Felony charges require serious action
If you have been arrested and charged with any kind of crime in Colorado Springs, you should contact and retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. If you have been charged with a felony crime, however, it is even more essential to have the best Colorado Springs felony lawyer you can find protecting your rights and preserving your future.
But what does it mean to be charged with a felony in Colorado Springs? It means you are being prosecuted for a serious criminal offense. It means you are facing time in a Colorado State Prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and a burden you will carry for decades. It means a lot is on the line.
Here are some common questions and answers about felonies provided by Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney James Newby which should make it even more clear why hiring a felony attorney is an absolute necessity if you are facing such charges.
Q: What are felonies and how are they different from misdemeanors?
A: Like most states, Colorado divides criminal offenses into two broad categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are generally less serious crimes. Perhaps the most fundamental difference between misdemeanors and felonies is the potential length of time behind bars and where you would spend that time upon conviction.
A Colorado Springs misdemeanor conviction can result in a maximum of one year of incarceration, which is served in a county or local jail here in El Paso County.
If you’re convicted of a felony and are sentenced to serve time, you will likely be sentenced to over a year behind bars which you will serve in one of Colorado’s 24 state prisons located throughout the state.
Q: Are there felonies I can be charged with under federal law?
A: In addition to felonies under Colorado law, there are crimes which are felonies under federal law. Federal felony offenses, which include crimes like terrorism, mail and wire fraud, drug trafficking, and certain crimes committed on federal property, are prosecuted in federal court and can result in time behind bars in federal prison. Sentences for federal felonies, especially drug crimes, are often much harsher than those imposed for similar offense under state law.
Q: Are there different kinds of Colorado felonies?
A: Colorado felony offenses are divided into six classes, each class based on the relative “seriousness” of the offense, as well as other factors such as prior criminal history or unique circumstances of the crime. The more serious the class of felony, the harsher the possible punishment.
Q: What sentences can I face if I’m convicted of a Colorado felony?
A: For each of Colorado’s six felony classes, the Colorado legislature has established a “presumptive range” of penalties that can be imposed upon conviction:
Class 6 Felony
o 12 to 18 months in prison
o fine of $1,000 to $100,000
o 1 year of parole.
Class 5 Felony
o 1 to 3 years in prison
o fine of $1,000 to $100,000
o 2 years of parole.
Class 4 Felony
o 2 to 6 years in prison
o fine of $2,000 to $500,000
o 3 years of parole.
Class 3 Felony
o 4 to 12 years in prison
o fine of $3,000 to $750,000
o 5 years of parole.
Class 2 Felony
o 8 to 24 years in prison
o fine of $5,000 to $1,000,000
o 5 years of parole.
Class 1 Felony
o Life imprisonment or death.
o no fines
o no parole
Reasons for "enhanced sentencing"
Judges may impose sentences beyond the presumptive range for certain types of felonies or felonies committed under specific circumstances. Generally, an enhanced sentence greater than the maximum of the presumptive range may be imposed if the felony was:
- a crime of violence
- an “extraordinary risk” crime
- committed by someone who is a “habitual criminal”
- committed against an “at-risk” victim
- committed with aggravating circumstances
Q: How will a Colorado felony conviction affect my future?
A: Years of your life and thousands of dollars out of your wallet aren’t the only things you can lose if you’re convicted on Colorado felony charges. After you’ve served your time, or even if you serve no time at all, a felony conviction can have a lifelong impact many of your fundamental rights and opportunities.
As a convicted felon, you can lose:
- your right to carry firearms
- your right to vote
- your right to travel abroad
- your eligibility for certain government benefits, loans, or grants
- some of your rights as a parent
- your right to serve on a jury
On top of that, many opportunities for employment, loans, housing, or professional licenses may be foreclosed to you in the future. If you’re a foreign national, a felony conviction may affect your immigration status and lead to deportation.
Q: Can a Colorado felony be expunged from my criminal record?
A: Individuals convicted of certain Colorado felonies may be able to petition a court to have the record of their conviction expunged or sealed such that it would no longer exist as far as third-parties such as prospective employers are concerned.
For felonies which may be eligible for expungement, a certain amount of time must pass after the completion of your sentence before you can ask the court to expunge the record, and you must not have committed any other offense or be facing charges during that period.
Certain felony convictions, however, can never be expunged, including violent crimes, sex offenses, and DUI convictions.