Can One Felony Ruin Your Life in Colorado?
If you or someone you love is facing felony charges in Colorado Springs, one question that might cross your mind is, “Can one felony ruin your life?
The “My life is ruined” response is a common one that we often hear from our Colorado Springs clients that are facing criminal felony charges. What will the outcome be? Can a single felony ruin my life?
The good news is that your future does not have to be ruined for life just because of a single felony. In this post, we will delve into felony charges and the long-term impacts of a felony conviction in Colorado.
What Are Felony Crimes in Colorado?
Before we dive into the details of how a felony may ruin your life, let’s define felony crimes in Colorado.
Felonies are any crimes that are punishable by imprisonment of one year or more. In contrast, a misdemeanor crime is a lesser charge with much less drastic punishment.
Following a conviction for a felony charge in a Colorado court, a person is described as a convicted felon.
What is the Difference Between A Misdemeanor And A Felony?
There is a significant difference between a misdemeanor and a felony, especially in terms of jail terms and prison locations.
While both are criminal charges, misdemeanors are less severe than felonies. Crimes classified as misdemeanors have less severe jail time that is typically under one year of incarceration.
Most people who serve time for misdemeanors serve their sentences in county jail. People convicted of felonies often serve multi-year sentences in a federal or state prison.
What are the Different Classes of Felony in Colorado?
Colorado categorizes felonies by classification or “class” using the numbers 1 through 6. Class 1 felonies – aka F1 for Felony 1 – are the most serious. Class 6 (i.e., F6) felonies are the least serious.
The judge uses these classes to determine how long the prison sentence will be. Fine amounts are set based on the classes. Lawyers and judges often refer to a felony’s class by the number. So, “F2,” for example, is just a short way to say a “class 2 felony.”
Some felonies in Colorado are unclassified. For example, “knowing endangerment of air quality” can be a felony charge if it places others in imminent danger of death or serious injury. For unclassified felonies, the Colorado criminal statutes define the sentence and fines.
Will an F1 felony ruin your life? Maybe, but maybe not. Let’s explore the different types of felony charges.
What are Examples of Felony Charges
Below is a list of the felonies charges we see the most in Colorado Springs:
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
- Drug Crimes
- Property Crimes (theft, burglary, shoplifting, auto theft, arson, larceny, etc.)
- Aggravated Assault
- Domestic Violence Charges
- Child Abuse
- Violent Crimes (murder, manslaughter, rape, robbery)
- Carrying Unlicensed Deadly Weapons
- Forgery and Counterfeiting
What Will Happen If the Court Charges Me with A Felony?
When the court charges you with a felony in Colorado, the first thing it will do is file the charges. You have an opportunity at this step to listen to all the criminal charges against you.
After hearing the charges, you will then enter your plea. At this point, it’s usually a good idea to enter a “not guilty” plea. That being said, you should always speak to a defense attorney before you enter a plea.
The court may also set bail amounts, together with a date for the preliminary hearing.
What Life-time Restrictions Might Cause a Felony Ruin Your Life?
Depending on which felony the court convicted you of, the penalty for jail time and fine can vary. Beyond prison and fines, there are several restrictions you’ll face for the remainder of your life when you’re a convicted felon.
For some people, these may be the elements of a felony that ruin their life. You’ll never be able to:
- Carry or purchase a weapon or firearm.
- Apply for a license as an educator or peace officer.
- Hold an office of trust or honor.
- Practice as an attorney.
- Receive SNAP (food stamps) federal assistance (until the required alcohol and drug treatment program is complete).
How Else May A Felony Conviction Ruin My Life?
If you are convicted of felony sexual offense in Colorado, you will need to register on the sex offender registry. This registry is made available to the public. The felony sex offense conviction may affect your residence qualifications in some apartment complexes or on your employment.
When you apply for most jobs in the future, you’ll need to answer questions about your criminal background. The potential employers may subject you to a background check. Luckily, there is not a law against hiring people with felony convictions and many Colorado companies offer felons positions.
Typically it depends more on the type of felony as to whether being a felon will prevent you from being hired for a particular job.
If you are not a US citizen a felony conviction may affect your immigration status and lead to deportation.
Getting a government grant or loan can be difficult when you’re a felon. However, it isn’t impossible. There are some scholarships specifically created to aid felons in getting back into education.
What about Voting as a Convicted Felon in Colorado?
You cannot vote in Colorado while serving time in jail or while still on parole. Your right to vote is restored once you finish your sentence and probation.
Is it Possible to have Felony Charges Removed from Your Record?
Yes, if you were charged and arrested for a felony but not convicted, it is possible to get the felony charges removed from your criminal record through a process known as expungement.
Expungement is a process in which the records of an arrest and in some cases a criminal conviction are erased – or “sealed.” The sealing of your record removes the felony from your legal history. Expungement requires a court order.
Expungement can be a way to un-ruin your life after a felony charge.
Expungement happens in state courts and not all felony charges can be expunged in Colorado. Talk to a Colorado Springs criminal lawyer about whether or not you can seal your criminal record through expungement.
A Strong Legal Defense is the Best Way to Prevent a Felony from Ruining Your Life
So, in summary, the answer to the original question of “can a single felony ruin my life?” is “it depends.” It depends on the types of charges you are facing, it depends on the classification of the felony charges and it depends on what you value in life.
The best way to protect your future from becoming ruined by a felony is to fight your felony charges with a strong and creative criminal legal defense. To fight felony charges, you need the assistance of a Colorado Springs felony lawyer.