Felonies + Misdemeanors FAQ

Defense Attorneys for Felonies + Misdemeanors in Eagle + Garfield Counties

Get Answers to Frequently Asked Questions About Felonies + Misdemeanors in Colorado

In Colorado FELONY OFFENSES are more serious than MISDEMEANOR OFFENSES. A felony conviction carries a number of consequences that can significantly impact a person’s life, resulting in things like the inability to possess firearms, the loss of job prospects, etc. In addition, a person convicted of a felony criminal offense in Colorado could be sentenced to serve time in the state prison system (Department of Corrections).

1What is considered a misdemeanor?
Misdemeanor offenses are generally less serious than felony offenses. A person convicted of a misdemeanor offense could face time in a county jail (as opposed to the state prison system for a felony). For the most part, people like employers and apartment managers tend to be less concerned about misdemeanor convictions than they are about felony convictions on a person’s record. A felony record will affect employment, professional licenses and other rights and privileges for the rest of your life.
2What is considered a petty offense or “traffic infraction”?

There is also a category of offenses in Colorado known as petty offenses. Petty offenses are less serious than misdemeanor offenses but can still carry the possibility of jail time in a county jail and fines. In addition, Colorado designates some traffic offenses as “misdemeanor traffic offenses,” under which things like careless driving and reckless driving are classified, and these too can carry possible county jail sentences and fines.

Colorado Municipal Courts (in most cities and towns) have their own ordinances, and a person convicted of violating any of these ordinances could be sentenced to serve jail time and/or to pay fines.

Colorado has ”decriminalized” many minor traffic offenses, including most speeding charges, stop-sign violations, weaving charges, etc., and as a result the most these types of minor traffic offenses can lead to are fines, court costs, and points on your driver’s license.

Even the most minor-seeming offense has the potential for long-term consequences in areas a person may not even think to consider.

3What is an assault?

Assaults and other crimes against persons have varying degrees of severity, often depending on the injury to the victim(s).

There are several levels of assault in Colorado, with the distinction being related to the degree of injury caused, the state of mind of the perpetrator, the status of the victim, and whether a weapon was used. Depending on the exact charges, a prison sentence can be mandatory if a person is convicted of a felony assault. While first-degree assault and second-degree assault are felony-level offenses (meaning incarceration in a state prison is a possible punishment), third-degree assault is generally a misdemeanor, unless committed against an “at-risk” person. When defending against such charges, it is important to determine the actual injuries suffered by the alleged victim. It is also important for the lawyer handling the case to understand all aspects of how the physical confrontation came about. For example, is there a possible claim of “self-defense” to the charge?

Vehicular assault is a type of assault that involves a person driving recklessly or under the influence of alcohol or drugs, resulting in the serious injury of another person. This type of assault is normally charged as a felony offense, even if many would consider it just an accident. It is important that the lawyer you hire closely examine at all the surrounding circumstances to adequately represent you in this type of case. If you are charged with any form of assault or crime against a person, it is essential that you hire a lawyer experienced in defending you against these types of allegations. Your lawyer should be contacted as early as possible and, if at all possible, prior to charges being filed. That way, the witnesses’ memories will be fresh and a proper investigation and analysis of the case can be conducted. Assault on a police officer, fireman or EMT always prompts a massive effort by the prosecution for felony conviction and prison.

4What happens if I’ve been charged with child abuse?

Child abuse charges do not always have to involve actual injury to a child. There are several child abuse categories and the general statute merely calls for these charges to be filed if a person unreasonably places a child in a position that could threaten the child’s life or cause injury to the child’s health “technical child abuse.” Many day-to-day activities of parenting could be seen as meeting this standard, but charges are not normally filed unless the situation is unusual or poses a great risk to the child.

5What happens if I’ve been charged with harassment and stalking?

Harassment takes many different forms in Colorado. A person can be charged for harassing another person if he or she strikes, pushes, kicks, shoves, or touches another person with the intent to annoy, harass, or alarm that person. However, a person can also be charged with harassment for repeatedly calling another person, making an obscene gesture towards another person, etc., if the intent is to annoy, harass, or alarm that person. If the alleged victim is a spouse or significant other, then it will likely have the “Domestic Violence” enhancer.

Harassment can develop into a felony offense if it includes stalking, which normally means repeatedly contacting or following another person, thereby causing that person emotional distress.

6What if I’ve been charged with kidnapping?
Kidnapping is a crime that involves seizing another person and moving that person from one place to another. Sometimes it can involve a demand for money or other stipulations. These facts often lead to serious charges that require sophisticated defense.
7What does it mean if I’ve been charged with menacing?
Menacing is charged when there is an allegation that a person was in fear of imminent and serious bodily injury by another person’s threat or physical action. Menacing is a felony if it involved a real or simulated weapon. In Colorado, almost anything can be considered a weapon depending on how it was used (even a person’s hand can be considered a weapon).
8What if I’ve been charged with robbery and burglary?

Robbery is generally defined as taking anything of value from a person by the use of force, threats, or intimidation. Robbery is a more serious offense when committed against an “at-risk” victim.

Burglary is normally charged when the allegation is that someone took something belonging to another person from their home, or entered their home to commit some other crime. Most charges associated with robbery or burglary are very serious felonies that can result in long prison sentences.