Sentencing in Colorado Criminal Cases
Assistance from a Skilled Fort Collins Criminal Defense Lawyer
Sentencing in a Colorado criminal case will depend on many factors. The first step is to determine what level of crime you are charged with. This will help you to determine your “exposure,” (how serious a sentence you may be exposed to). The sentence guide is not a substitute for the opinion of an experienced Fort Collins criminal defense attorney, however, it may be used to give you a general idea of the possible sentence you could receive.
Please call the Law Office of Kevin R. Churchill at (970) 238-2982 to discuss the unique circumstances of your case.
Determine Your Offense Level
As you probably already know, crimes are either charged as Felonies or misdemeanors. What you may not realize is that both felonies and misdemeanors are divided into classes. For example, a class one felony is the most serious (example: first-degree murder). A class six felony is the least serious felony. Misdemeanors are graded from class one down to class three. Often you'll see this on the charging document given to you at your advisement. Beside the name of the charge you may see "F4." This means that you are charged with a fourth degree felony. All felonies subject you to a possible prison sentence.
Generally, a person convicted of a felony in Colorado may be sentenced within the "presumptive range" of that felony. However, other factors may "aggravate" or "mitigate" the sentence. For example, if the facts that amount to an offense are not that terrible in the eyes of the judge, and you have no prior offenses, this may mitigate your sentence. On the other hand, if you are on bond, or on probation for another offense, this will aggravate your sentence... and so on.
What Aggravating or Mitigating Factors Are Present?
The judge has a lot of discretion when issuing your sentence. He or she will consider many factors, such as your prior criminal history, the victim's comments at sentencing, the facts of the crime, whether you show remorse, whether you are a future risk, and many other factors.
Aside from avoiding convictions, your criminal defense attorney will help you to minimize or avoid punishment as well. Several rules determine whether you are eligible for probation. For example, someone with two prior felony convictions may face mandatory prison if they plead guilty or are convicted of the charge. In a case like that, it may be necessary to negotiate a resolution in which the District Attorney agrees to waive the “Two Felony Rule.”
What You Can Do Now
At the outset of your defense case, Mr. Churchill will want to talk with you about things that you can be doing to minimize any sentence that you will face in the event you must take a conviction. In cases where alcohol or drugs were involved, this may mean getting enrolled in a treatment program, and possibly even monitored sobriety. In some cases, monitored sobriety will be ordered as part of your pretrial supervision. However, in cases where that is not a court-ordered requirement, you can gain respect from the judge in your case by being able to demonstrate both that you have been sober – and also that you took the initiative to do such monitoring on your own.
You should also be developing “mitigation,” which means any information that shows that you are a good member of the community. This may include volunteer work, or other community involvement, such as with the church, youth sports, or even your own child’s education. Please gather written evidence of these things when possible. You may also want to include academic achievements, professional achievements, and any other facts that paint you in a good light. Letters of recommendation, or supporting your character generally, can be helpful as well.
For a clearer understanding of what your options are, contact a Fort Collins criminal defense lawyer today.