In Colorado, sentencing guidelines generally dictate the penalty imposed for a criminal felony conviction. These guidelines are known as “presumptive sentence guidelines.” This means that a court will presume that commission of a crime should be punished by fine and/or imprisonment as determined by statute. In other words, a judge will not be able to impose a harsher or lesser sentence than what has been prescribed by law unless certain exceptional factors exist in the circumstances of the criminal conviction. These factors can include:
- Whether or not a mandatory sentence exists;
- Prior criminal convictions, and what type of convictions (if any);
- Whether or not the crime was committed against an “at-risk” victim;
- Aggravating or mitigating circumstances; and
- Whether or not the crime committed qualifies as an “extraordinary risk crime”.
These are not the only factors that can influence criminal sentencing, and a criminal defense attorney can help you understand what laws or circumstances may affect your sentencing if you are convicted.
What are the Presumptive Penalties?
In order to see what presumptive sentence may apply to you, you must first establish what class of felony you have been charged with. Once you have determined what class of felony you have been charged with, you can review the presumptive sentence guidelines. The Boulder County Bar Association has a helpful report on sentencing, which can be found here. This report lists the following presumptive sentences:
|Class||Exceptional Minimum||Presumptive Minimum||Presumptive Maximum||Exceptional Maximum|
|2||4 years||8 years, |
|24 years, |
|3||2 years||4 years, |
|12 years, |
|3ER||2 years||4 years, |
|16 years, |
|4||1 year||2 years, |
|6 years, |
|4ER||1 year||2 years, |
|8 years, |
|5||6 months||1 year, |
|3 years, |
|5ER||6 months||1 year, |
|4 years, |
|6||6 months||1 year, |
|18 months, |
|6ER||6 months||1 year, |
|2 years, |
As you can see, most felonies have a range that includes an exceptional minimum or maximum sentence. A judge does have the discretion to look at aggravating or mitigating circumstances involved in the commission of a crime to determine if such exceptional circumstances exist to warrant a harsher or lesser sentence. These circumstances are often very case-specific, and you need to discuss your case in detail with a criminal defense attorney to see if they may apply to you.
Have You Been Charged With a Crime?
If you are facing criminal charges, it is extremely important that you secure a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to help understand the potential penalties you are facing. As you can see from the list above, you could be facing serious fines and prison time. Your future is too important not to enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Building a successful defense requires the type of understanding and attention to detail that Tiftickjian Law Firm can provide for you. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.