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Colorado Drug Offenses

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Colorado Drug Offenses — The Penalties Could Be Severe. You Need To Act Fast — Your FREEDOM Could Be On The Line.

Colorado law prohibits the possession, use, distribution, or creation of controlled substances by private individuals. If you face drug charges in Colorado, an attorney can help you learn more about your rights, the penalties you may face, and how to avoid more severe penalties for drug use. Colorado law supports treatment, rather than punishment for addiction, particularly if you have not yet been convicted of drug offenses in the past or if you face relatively minor possession charges. A criminal defense attorney can help you navigate Colorado law and get a better idea of your rights.

When Should I Call a Colorado Drug Offenses Attorney?

Ideally, you should contact an attorney as soon as you face charges for drug offenses. An attorney can help you avoid inadvertently saying something you shouldn’t when dealing with the police after drug offense charges.

If you face drug charges, do not rely on a public defender to represent you. Even though they are trained attorneys, they have very large caseloads which makes it very difficult for you to get the personal attention and case review you deserve. Working directly with an experienced drug offense attorney in Colorado can help you better build your case and reduce the consequences you may face.

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Types of Drug Offenses in Colorado

Colorado breaks drug offenses down into several key categories.

Possession of a Controlled Substance

Possession of a controlled substance charges indicate that you were caught with controlled substances in your possession. Generally, this charge indicates that you were caught with a quantity of drugs that suggests personal use.

Possession with Intent to Distribute

Possession with intent to distribute charges suggest that you were caught with controlled substances in your possession in a larger quantity: one too big to qualify for personal use. It could also indicate that you clearly had plans to sell or otherwise distribute controlled substances.

Prescription Drug Fraud

Prescription drug fraud can occur in several ways. Typically, prescription drug fraud means that you have obtained prescription medication by misrepresenting your status: seeking drugs with intent to get high rather than to control actual pain, claiming that you are a medical practitioner and writing fake prescriptions, or acquiring a controlled substance through fraud, forgery, or deception.

Drug Manufacturing

Drug manufacturing charges claim that you are suspected of actually creating controlled substances, often with the intent to distribute them.

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What are the Drug Schedules in Colorado?

Colorado establishes five schedules for drugs.

  • Schedule I: Drugs with no acceptable medical use or that are unsafe for use in treatment. These may include heroin, LSD, and other drugs that have a high potential for abuse.
  • Schedule II: Drugs that can be used in some medical treatment cases, but which have a high potential for abuse. They may include prescription pain pills.
  • Schedule III: Drugs with acceptable medical uses, but which can cause considerable dependence challenges, including both physical and psychological addiction. These may include steroids or medications with codeine.
  • Schedule IV: Drugs that have some limited dependence challenges, like anti-anxiety medications, but which typically have safe medical uses.
  • Schedule V: Drugs with relatively low potential for abuse, but which may cause some limited dependence in some users. For example, cough syrups and cold medicine containing a small amount of codeine fall under Schedule V.

What are the Possible Penalties for Drug Offenses in Colorado?

The penalties you may face for drug offenses in Colorado can vary depending on the severity of the offense and any past offenses. However, those penalties can have a substantial impact on every area of your life.

Misdemeanor Charges

Drug use and drug possession charges usually fall into the misdemeanor category. When possible, Colorado law prefers to help drug users seek treatment, rather than imposing large outside penalties. Because of that, misdemeanor charges may include:

  • Treatment programs
  • Deferred sentencing
  • Help with mental health issues

However, you may still face some penalties for misdemeanor charges for drug use, and having those charges on your record can make it more difficult for you to obtain employment later. A lawyer can help you determine how those charges will be represented on your record and what penalties you might face in the future.

Felony Charges

If you face more serious drug charges, including sales/distribution and manufacturing, you may find yourself facing felony charges. Felony charges can mean:

  • Jail time
  • Fines

For the most serious Colorado drug felony convictions, including repeat convictions, felony drug charges may result in up to 32 years in prison and up to $1,000,000 in fines. The severity of the penalties you will face for felony drug charges may depend on the schedule of the drug, the quantity involved, and whether you have a past history of drug crimes. The more severe the offense, the greater the penalties you may face.

If you have been accused of a drug crime in Colorado, get in touch with an experienced Colorado drug offense attorney as soon as possible for help minimizing those consequences and addressing the challenges you may face.

Colorado criminal procedure

  • Arrest or

    Arrest or

    The process begins with either an arrest or a summons. The accused is either arrested or served with paperwork summoning them to appear in court. During an arrest, Miranda rights may or may not be read to you. Officers are only required to recite your rights if they intend to question you about potentially incriminating things.

  • Bond Hearing

    Bond Hearing

    In most cases, you're entitled to have a reasonable bond set after you've been arrested. In situations involving domestic violence, the police will request input from the victim before setting a bond. Bonds are set to ensure that a person appears in court at their court dates. If they don’t show up, they forfeit the money that was paid for the bond.

  • Advisement of

    Advisement of

    Whether you are arrested or given a summons to appear, the court must make sure you understand what crimes you are being accused of committing. This is called advisement of charges. The District Attorney will detail the specific charges against you, and the Judge has to make sure you understand what possible penalties are associated with that charge in the state.

  • Preliminary Hearing
    (for Higher Felony

    Preliminary Hearing
    (for Higher Felony

    A preliminary hearing is a way for your defense attorney to challenge the District Attorney’s right to bring charges against you by making them prove that there is reason to believe you committed a crime. The Judge is not deciding your guilt or innocence, but rather whether or not there is probable cause to charge you with the crime in question.

  • Pretrial Conference /

    Pretrial Conference /

    This court date comes after your attorney has reviewed all of the reports and evidence in your case. Here’s where your attorney will engage in plea negotiations with the DA. If they can reach an agreement on the case, you may be able to take a plea bargain. If they cannot reach a resolution, your case will be set for an arraignment or trial date.

  • Arraignment


    An arraignment is the final date for you to decide how you choose to plea. Guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty, then the case is set for a sentencing date. If you plead not guilty, you and your attorney will then set the case for trial.

  • Motions Hearing

    Motions Hearing

    A motion hearing is when an attorney makes a request that requires a decision from the judge. For example, motions to suppress evidence or statements. These motions can limit the information that goes before a jury if it benefits your case, and there are legal grounds for doing so.

  • Pretrial Readiness

    Pretrial Readiness

    A pretrial readiness conference is held at some point before trial. It usually is held about a week to a month before the date trial is set to begin. This court date ensures everyone is ready to go to trial on the set date. It is also a time for lawyers to bring up any issues they may have to be addressed before the day of trial.

  • Jury Trial

    Jury Trial

    After a jury is selected for trial, the District Attorney’s responsibility is to present the case to the jury. The DA must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of the crime. Otherwise, the jury must find you innocent. Your attorney will be able to cross-examine all of the witnesses, present evidence, and ultimately help you navigate this process.

  • Sentencing


    At sentencing, the Judge must decide the appropriate legal penalty for the crime you plead guilty. The Judge’s decision is based on the listed penalties for the specific charge, recommendations from the presentence investigation, your criminal history, as well as statements made at the sentencing by the District Attorney, your attorney, you, and any named victims of the crime.

What is the sentence for misdemeanors in Colorado?

  • Class 1

  • 6 to 18 months in county jail, and/or
  • $500 to $5,000 in fines
  • For extraordinary risk class 1 misdemeanors, the maximum jail sentence is 24 months.
  • For 3rd-degree assault (CRS 18-3-204), the maximum sentence can be 48 months if the victim was on duty as a:
    • Peace officer,
    • Emergency medical provider,
    • Firefighter, or
    • Mental health professional at the Department of Human Services.
  • Class 2

  • 3 to 12 months in county jail, and/or
  • $250 to $1,000 in fines

What are Colorado felony penalties?

  • Class 1

  • Life imprisonment
  • No Colorado crime carries the death penalty.
  • Class 2

  • 8 – 24 years in Colorado State Prison, and/or
  • $5,000 – $1,000,000
  • 5 years of mandatory parole if the offense is a crime of violence. Otherwise, 3 years of mandatory parole.
  • Class 3

  • 4-12 years in prison
  • Fines of up to $750,000 but not less than $3,000
  • 3 years of parole
  • Class 4

  • 2 – 6 years in prison, and/or
  • $2,000 – $500,000
  • 3 years of mandatory parole
  • For extraordinary risk class 4 felonies, the maximum sentence is 8 years in prison.
  • Class 5

  • 1 – 3 years in prison, and/or
  • $1,000 – $100,000
  • 2 years of mandatory parole
  • For extraordinary risk class 5 felonies, the maximum sentence is 4 years in prison.
  • Class 6

  • 1 – 18 months years in prison, and/or
  • $1,000 – $100,000
  • 1 year of mandatory parole
  • For extraordinary risk class 6 felonies, the maximum sentence is 2 years in prison.



Ask A Criminal Defense Attorney

At Right Law Group, we understand the stress you are under. Our Criminal Defense Law Firm is here to guide you down the right path to your legal challenge. Whether you are facing your first DUI, a drug charge, need a restraining order, or are facing another type of criminal charge, our firm is committed to your well-being and protecting your rights the right way.

Does the Controlled Substance Act apply to Colorado?

The Controlled Substance Act is a federal act that places all drugs into a schedule, ranking them by severity. In Colorado, the law follows this act for the most part. The main exception is for marijuana which has been legalized for both medical and recreational use in Colorado.

Which drug carries the highest criminal penalties?

Schedule I drugs are the most serious, and offenses regarding these drugs will carry the highest penalties. Some Schedule I drugs include:

• Heroin



• Mescaline

• Peyote

• Psilocybin

What is a nonviolent drug offense?

Non-violent drug offenses in Colorado are usually offenses involving the possession or personal use of illegal drugs. If no one else is impacted by the drug offense, it is usually considered non-violent.

Experienced Drug Offenses Lawyer

Colorado Springs Drug Offenses Lawyer Near You

When you’re charged with any drug offenses in Colorado, you need a lawyer who is familiar with the laws and knows how the court system works. Criminal defense attorneys work with you to help you establish a strong defense. Even if you believe that a conviction is inevitable, a Colorado Springs drug offenses lawyer can help you fight for a lesser charge, a reduced sentence, or another more favorable outcome. Contact us right away for a free case consultation.