Can felony charges be reduced in Colorado?
The answer to the question “Can felony charges be reduced in Colorado?” largely comes down to the experience, skill, and creativity of your Colorado criminal defense attorney. An experienced felony defense lawyer is the one who understands the significance of reducing a felony charge to a misdemeanor.
If you are facing Colorado felony charges, you are looking at some serious and life-changing consequences. You face at least one year behind bars in a Colorado state prison, thousands of dollars in fines, the burden of wearing the label “convicted felon” for years, decades, or the rest of your life. All of these can negatively impact your employment, financial, and other opportunities.
You want to avoid all these outcomes, ideally by a dismissal of the felony charges. But if Colorado Springs prosecutors won’t drop the charges against you, can felony charges be reduced to lesser offenses?
The best Colorado Springs felony lawyers, especially those who used to be prosecutors themselves also know why and how prosecutors make the decisions about which charges to pursue. They know the Colorado Springs and El Paso County courts, judges, and prosecutors as well.
Using these insights, they can challenge those decisions and either convince prosecutors to reduce felony charges or enter into a plea agreement for a misdemeanor conviction.
Misdemeanors vs. Felonies in Colorado
While there is no such thing as a “minor” criminal offense, there is a significant difference between misdemeanors and felonies in Colorado. If the police arrest you for an alleged crime, you want prosecutors to charge you with a misdemeanor charge instead of a felony charge. Here’s why.
Like most states, Colorado divides crimes into two broad categories: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are generally less severe crimes.
The most fundamental difference between Colorado misdemeanors and felonies is the possible length of time you could spend behind bars and where you would spend that time upon conviction.
A misdemeanor conviction can result in a maximum of 18 months of incarceration, but usually much less than that, which you would serve in a county or local jail right here in El Paso County.
Felony Charges Come with Severe Punishment
But if the Colorado prosecutors charge you and convict you of a felony and incarceration is part of your sentence, you will likely spend at least a year behind bars. For some felonies, you could spend well over a decade locked up in one of Colorado’s 24 state prisons located all over the state, hundreds of miles away from your home and family.
Not only that, but long after you serve your time in prison, and even if you received no prison time at all, you would still pay a heavy price for a felony conviction.
As a convicted felon, you can lose your:
- Right to carry firearms
- Right to vote
- Freedom to travel abroad
- Eligibility for certain government benefits, loans, or grants
- Some of your rights as a parent
- Right to serve on a jury.
How Can Felony Charges Be Reduced?
Prosecutors make the decision on what charges to file, which means they can also make the decision not to pursue a conviction or seek to convict the accused of a less serious crime.
While our local Colorado Springs prosecutors have a great deal of discretion in making some charging decisions, they will never reduce felony charges like rape or murder to a misdemeanor charge. But prosecutors can reduce plenty of other felony charges in the right circumstances – and when they face the right defense attorney.
Some Colorado charges like criminal assault, for example, could be either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the nature and severity of the assault. If prosecutors feel that they have a rock-solid case for 3rd-degree assault (a class 1 misdemeanor), but a much tougher case to prove to get a conviction for 2nd-degree assault (a class 4 felony), they may choose to pursue the lesser offense.
That decision may come because the criminal defense attorney for the accused exposes weaknesses and problems with the prosecution’s evidence, testimony, or arguments. Other times, the defense lawyer may engage in plea negotiations with prosecutors in which the accused agrees to plead guilty to a misdemeanor in exchange for a dismissal of the felony charge.
In certain drug cases, a felony can become a misdemeanor after conviction. Under C.R.S. 18-13-103.5, a judge can reduce certain felony drug convictions to misdemeanor convictions after successful completion of a community-based sentence like drug treatment or rehabilitation.
So, can felony charges be reduced in Colorado Springs? The answer is “not always.” But in plenty of cases, there are opportunities to avoid such charges and the harsh consequences that come with a felony conviction.
The talent, experience, and determination of your felony defense attorney can be the key to seizing such opportunities.
Free Consultation with a Felony Defense Attorney
If you are facing a felony charge in Colorado Springs or the El Paso County courts, the best way to figure out a strategy for reducing your felony charges is to speak with an experienced Colorado Springs criminal law attorney.
Attorney James Newby is one of the most respected felony defense attorneys in Colorado Springs. He can be reached quickly by completing our free consultation with a criminal defense attorney form. Alternatively, you can call his Colorado Springs downtown office to schedule your free consultation.
Call (719) 578-3322