Like all states, Colorado divides crimes into felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are more serious crimes, punishable by state prison terms of one year or more. Misdemeanors are less serious crimes, punishable by county or local jail terms of up to 18 months.
For more information on misdemeanors in Colorado, see Colorado Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Felonies in Colorado may be designated as Class 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6. Some felonies in Colorado are unclassified. For unclassified felonies, the sentence is set out in the criminal statute. If no penalty is fixed, then a felony is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Sentencing laws in Colorado have changed over time and the sentences set out below apply to crimes committed after July 1, 1993. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-1.3-401, 18-1.3-402, 18-1.3-403.)
Class 1 Felonies
Class 1 felonies are the most serious crimes in Colorado, punishable by life imprisonment or the death penalty. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-401.) First degree murder is an example of a class 1 felony.
Class 2 Felonies
Class 2 felonies in Colorado are punishable by eight to 24 years in prison and a fine of $5,000 to $1,000,000. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-401.) A second conviction for selling Schedule I or II drugs is a class 2 felony.
For more information on drug crimes, see Colorado Sale of a Controlled Substance Laws.
Class 3 Felonies
A conviction for a class 3 felony can result in a state prison sentence of four to 12 years and a fine of $3,000 to $750,000. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-401.) For example, patronizing a prostituted child is a class 3 felony.
Class 4 Felonies
Class 4 felonies are punishable by two to six years’ imprisonment and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-401.) Sexual assault is an example of a class 4 felony.
For more information on sex crimes, see Colorado Sexual Battery Laws.
Class 5 Felonies
Colorado’s laws impose a sentence of one to three years in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000 for a class 5 felony conviction. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-401.) Theft of property from a person is a class 5 felony.
For more information on theft penalties, see Colorado Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws.
Class 6 Felonies
Class 6 felonies are the least serious felonies in Colorado, punishable by one year to 18 months in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-401.) Possession of up to two grams of methamphetamine is a class 6 felony.
For more information on this crime, see Possession of a Controlled Substance in Colorado.
Statute of Limitations
For many crimes, there is a time period, called the statute of limitations, during which the state must begin criminal prosecution or the defendant can have the case dismissed. For many felonies in Colorado, the state has three or five years from the date the crime is committed to begin criminal prosecution. Very serious felonies, such as murder, kidnapping, treason, and sex offenses against children, have no statutes of limitations and the state can begin criminal prosecution at any time.
For more information, see Colorado Criminal Statute of Limitations.
Obtaining Legal Assistance
Felony convictions can have life-long consequences. If you are charged with a felony, talk to an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney about your case. An attorney can explain the charges you are facing, the defenses that might apply, and the different options available to you. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system and protect your rights.