Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Charges and Penalties
A criminal conviction can drastically affect the rest of your life. You may face the possibility of jail time, fines and other penalties, and your reputation may be damaged. Additionally, a conviction may prevent you from finding work and/or housing in the future. Since so much hangs in the balance, you should always work a criminal defense lawyer with a history of success. Even innocence is not always an ironclad defense – law enforcement and prosecutors may not care about your side of the story, but will simply focus on getting a conviction. An attorney can work to enforce your rights and expose any misconduct or negligence that may have led to your arrest. In many cases, a good lawyer can get your charges or penalties reduced, minimizing the negative impact on your life.
If you have been arrested or someone you know was taken into police custody, then you should find a lawyer as quickly as possible. No matter what kinds of charges you face, from a misdemeanor to a felony, finding an attorney you trust is essential. To speak with a local Colorado criminal lawyer today, consult our local listings.
What Are the Basic Types of Criminal Charges?
The type of criminal charge you face may vary depending on the nature of the alleged crime. Although each state has its own specific classifications, the general types of charges are:
- Infraction. An infraction is the least serious type of charge you can face. In fact, some states handle infractions as civil cases, rather than criminal cases. Traffic violations and other minor offenses usually fall into this category. Jail is generally not a possibility for infractions, so you are not entitled to a jury trial and the state will usually not appoint you a lawyer. However, you can still hire one of your own.
- Petty offense. Some states, including Colorado, categorize low-level criminal conduct as petty offenses. This may include illegal acts like gambling, disturbing the peace, public indecency, pollution violations and theft of items of low value.
- Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a more serious charge and county courts typically handle these cases. Common misdemeanor charges include assault, criminal trespass, theft and certain drug crimes, including possession and sale.
- Felony. This is the most serious type of criminal charge and state and/or federal courts usually handle these cases. Common felonies include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, vehicular homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and certain drug crimes.
In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution to reduce the severity of the charges you face. If the court reduces your charge from a low-level felony to a misdemeanor, for example, then the repercussions you face may be much less serious.
What Is the Penalty for a Misdemeanor in Colorado?
Each state has its own system for classifying misdemeanor and felony charges, and penalties may vary as well. The general penalties you may face for different types of criminal charges in Colorado are:
- Class 2 Petty Offense. This is the least severe type of criminal charge you may face. These petty offenses may include littering, theft by resale, pollution and providing cigarettes to minors. The court handles these on a case-by-case basis, so the penalties may vary, though fines and jail time are possible.
- Class 1 Petty Offense. These low-level crimes may include disturbing the peace, illegal gambling, public indecency and third-degree criminal trespass. Penalties may include fines up to $500 and a maximum of six months in jail.
- Traffic Misdemeanor. Colorado law separates traffic violations from other misdemeanors. Usually divided into either a Class 1 or Class 2 petty offense, traffic violations may include reckless driving, excessive speeding and more. Penalties include fines ranging from $150 to $1,000. You may also face 10 days to one year of jail time.
- Class 3 Misdemeanor. These crimes include third-degree trespass, prostitution and theft of items less than $100 in value. Penalties for Class 3 misdemeanors may include fines of $50 to $750 and/or up to six months of jail time.
- Class 2 Misdemeanor. This category includes crimes such as theft of property worth between $100 and $500, as well as manufacture or sale of drug paraphernalia, and illegal possession of a firearm. Class 2 misdemeanor penalties may include fines from $250 to $1,000 and/or between three months and a year of jail time.
- Class 1 Misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanor charges include third-degree assault, indecent exposure and unlawful sexual contact. A Class 1 misdemeanor may be punishable by six to 18 months of jail time and/or fines from $500 to $5,000.
What Is the Penalty for a Felony in Colorado?
Like misdemeanors, each state has its own system for what qualifies as a felony and what penalties may result from a conviction. In Colorado, possible felony charges and penalties include:
- Class 6 Felony. Class 6 felonies may include crimes such as possession of methamphetamine (up to two grams) and possession of a weapon on school grounds. Penalties typically include 12 to 18 months in jail and/or fines from $1,000 to $10,000.
- Class 5 Felony. This category may include stalking and failure to register as a sex offender. Penalties can include one to three years of jail time and/or fines from $1,000 to $100,000.
- Class 4 Felony. These include crimes such as manslaughter, possession of certain controlled substances and robbery. Common penalties include two to six years in prison and/or a fine between $2,000 and $500,000.
- Class 3 Felony. A Class 3 felony may include crimes like vehicular homicide, sexual assault, certain drug crimes and first or second degree burglary. Penalties often include fines between $3,000 and $750,00 and/or four to 12 years of jail time.
- Class 2 Felony. These crimes include second-degree murder, aggravated sexual assault, sale of controlled substances and second-conviction for some drug crimes. Penalties can include fines between $5,000 and $1 million, and/or eight to 24 years in prison.
- Class 1 Felony. The most serious type of criminal charge possible, a Class 1 felony may include first-degree murder and first-degree kidnapping. The penalty may be life in prison or the death penalty.
Need a Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer? We Can Help
If you are facing any level of criminal charge, then a qualified lawyer may be essential to protecting your future. Additionally, if someone you know is currently in police custody, then you may wish to reach out to a lawyer on his or her behalf. To find a Colorado criminal defense lawyer in your area, then consult our attorney listings. If you have general question about criminal law or certain charges, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers.