What is the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor in Colorado?
Classification of crimes under state and federal law is crucial for anyone who comes into contact with the criminal justice system. The penalties for the charges depend on the nature of the crime and how the law classifies it.
Experienced lawyers from a reputable Colorado Springs criminal litigation law firm explain the differences between felony and misdemeanor.
What Are Felony Crimes?
Felonies are the highest crime level and can be violent or non-violent offenses. The charges are more severe than misdemeanor crimes as they pose a more significant threat to public safety. They carry stiffer penalties than misdemeanors, including longer prison terms and more substantial fines.
A standard definition of a felony is a crime that carries a sentence of one year or more.
Types of Felony Crimes in Colorado
Facing charges for a felony is serious and can potentially alter the course of your life upon a conviction. Skilled Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyers can aggressively defend you against felony charges, including but not limited to:
- Drug Crimes
- Domestic Violence
- Financial Crimes
Convictions of felony crimes remain on your criminal record permanently. The conviction makes you ineligible to hold public office, travel abroad, or serve on a jury. You also lose some parental rights and your right to possess a firearm or vote in future elections. Criminal defense attorneys in Colorado Springs can aggressively defend you to protect your rights and future.
Classification of Felony Crimes in Colorado
Felony offenses in Colorado fall in one of the six classes or four levels of drug felonies, depending on the severity. They are categorized as follows, from the most severe to the least serious:
- Class 1 felony: Life imprisonment
- Class 2 felony: 8 to 24 years in prison
- Class 3 felony: 4 to 12 years in prison
- Class 4 felony: 2 to 6 years in prison
- Class 5 felony: 1 to 3 years in prison
- Class 6 felony: 1 year to 18 months in prison
The punishments for felonies and misdemeanors can be severe, so the criminal procedure must be strict to protect your rights. Working with skilled criminal defense attorneys in Colorado Springs enhances your chances of a favorable outcome in your case.
What are Misdemeanor Crimes?
Misdemeanors are less severe crimes, generally punishable by fines or imprisonment in the county jail for less than 18 months. Common examples of misdemeanors in Colorado are:
- Reckless driving
- Criminal Mischief
- Minor drug possession
The penalties depend on the severity of the charges and may not always include jail time. Aggressive criminal defense attorneys in Colorado Springs can help you fight the charges to get less stiff penalties, such as:
- Community service
- Classes or treatment
- Payment of restitution for the crime to the victim
Classification of Misdemeanors in Colorado
Colorado misdemeanors fall into three classes, with Class 1 being the most severe:
- Class 1 misdemeanors, punishable by six to 18 months in county jail, a $500 to $5,000 fine, or both.
- Class 2 misdemeanors, punishable by three to 12 months in jail, fines of between $250 and $1,000, or both.
- Class 3 misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $750, or both
Your criminal defense attorney can help you determine where your charges fall. Once they evaluate your case, they can use their criminal law knowledge and experience to help you create a solid defense strategy.
What is the Difference in Criminal Procedure for Felonies and Misdemeanors?
If a crime is a felony, some additional criminal procedures apply. For example, you have the right to a preliminary hearing in many felony cases to determine whether the police had probable cause to arrest you.
A court may charge felonies upon grand jury indictment, by written information, and in the case of some less severe felony cases a felony summons may be issued. In some cases, criminal defendants and witnesses can have their testimonies attacked by showing prior convictions for felonies, but not for most lesser crimes. Felony convictions can also lead to habitual offender enhancements to sentencing in subsequent felony cases.
Procedure for Misdemeanors
Misdemeanor charges are often initiated by a summons to appear in court, but may also be initiated by a warrant upon an information. Misdemeanor cases involving domestic violence not only carry mandatory arrest and booking, but also require bond to be set by a judge. Misdemeanor charges can also be generated alongside felonies.
Seek Legal Counsel on Felonies and Misdemeanors in Colorado
Understanding the differences between felony and misdemeanor offenses is crucial, especially when facing criminal charges. With the help of knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers in Colorado Springs, you can create a strong defense strategy to beat the charges.
Joyner Law is a reputable criminal litigation law firm in Colorado Springs. Our team of aggressive and experienced criminal defense attorneys can provide the legal counsel and representation you need to help you fight your criminal charges. Colorado has strict criminal laws, and you shouldn’t go to battle alone. Call us at (719) 294-0566 for a FREE strategy session.