Drug Charges for First Time Offenders

If you've been accused of a crime, you need an expert to help you. Call Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney James Newby today at (719) 578-3322.

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a drug offense in Colorado Springs, it can be a frightening experience; even more so if it’s your first time experiencing our state’s criminal justice system. First-time drug offenders can face serious consequences, including significant jail time for crimes involving large amounts of illegal drugs, sale and distribution of drugs, or if the crime involved any number of “aggravating circumstances.”

After sweeping changes were made to Colorado’s drug laws in 2013, Colorado law now breaks drug-related offenses down into two general categories: Drug Misdemeanors (DM) and Drug Felonies (DF). Each category is further divided into “levels”: Drug Misdemeanors have two levels, DM1 and DM2, while Drug Felonies have four levels, DF1, DF2, DF3, and DF4.

These categories and levels are important because they dictate minimum and maximum penalties or sentences that the judges apply depending on the facts of your case. For example, a person convicted of a DF2 faces 4 to 8 years of imprisonment, a fine of $3,000.00 to $750,000.00, or both, plus two years of mandatory parole.

In addition to these categories and levels, a judge can “aggravate” your sentence depending on certain factual considerations that may be unique to your situation. Furthermore, “enhanced” penalties can apply for charges such as sale of drugs to minors.

The possible sentences for each level of Colorado drug crimes is as follows:

  • DM1: Minimum: 6 months’ imprisonment, $500 fine, or both
    Maximum: 18 months’ imprisonment, $5,000 fine, or both
  • DM2: Minimum: $50 fine
    Maximum: 12 months’ imprisonment, $5,000 fine, or both
  • DF1: Presumptive: 8 to 32 years’ imprisonment, $5,000 to $1 million fine, or both
    Mandatory Parole: 3 years
  • DF2: Presumptive: 4 to 8 years’ imprisonment, $3,000 to $750,000 fine, or both
    Aggravated: 8 to 16 years’ imprisonment, $3,000 to $750,000 fine, or both
    Mandatory Parole: 2 years
  • DF3: Presumptive: 2 to 4 years’ imprisonment, $2000 to $500,000 fine, or both
    Aggravated: 4 to 6 years’ imprisonment, $2,000 to $500,000 fine, or both
    Mandatory Parole: 1 year
  • DF4: Presumptive: 6 months to 1 year in prison and/or $1,000 to $100,000 fine
    Aggravated: 1 to 2 years’ imprisonment, $1,000 to $100,000 fine, or both
    Mandatory Parole: 1 year

One of the goals of the 2013 reduction in Colorado drug offense sentences was to focus on rehabilitation and treatment for lower-level and first-time drug offenders rather than incarceration. But even if you aren’t sentenced to time behind bars, the consequences of even one drug conviction can stay with you for years and decades, effecting your career, finances, and reputation. An experienced Colorado Springs drug crimes lawyer can work with prosecutors to keep the consequences of a first-time drug charge focused on alternatives to jail or prison or fight the charges altogether.

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