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Law Firm of Lindsey Daugherty | Denver, Colorado Attorney

Colorado Felonies and Sentencing Guidelines

There are statutory parameters that judges are required to follow when sentencing convicted criminals. Once a criminal is given a sentence, they must carry out the full term of that sentence. It is a common misconception that when a person is released from prison for good behavior their sentence has been reduced. In reality the person is merely finishing out their sentence on parole rather than in prison.

The following is a table indicating the statutory sentencing guidelines for felonies:

Class 1 Felony
Class 2 Felony
Class 3 Felony
Class 4 Felony
Class 5 Felony
Class 6 Felony
Minimum Sentence
Life in Prison
8 years in prison
4 years in prison
2 years in prison
1 year in prison
1 year in prison
Maximum Sentence
Death Penalty
24 years in prison
12 years in prison
6 years in prison
3 years in prison
18 months in prison

There are five special sentencing categories that can increase or decrease the person’s sentence:

1.      Extraordinary mitigating or aggravating circumstances: If there are mitigating factors, then the judge may reduce the sentence by as much as half of the minimum sentence required. If there are aggravating factors, then the judge may extend the sentence by up to double the maximum statutory guideline.

2.      Crime of violence: If the person commits a crime of violence, their sentence must be at the least the midpoint in the sentencing guidelines and at most double the maximum sentence. Crimes of violence include murder, kidnapping, first or second degree assault, and sexual offenses.

3.      Extraordinary aggravating circumstances: Crimes with extraordinary aggravating circumstances require that the criminal be sentenced to at least the midpoint of the sentencing guideline and at most double the maximum guideline. These crimes include instances when a felon is on parole and commits another felony or when a prisoner commits a crime.

4.      Sentence-enhancing circumstances: If there are sentence-enhancing circumstances, the judge must order the at least the minimum sentence from the guidelines and up to double the maximum guideline. This typically arises when the person commits another crime while on bond for a different felony.

5.      Crimes presenting an extraordinary risk of harm to society: If the offender commits a crime that is deemed to present an extraordinary risk of harm to society, the maximum sentence for the crime is increased by 6 months up to 4 years, depending on the severity of the felony. These types of crimes include aggravated robbery, child abuse, distribution or manufacture of controlled substances with the intent to sell, and stalking.

Colorado also has a habitual offender statute that dictates how felons are to be sentenced if they commit a certain number of felonies in a certain number of years. The increase is, at minimum, three times the maximum sentence available. This means that many felons will be sentenced to life in prison if they commit more than four felonies in ten years.