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CRS 18-18-405

Colorado Unlawful Distribution, Manufacturing, Dispensing, or Sale

Colorado statute CRS 18-18-405—known as unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, or sale of a controlled substance—can be categorized between a Level 1 drug misdemeanor and a Level 1 drug felony, depending on several factors. A Level 1 felony could be punishable by up to 32 years in prison and $1 million in fines.

Let’s face it. Life happens.

No one wants to get in trouble, but when it happens, what do you do?

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, the best decision you can make is to
hire a good criminal defense attorney. With the right defense lawyer in your corner, you
will be advised and guided towards the best outcome for your case.

Penalties for Unlawful Distribution, Manufacturing, Dispensing, or Sale in Colorado

Description Classification Penalty
More than 225 grams of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance, or

More than 112 grams of methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones; or

More than 50 milligrams of flunitrazepam; or

More than 50 grams of fentanyl, carfentanil, benzimidazole opiate, or an analog thereof; or

An adult transfers any quantity of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance to a minor and the adult is at least two years older than the minor; or

The defendant committed a violation of certain subsections, and those actions are the proximate cause of the death of another person who used or consumed the material, compound, mixture, or preparation that contained fentanyl, carfentanil, benzimidazole opiate, or an analog thereof.

Felony

 

Level 1: 

  • 8–32 years in prison
  • $5,000–$1 million in fines
  • Up to 3 years of parole
14-225 grams of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance; or

7–112 grams of methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones; or

10–50  milligrams of flunitrazepam; or

4-50 grams of fentanyl, carfentanil, benzimidazole opiate, or an analog thereof; or

An adult transfers any quantity of a Schedule III or Schedule IV controlled substance to a minor and the adult is at least two years older than the minor;

Felony Level 2: 

  • 4–8 years in prison
  •  $3,000–$750,000 in fines
  • Up to 2 years of parole
Less than 14  grams of a Schedule I or Schedule II controlled substance; or

Less than 7 grams of methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones; or

Less than 10 milligrams of flunitrazepam; or

More than 4 grams of a Schedule III or Schedule IV controlled substance; or

Less than 4 grams of fentanyl, carfentanil, benzimidazole opiate, or an analog thereof.

Felony Level 3: 

  • 2–4 years in prison
  •  $2,000–$500,000 in fines
  • Up to 1 year of parole
Less than 4 grams of a Schedule III or Schedule IV controlled substance Felony Level 4: 

  • 6 months–1 year in prison
  •  $1,000–$100,000 in fines
  • Up to 1 year of parole
Any amount of a Schedule V controlled substance; or

A transfer of less than 4 grams of a Schedule III or Schedule IV controlled substance

Misdemeanor Level 1: 

  • 6–8 months in prison
  •  $500–$5,000 in fines
(Colo. Rev. Stat. 18-18-405)

Possible Defenses for Unlawful Distribution, Manufacturing, Dispensing, or Sale in Colorado

When you’ve been charged with unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, or sale of a controlled substance in Colorado, the prosecutor will be responsible for proving that you:

  • Knew the substance was in your possession
  • Knew it was a controlled substance
  • Intended to distribute, manufacture, dispense, or sell the controlled substance

With these elements of proof in mind, some possible defenses when you’re charged with this crime are:

  • You didn’t know what you possessed was a controlled substance
  • The drugs were not for distribution or sale
  • You were legally permitted to sell or manufacture the drug
  • The drugs were located by authorities during a search that was unlawful

It is the prosecuting district attorney’s responsibility to convince a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of knowingly possessing and unlawfully selling or manufacturing the illegal substance.

Colorado Revised Statutes, CRS 18-18-405:

18-18-405. Unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, or sale.

 (1)(a) Except as authorized by part 1 of article 280 of title 12, part 2 of article 80 of title 27, part 2 or 3 of this article 18, or by “the Natural Medicine Health Act of 2022”, article 170 of title 12 it is unlawful for any person knowingly to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, or to possess with intent to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, a controlled substance; or induce, attempt to induce, or conspire with one or more other persons, to manufacture, dispense, sell, distribute, or possess with intent to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute, a controlled substance; or possess one or more chemicals or supplies or equipment with intent to manufacture a controlled substance.

(b) As used in this subsection (1), “dispense” does not include labeling, as defined in section 12-280-103(23).

(2) Except as otherwise provided for an offense concerning marijuana and marijuana concentrate in section 18-18-406 and for special offenders as provided in section 18-18-407, any person who violates any of the provisions of subsection (1) of this section:

(a) Commits a level 1 drug felony and is subject to the mandatory sentencing provisions in section 18-1.3-401.5(7) if:

(I) The violation involves any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that weighs:

(A) More than two hundred twenty-five grams and contains a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance; or

(B) More than one hundred twelve grams and contains methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones; or

(C) More than fifty milligrams and contains flunitrazepam; or

(D) More than fifty grams and contains fentanyl, carfentanil, benzimidazole opiate, or an analog thereof as described in section 18-18-204(2)(g); or

(II) An adult sells, dispenses, distributes, or otherwise transfers any quantity of a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance or any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that contains any amount of a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance, other than marijuana or marijuana concentrate, to a minor and the adult is at least two years older than the minor;

(III)(A) Except as provided in section 18-1-711(3)(i), the defendant committed a violation of subsection (2)(a)(I)(D), (2)(b)(I)(D), or (2)(c)(V) of this section, and the actions in violation of subsection (2)(a)(I)(D), (2)(b)(I)(D), or (2)(c)(V) of this section are the proximate cause of the death of another person who used or consumed the material, compound, mixture, or preparation that contained fentanyl, carfentanil, benzimidazole opiate, or an analog thereof as described in section 18-18-204(2)(g).

(B) Notwithstanding subsection (2)(a)(III)(A) of this section, a defendant who committed a violation of subsection (2)(c)(V) of this section, and the actions in violation of subsection (2)(c)(V) of this section are the proximate cause of the death of another person who used or consumed the material, compound, mixture, or preparation that contained fentanyl, carfentanil, benzimidazole opiate, or an analog thereof as described in section 18-18-204(2)(g), is not subject to the mandatory sentencing requirement as described in section 18-1.3-401.5(7).

(b) Commits a level 2 drug felony if:

(I) The violation involves any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that weighs:

(A) More than fourteen grams, but not more than two hundred twenty-five grams, and contains a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance;

(B) More than seven grams, but not more than one hundred twelve grams, and contains methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones;

(C) More than ten milligrams, but not more than fifty milligrams, and contains flunitrazepam; or

(D) More than four grams, but not more than fifty grams, and contains fentanyl, carfentanil, benzimidazole opiate, or an analog thereof as described in section 18-18-204(2)(g);

(II) An adult sells, dispenses, distributes, or otherwise transfers any quantity of a schedule III or schedule IV controlled substance or any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that contains any quantity of a schedule III or schedule IV controlled substance to a minor and the adult is at least two years older than the minor;

(c) Commits a level 3 drug felony if the violation involves any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that weighs:

(I) Not more than fourteen grams and contains a schedule I or schedule II controlled substance;

(II) Not more than seven grams and contains methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones;

(III) Not more than ten milligrams and contains flunitrazepam;

(IV) More than four grams and contains a schedule III or schedule IV controlled substance; or

(V) Not more than four grams and contains fentanyl, carfentanil, benzimidazole opiate, or an analog thereof as described in section 18-18-204(2)(g).

(d) Commits a level 4 drug felony if:

(I) The violation involves any material, compound, mixture, or preparation that weighs not more than four grams and contains a schedule III or schedule IV controlled substance; or

(II) Notwithstanding the provisions of paragraph (c) of this subsection (2), the violation involves distribution or transfer of the controlled substance for the purpose of consuming all of the controlled substance with another person or persons at a time substantially contemporaneous with the transfer; except that this subparagraph (II) applies only if the distribution or transfer involves not more than four grams of a schedule I or II controlled substance or not more than two grams of methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones;

(e) Commits a level 1 drug misdemeanor if the violation involves:

(I) A schedule V controlled substance; or

(II) A transfer with no remuneration of not more than four grams of a schedule III or schedule IV controlled substance.

(2.1) Repealed by Laws 2007, Ch. 383, § 10, eff. July 1, 2007.

(2.3)(a) Deleted by Laws 2010, Ch. 259, § 3, eff. Aug. 11, 2010.

(b) Repealed by Laws 2007, Ch. 383, § 10, eff. July 1, 2007.

(2.5) Repealed by Laws 2013, Ch. 333, § 10, eff. Oct. 1, 2013.

(2.6) Repealed by Laws 2007, Ch. 383, § 10, eff. July 1, 2007.

(3) Repealed by Laws 2013, Ch. 333, § 10, eff. Oct. 1, 2013.

(3.5) Repealed by Laws 2013, Ch. 333, § 10, eff. Oct. 1, 2013.

(4) Repealed by Laws 1997, H.B.97-1077, § 10, eff. July 1, 1997.

(5) When a person commits unlawful distribution, manufacture, dispensing, sale, or possession with intent to manufacture, dispense, sell, or distribute any schedule I or schedule II controlled substance, as listed in section 18-18-203 or 18-18-204, flunitrazepam, ketamine, or cathinones, or conspires with one or more persons to commit the offense, pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, twice or more within a period of six months, without having been placed in jeopardy for the prior offense or offenses, the aggregate amount of the schedule I or schedule II controlled substance, flunitrazepam, ketamine, or cathinones involved may be used to determine the level of drug offense.

(6) Repealed by Laws 2009, Ch. 347, § 5, eff. Aug. 5, 2009.

(7) Repealed by Laws 2013, Ch. 333, § 10, eff. Oct. 1, 2013.

 

Have You Been Charged or Arrested for Distributing, Manufacturing, Dispensing, or Selling a Controlled Substance Unlawfully in Colorado Springs or El Paso County?

The first thing you need to know is that this is a criminal charge that comes with serious consequences. Hefty fines are a possibility, as well as jail time or even prison. In order for the DA to convict you, though, they will have to convince a jury that you acted knowingly and with the intent to unlawfully sell a controlled substance.

A criminal conviction requires that the jury be able to find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. There are many possible defenses to this charge, including that you unknowingly possessed the substance or that your actions were legal under Colorado law. Still, in order to defend yourself against a charge of unlawful sale or distribution, you need to understand how the law applies to your situation and what the El Paso County District Attorney must prove.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do drug convictions stay on your record?

In Colorado, certain drug felony convictions can be sealed after a waiting period has expired. For misdemeanor drug convictions, you can petition for the record to be sealed after two years. For level 3 or 4 felony drug convictions, you have to wait three years and for level 2 felony drug convictions you have to wait five years.

Level 1 drug felony convictions cannot be sealed in the state of Colorado, and if you have multiple felony drug offenses, this may impact your ability to petition for sealing your record.

What are other consequences of being convicted of unlawful distribution?

Aside from jail time, fines, and parole sentences, having a drug conviction on your record could result in other complicating factors in Colorado. For example, you could experience difficulty finding employment, face issues with professional licenses, and you could even be at risk of immigration issues if you’re not a U.S. citizen.

What aggravating factors can increase your sentence for unlawful distribution?

Aside from the built-in sentence increases for the more serious types and higher quantities of a controlled substance, other factors that could increase your unlawful distribution charge are whether you have a previous criminal record related to drugs and whether or not you were on probation or parole when the offense was committed.