Felonies vs. Misdemeanors in Colorado: How to Protect Yourself When Facing Criminal Charges

difference between a felony and misdemeanor

Facing criminal charges in Colorado? Don’t go it alone. As criminal defense attorneys in Denver, we know how confusing it can be to navigate the complex legal system after an arrest.

That’s why we’re here to clearly explain the major differences between felonies and misdemeanors in Colorado – and how an attorney can help.

Felonies in Colorado Mean Serious Time Behind Bars

Let’s start with felonies. Simply put, felonies are the most serious classification of crimes in Colorado. If convicted, you could face over a year in prison. We’re talking about major offenses like murder, sexual assault, and armed robbery – crimes that carry steep consequences.

Not all felonies are created equal. Colorado ranks felonies from Class 1 (punishable by life in prison) to Class 6 (12-18 months in prison). Where your charges land depends on the severity of the alleged crime and your criminal history. For instance, a first-time simple drug possession may be a lower-class felony or a misdemeanor, while premeditated murder is a Class 1.

Beyond long prison sentences, felony convictions also bring collateral consequences that impact your life for years to come. You may struggle to find work and housing. Lose gun ownership and voting rights. Not be able to serve on a jury or hold public office. The stigma doesn’t go away.

Misdemeanors in Colorado Shouldn’t Be Taken Lightly, Either

Now, misdemeanors. These lesser crimes come with lighter punishments – up to 1 year in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or probation. Common misdemeanors are DUIs, petty theft, and simple assault. Still, we’re talking about criminal charges that call for experienced legal guidance.

The good news? Misdemeanors won’t haunt you in the same way as felonies. You can move forward with your life. But a misdemeanor conviction isn’t trivial either. It’s a crime that sticks on your record.

Felonies vs. Misdemeanors

To understand the stark differences in penalties, consider this overview of maximum sentences for sample felony and misdemeanor crimes in Colorado:

Crime Classification Statute Jail Time
Murder Class 1 Felony C.R.S. 18-3-102 Life in prison
Robbery Class 4 Felony C.R.S. 18-4-302 2-6 years prison
DUI – 1st offense Misdemeanor C.R.S. 42-4-1301 Up to 1 year jail
Assault – 3rd degree Misdemeanor C.R.S. 18-3-204 Up to 18 months jail

See the pattern here? Felonies are serious crimes with serious penalties. Misdemeanors are less severe – but still carry punishment you want to avoid.

Domestic Violence Has Life-Altering Consequences

Domestic violence charges also follow this felony/misdemeanor pattern. But these allegations come with added complexity, given the relationships involved. Aggravated assault, kidnapping, stalking – domestic violence felonies mean years in prison. Misdemeanor domestic violence also warrants legal help to avoid conviction.

“I’ve seen domestic violence charges unfairly leveled in heated divorces and custody battles. An accusation alone can ruin your reputation and future if not properly defended,” says Alexis Austin, criminal defense attorney and founder of Right Law Group.

Take These Charges Seriously and Contact a Lawyer

That’s why you need an advocate in your corner. As your criminal justice attorney, we’ll evaluate the facts of your unique case. Advise you on the smartest legal strategies. Fight to protect your rights, whether you’re facing a felony or misdemeanor. We aim to achieve the best possible outcome so you can move beyond this.

Facing criminal charges is daunting. But you have rights. And you don’t have to go it alone. We know you’re stressed. Worried about what the future holds. We get it. We’ve been there as an attorney, helping good people through the darkest times.

If you or someone you love is dealing with a felony or misdemeanor in Colorado, reach out. Let’s sit down and walk you through how we can help. You have options. And together, we’ll find the right way forward.

Common Questions About Facing Criminal Charges

If you’ve been arrested or charged with a crime in Colorado, you likely have many urgent questions.

Here are answers to some common concerns:

  • Should I speak to the police? You have the right to remain silent. Without a lawyer present, it’s generally best not to make statements that could incriminate you.
  • What happens at my first court appearance? The judge will inform you of the formal charges and your rights. Bail may be set or you can be released on your own recognizance.
  • How quickly do I need an attorney? Immediately. An experienced criminal lawyer can start building your defense and protecting your rights right away.

Don’t face the legal system alone. With so much at stake, speak with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Make sense of your charges and start fighting for your best outcome today.

Contact A Local Castle Rock Criminal Defense Attorney

Facing criminal charges in Colorado can feel overwhelming. But you don’t have to go through it alone. At Right Law Group, we’ve helped thousands of people resolve felony and misdemeanor charges throughout the state. How? With relentless, zealous and effective criminal defense.

Our team includes former prosecutors and district attorneys who know how to fight and win. We have decades of combined experience getting results and over 500+ reviews to prove it. With offices in Colorado Springs and Castle Rock, we are conveniently located to zealously defend your rights at every stage.

If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges, turn to the law group that levels the playing field against the government and stands up for people like you. Don’t leave your fate to chance. At Right Law Group, you’re not just another case – you’re our top priority. Call us for a free consultation today. Together, we will build a powerful defense so you can move forward with confidence.

Author Bio

alexis austin

Alexis Austin is the CEO and Managing Partner of Right Law Group, a criminal defense law firm she founded in 2018, with convenient locations in Colorado Springs, Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch. With almost a decade of experience in criminal defense, she has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, misdemeanors, felonies, domestic violence, and other criminal charges.

Alexis received her Juris Doctor from the University of Denver — Sturm College of Law and is a member of the Colorado Bar Association. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named among the “Top 40 Under 40” in 2018 by The National Trial Lawyers and featured in Authority Magazine’s “Top Lawyers” series.

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