What is a “Wobbler” in Colorado Drug Law?

In 2013, the Colorado legislature extensively amended the existing offenses and penalties relating to marijuana offenses and drug offenses in general. New to the revisions to the criminal code comes the “wobbler,” which now allows a person convicted of a drug felony the opportunity to potentially get the conviction changed to a misdemeanor after the successful completion of a probationary sentence. The wobbler doesn’t happen in every felony drug case, and is not available for any offenses before October 31, 2013.

The “Wobbler” provisions of C.R.S. section 18-1.3-103.5 provide that, after an offender successfully completes a probationary sentence, a drug felony conviction will be reduced to a drug misdemeanor conviction for certain offenses. Included among the eligible offenses is possession of twelve or more ounces of marijuana or more than 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate.

Not all defendants qualify, however, for the benefit of a wobbler. Among disqualifying factors are where the defendant is not probation-eligible, where the defendant has a prior deferred judgment or diversion for a felony drug charge, where the defendant took advantage of a prior “wobbler” that was reduced to a misdemeanor, and where the offender has a prior misdemeanor drug conviction that was reduced from a felony charge. This can be a critical benefit for clients facing collateral consequences as a result of a felony conviction on their record.

Another revision to the criminal drug laws is that all offenses previously listed as felonies, misdemeanors or petty offenses, are now designated as “drug felonies,” “drug misdemeanors,” and “drug petty offenses,” with what, in general, amounts to a slightly lesser degree of punishment compared to the punitive scheme applicable to other felonies. This was part of a general overhaul of Colorado’s approach to drug crimes.

Drug Felonies are classified in C.R.S. section 18-1.3-401.5(2)(a) and (b) and apply to offenses committed on or after October 31, 2013.

Class Presumptive Range Aggravated Range Parole Fine
DF1 8*-32 years None 3 yrs $5k to $1 mil
DF2 4-8 years 8-16 years 2 yrs $3k-$750k
DF3 2-4 years 4-6 years 1 year $2k-$500k
DF4 6 months-1 year 1-2 years 1 year $1k-$100k

 

*Note: Unlike the other provisions, a Level 1 Drug Felony requires a mandatory sentence to prison. (at least 8 years). See Section 18-1.3-501(7).