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Colorado Sentencing and Penalties

When a defendant is not successful at trial, pleads guilty, or has their probation revoked, the last step in the Colorado criminal justice system is a sentencing hearing.  It is where a judge hears argument from both the prosecution and defense, as well as victims and defense character witnesses.  Before imposing sentence, the court will allow the defendant an opportunity to make a statement in his or her own behalf (known as allocution), and to present any information in mitigation of punishment.   The prosecution also shall be given an opportunity to be heard on any matter material to the imposition of sentence.  But how long of a sentence can a judge give a defendant?  It all depends on the classification of the crime one was convicted of:

Felony Sentencing

Felony sentences are served in state prison.  Sentences can run anywhere from 1 year to the rest of one’s life; and the state can, for certain crimes, also take one’s life.

Felony Sentences in Colorado
Class Minimum Sentence Maximum Sentence Mandatory Parole Fine
1 Life Death None None
2 8 years 24 years 5 years $5,000 – $1,000,000
3 4 years 12 years 5 years $3,000 – $750,000
4 2 years 6 years 3 years $2,000 – $500,000
5 1 year 3 years 2 years $1,000 – $100,000
6 1 year 18 months 1 year $1,000 – $100,000

The presence of any one or more of the following extraordinary aggravating circumstances require a court, if it sentences a defendant to incarceration, to sentence a defendant to a term of at least the midpoint in the presumptive range but not more than twice the maximum term authorized in the presumptive range for the punishment of a felony if:


Misdemeanor Sentencing

Misdemeanor sentences are served in county jail, generally for periods of less than 2 years.

Misdemeanor Sentences in Colorado
Class Minimum Sentence Maximum Sentence Fine
1 6 months 18 months $500 – $5,000
2 3 months 1 year $250 – $2,000
3 None 6 months $50 – $750

A defendant may also be sentenced to perform a certain number of hours of community or useful public service in addition to any other sentence.
Certain “extraordinary risk” crimes can increase the maximum possible sentence by 6 months.  These include the following:


Drug Charge Sentencing

Sentencing for drug charges in Colorado is different than regular for felonies and misdemeanors.  Depending on classification, one can spend anywhere from 6 months to 32 years in prison.

Drug Felony Sentences in Colorado
Class Presumptive Range Aggravated Range Mandatory Parole Fine
DF1 8 years* 32 years 12 years* 32 years 3 years $5,000 – $1,000,000
DF2 4 years 8 years 8 years 16 years 2 years $3,000 – $750,000
DF3 2 years 4 years 4 years 6 years 1 year $2,000 – $500,000
DF4 6 months 1 year 1 year 2 years 1 year $1,000 – $100,000

*A mandatory minimum sentence is required pursuant to C.R.S. § 18-1.3-401.5(7).
Except for a Level 1 drug felony, the presence of one or more aggravating factors require a court, if it sentences a defendant to incarceration, to sentence a defendant to a term of at least the midpoint in the presumptive range but not more than the maximum term of the aggravated range if:

Drug Misdemeanor Sentences in Colorado
Class Minimum Sentence Maximum Sentence Fine
DM1 6 months 18 months $500 – $5,000
DM2 None 1 year $50 – $750

DUI Sentencing

If a defendant is convicted of a DUI or DWAI, there are specific sentences that must be imposed.  Colorado Revised Statute § 42-4-1307 sets forth the required penalties.

DUI Sentences in Colorado
Class Minimum Sentence Maximum Sentence BAC .2+ Minimum BAC .2+ Maximum Fine UPS
DWAI 1st 2 days* 180 days 10 days* 1 year $200 – $500 24 – 48 hours
DUI 1st 5 days* 1 year 10 days* 1 year $600 – $1,000 48 – 96 hours
DUI/DWAI 2nd 10 days* 1 year 10 days* 1 year $600 – $1,500 48 – 120 hours
DUI/DWAI 3rd 60 days* 1 year 10 days* 1 year $600 – $1,500 48 – 120 hours
DUI/DWAI 4th 2 years 6 years 2 years 6 years  $2,000 – $500,000 None

* A mandatory minimum sentence is required pursuant to C.R.S. § 42-4-1307, although there are some limited exceptions.  Sentences also include victim impact panel, alcohol and drug evaluation and treatment, and monitored sobriety.


Traffic Sentencing

In Colorado, traffic violations are divided into two categories; traffic misdemeanors and traffic infractions.  Traffic infractions do not have jail sentences associated with them.  Traffic misdemeanors, on the other hand, have sentences that range from 10 days to 1 year in the county jail.

Traffic Violation Sentences in Colorado
Class Minimum Sentence Maximum Sentence Fine
Traffic Misdemeanors
TM1 10 days 1 year $300 – $1,000
TM2 10 days 90 days $150 -$300
Traffic Infractions
TIA None None $15 – $100
TIB None None $15 – $100

Traffic infractions and traffic misdemeanors are ineligible for record sealing pursuant to C.R.S. § 24-72-702(4).


Petty Offense Sentencing

Petty offenses in Colorado are divided into two categories; Class 1 and Class 2. Class 2 petty offenses rarely have a jail sentence associated with them.

Petty Offense Sentences in Colorado
Class Minimum Sentence Maximum Sentence Fine
PO1 None 6 months $500
PO2 None None See statute

If a defendant is cited for a Class 2 petty offense, and they choose to admit guilt, they may pay a specified fine within a certain limited time.  If they decide to contest the allegation, the defendant appears as required on the citation.  At trial, if the defendant is found guilty, the fine imposed shall be what was specified on the citation for the offense of which they were found guilty, but court costs can also be assessed in addition to the fine.


Municipal Sentencing

Municipal Ordinance Sentences in Colorado
Minimum Sentence Maximum Sentence Fine
None 1 year $2,650*

*Penalties for violation of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act are not included in this amount.

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