All states, including Colorado, divide crimes into felonies and misdemeanors. Misdemeanors in Colorado may be designated as class 1, 2, or 3, or unclassified. In addition, Colorado treats traffic and drug misdemeanors differently from other misdemeanor crimes. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-1.3-501, 18-1.3-504 (2020).)
In Colorado, misdemeanors are punishable by terms of 18 months or less in county or local jail. Felonies are more serious crimes, punishable by state prison terms of one year or more. For more information on felony crimes in Colorado, see Colorado Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
A class 1 misdemeanor is the most serious type of misdemeanor in Colorado. Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by six to 18 months in jail, a fine of $500 to $5,000, or both. Fighting in public, for example, is a class 1 misdemeanor. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-501 (2020).)
A class 2 misdemeanor carries a possible jail term of three months to 364 days, a fine of between $250 and $1,000, or both. Theft of property worth at least $300 but less than $750 is a class 2 misdemeanor. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-501 (2020).)
Class 3 misdemeanors are the least serious misdemeanors under Colorado’s laws, punishable by up to six months in jail, a fine of $50 to $750, or both. Prostitution, for instance, is a class 3 misdemeanor. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-501 (2020).)
In Colorado, unclassified misdemeanors typically have different possible jail sentences and maximum fines as provided for in the laws that define the crimes. However, if a statute designates a crime as a misdemeanor but fails to classify it and set a penalty for it, the offense is punishable by up to 364 days in jail, a fine of as much as $1,000, or both. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-1.3-504, 18-1.3-505 (2020).)
Colorado law divides drug misdemeanors into level 1 and level 2. Level 1 drug misdemeanors are typically punishable by between six and eighteen months in jail, a fine of between $500 and $5,000, or both. A level 2 drug misdemeanor conviction can result in up to 364 days in jail, $50 to $750 in fines, or both.
However, different sentencing options apply for many drug possession misdemeanors committed on or after March 1, 2020. Level 1 drug possession misdemeanors—such as possession of more than six ounces of marijuana—are punishable by a fine of as much as $1,000 and:
Level 2 drug possession misdemeanors, including possession of between two and six ounces of marijuana, are punishable by a fine of up to $500 and:
Penalties increase for third and subsequent convictions of a level 1 or level 2 drug possession misdemeanor. (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-1.3-501 (2020).)
Traffic misdemeanors are divided into class 1 and class 2. A class 1 traffic misdemeanor carries ten days to one year in jail, $300 to $1,000 in fines, or both. Class 2 traffic misdemeanors carry ten to 90 days in jail, $150 to $300 in fines, or both. Reckless driving, for instance, is a class 2 traffic misdemeanor. (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 42-4-1701 (2020).)
A statute of limitations is a time period during which the state must begin criminal prosecution. Charging a case after the statute has "run" enables the defendant to move to have the case dismissed. In Colorado, the state typically must begin prosecution of misdemeanors within 18 months of the date on which the crime is committed. Traffic misdemeanors, however, have a one-year statute of limitations. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 16-5-401 (2020).)
All criminal convictions, even misdemeanor convictions for seemingly trivial crimes, have serious consequences. If you are charged with any crime, talk to an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney about your case. An attorney can explain the charges you are facing, how the assigned judge and prosecutor are likely to handle your case, and what to expect in court. An attorney can also determine what defenses apply in your case and how to present the strongest arguments to protect your rights and achieve the best possible outcome.