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 the 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 the sale of drugs to minors.
The possible sentences for each level of Colorado drug crimes are 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 bothMandatory 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, affecting your career, finances, and reputation.
Experienced Colorado Springs drug crimes lawyer James Newby 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.