakes involved. See the Colorado Criminal Code for more information on crimes in Colorado.
Many people who get charged with a crime are otherwise” good people” who made a mistake. Others had the misfortune of becoming involved in a toxic relationship. We see many people charged with crimes while going through a divorce or trying to end a romantic or business relationship. Other times they have problems with an addiction of one kind or another. Maybe they got involved with someone unstable who made exaggerated or false allegations against them. And many are innocent of the charges, especially when the accuser is an ex-spouse, partner or business associate.
An aggressive and strategic defense is essential to fighting any criminal charge. In many cases, an investigation of the alleged victim or other witness is helpful to the defense.
Relationship Cases (Domestic Violence)
In relationship cases where the victim was an intimate partner, the charge is also considered domestic violence. If given probation, domestic violence cases result in statutory conditions such as domestic violence classes. When charged with a domestic violence charge, you should be aware that the state will not allow the alleged victim to merely dismiss the case. The state pursues the case in spite of the victim’s wishes to dismiss in most cases. However, if the victim wants the case dismissed, that is a consideration in plea bargaining.
You should know that most prosecutors these days consider a “recanting” domestic violence witness to be a typical domestic violence victim. In the past, before these domestic violence laws went into effect, victims often recanted to their detriment. Then the state enacted laws taking away the victim’s obligation to pursue the case and doing it on behalf of the victim, whether recanting or not. Most states, including Colorado, will not let a victim dismiss a case just because they had a change of heart or decided to recant. In fact, prosecutors often have an “expert” testify about the battering cycle and abuse victims in cases where the alleged victim recants. I see many of these cases where the victim recants but exaggerated or outright lied in the first place. But it typically takes a thorough investigation and presentation to the DA to show that the victim might not actually be a victim. If the DA won’t be reasonable, there is always the option of going to trial and presenting the evidence to a jury.
Sexual Assault and “Date-Rape” Cases
There has been a lot of hysteria about “date-rape” and the “rape culture”. This hysteria demonizes men and applies a double standard to the behavior of men versus women. In the realm of “drunken sex”, men are now expected to be mindful of the woman’s intoxicated choices and determine whether the woman is able to appraise the situation when she consents. If she is too drunk, she is unable to consent. This is a problem for many men, especially young men when they too are very intoxicated. If charged with a sex crime, it is very important that you find an experienced lawyer who handles cases in that area of the law. We have been handling sex crime cases for almost 30 years.
Below is a sentencing chart for felonies in Colorado.
Sentencing Chart for Felonies Committed After July 1, 1993
|Presumptive Range||Exceptional Circumstances|
|1||Life Imprisonment||Death||Life Imprisonment||Death||-|
|2||8 years, $5,000||24 years, $1,000,000||4 years||48 years||5 years|
|3||4 years, $3,000||12 years, $750,000||2 years||24 years||5 years|
|3, Extraordinary Risk Crime||4 years, $3,000||16 years, $750,000||2 years||32 years||5 years|
|4||2 years, $2,000||6 years, $500,000||1 year||12 year||3 year|
|4, Extraordinary Risk Crime||2 years, $2,000||8 years, $500,000||1 year||16 year||3 year|
|5||1 year, $1,000||3 years, $100,000||6 months||6 years||2 years|
|5, Extraordinary Risk Crime||1 year, $1,000||4 years, $100,000||6 months||8 years||2 years|
|6||1 year, $1,000||18 months, $100,000||6 months||3 years||1 year|
|Extraordinary Risk Crime||1 year, $1,000||2 years, $100,000||6 months||4 years||1 year|
There is now a special sentencing scheme for drug cases. See the chart below. The system treats people who use drugs very differently from those who sell drugs. There is a tendency to treat people who possess drugs because of addiction as more of a victim of an illness. In such cases, there is often the possibility of getting the charge reduced to a misdemeanor and in some countries, there is a possibility of going to “drug court” which is a court for those suffering from an addiction.
The sale of drugs in larger quantities is usually prosecuted more aggressively in that the defendant is considered to be greedy rather than “sick” like those afflicted with addiction. Sometimes, those selling drugs are also addicts. Regardless, there is often a defense or mitigation that can be utilized in plea bargaining or preparing a defense for trial.
In drug distribution cases, often there is a setup with a “controlled buy” which typically consists of an undercover law enforcement officer or a confidential informant. These transactions are often recorded and used as evidence at trial. Often the informant is cooperating in order to gain favor in a pending prosecution. The use of informants can be explored for credibility and other defense strategies in a typical drug sale case. Below is a chart showing sentencing for drug felonies.
Sentencing Scheme for Drug Felonies
|Level||Minimum Sentence||Mandatory Parole|
|DF1||8 to 32 years imprisonment, $5,000 to $1 million fine or both||3 Years|
|DF2||4 to 8 years imprisonment, $3000 to $750,000 fine or both||2 Years|
|DF3||2 to 4 years imprisonment, $2,000 to $500,000 fine or both||1 Year|
|DF4||4 to 8 years imprisonment, $1,000 to $100,000 fine or both||1 Year|
|Level||Aggravated Range||Mandatory Parole|
|DF2||8 to 16 years imprisonment, $3000 to $750,000 fine or both||2 Years|
|DF3||4 to 6 years imprisonment, $2000 to $500,000 fine or both||1 Year|
|DF4||1 to 2 years imprisonment, $1000 to $100,000 fine or both||1 Year|