Misdemeanor vs. Felony in Colorado – A Criminal Attorney Explains the Key Differences

Jan 14, 2019 | Felony Defense, Misdemeanor Defense

Many people ask me what is the difference between a felony vs misdemeanor in Colorado?  In this post, I will explain the key differences that define these types of crimes.

In the Colorado criminal courts, there are three categories of criminal charges: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies.

Infractions are minor offenses that are often traffic-related, such as speeding or failing to stop at a red light.  The penalty for an infraction is usually a small fine and will never include jail time.

Both misdemeanors and felonies are bigger offenses that could be punishable by incarceration. There are times that the classification of the crime will depend on its severity and other outside factors.

Understanding the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is important for anyone in Colorado Springs who might be faced with either type of offense.

Felony vs. Misdemeanor Crimes in Colorado

A misdemeanor criminal charge in Colorado is a mid-level crime that can be punishable by up to two years in county jail and a fine of up to $2,500.

Some examples of misdemeanor crimes include:

  • Trespassing
  • Vandalism
  • Petty theft
  • Public intoxication
  • Simple assault
  • Reckless driving
  • Prostitution
  • Drug possession

Depending on the severity of the crime, a sentence for a misdemeanor will not always include jail time.

Besides a jail sentence, the other forms of criminal punishment for a misdemeanor may include probation, suspension of a driver’s license, community service, and restitution to the victim.

While a misdemeanor conviction will go on your permanent record, it won’t stay there forever. Many times the offense will be wiped from the record after the sentence is served.

What are the Felony Crimes in Colorado?

A felony is the most serious classification of criminal crimes. Punishment for a felony in Colorado includes incarceration in state prison, fines up to $150,000, and, in the most serious of cases, the death penalty.

Some examples of felony crimes include:

  • Robbery
  • Rape
  • Murder
  • Arson
  • Grand theft
  • Perjury

A felony conviction in Colorado also goes on your permanent criminal record and carries other consequences such as ineligibility for public office or jury duty, inability to possess firearms, and loss of voting rights.

Many employers shy away from hiring anyone with a felony conviction.

Is a DUI a Felony or a Misdemeanor in Colorado?

In Colorado, the first three arrests for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs is generally charged as a misdemeanor crime. However, if the driver causes bodily injury or property damage even these early DUIs may be treated as a felony charge.

A new Colorado law enacted in 2015 established a trend of giving a felony charge to anyone arrested for DUI who already has three or more DUI convictions on their criminal record. The goal rightfully so is to slow down the repeat offenders.

It is possible to get a felony DUI charge lowered to a misdemeanor in Colorado.  Anyone facing this situation absolutely needs to speak with the best Colorado Springs DUI attorney they can find.

The Colorado “Wobbler Statute” and Felony Drug Charges

In Colorado certain crimes can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony; these are called wobblers. The surrounding circumstances of the crime will play heavily in the final classification.

The “Wobbler Statute” as it applies to drug crimes has been in the news in Colorado.

If you are facing a drug crime charge in Colorado it is important to know whether or not the particular drug crime you are charged with is classified as a wobbler.

If you or someone you know is facing a felony drug charge in Colorado, the parties facing the felony charges need to speak with a criminal drug defense attorney to explore reducing the charge to a wobbler via plea bargaining.

Speak to a Colorado Springs Criminal Law Attorney

If you are facing a misdemeanor or felony charge in Colorado Springs or the El Paso County courts, the best thing you can do is speak with Colorado Springs criminal law attorney.