The debate about ending the U.S. cash bail system has been going on for years and will rage for the foreseeable future. If you’re a bondsman in Colorado, we are sure you follow what is happening with cash bail legislation in other states (New York, California, New Jersey), but we would like to take a step back for any potential new clients and review information that could be helpful if someone runs afoul of the law and needs our assistance.
Whether you have committed a crime in Jefferson County, Arapahoe County, Denver County or elsewhere you may need help from a good lawyer and a reliable bail bonds professional. With years of experience, our staff can help you get out of jail on a pre-trial basis. Before calling for cash bail assistance, you should probably make yourself aware of Colorado’s felony crimes by class and sentence.
Like all states, ours divides crimes between felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies are the more serious of the two, punishable by state prison sentences of a year or more. Misdemeanors are generally less serious crimes, with defendants receiving county or local jail terms lasting as long as 18 months. More information is available here.
Most Colorado felonies are designated as Class 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 6. Some in Colorado go unclassified. For unclassified felonies, the sentence is determined in the criminal statute. If no penalty is set, then a felony conviction could bring up to five years in prison and a fine all the way up to $100,000. As in other states, Colorado law gives different penalties related to drug felonies.
Sentencing laws in our state have been amended over time, and the punishments we describe apply to felonies committed on or after July 1, 2018. (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-1.3-401, 18-1.3-402, 18-1.3-403 (2019).)
Crime is a big business. But it is not glamorous in the end.
“The Big Three,” of course, is just something catchy we made up. You will never hear these felonies referred to as such in a court of law, by a judge, or a lawyer – unless you are having a private conversation. Bail bonding professionals are well versed in these kinds of felony details. They are the ones that garner the most attention, like hovering news helicopters and throngs of reporters anxious for a scoop.
Most bondsmen do not see these kinds of felonies walk through their door. Nothing gets more serious than a Class 1 felony in Colorado, with the perpetrator eligible for a sentence including life imprisonment or the death penalty. Steer clear of this one – and all others, by the way. First-degree murder is an example of a class 1 felony. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-401 (2019).)
Class 2 felonies in Colorado could earn you or another defendant eight to 24 years in prison, a fine of $5,000 to $1,000,000, or both. One particularly heinous example includes human trafficking of a minor. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-401 (2019).)
If you have been convicted of a class 3 felony you could be subject to a state prison sentence of four to 12 years, a fine of $3,000 to $750,000, or both. First-degree assault is considered a class 3 felony. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-401 (2019).)
It is very difficult to talk about serious felony charges in short form related to the cash bail controversy, mostly because cash bail statues do not apply or are waived due to extenuating circumstances. What is important to take away from this, however, is that Class 1, 2, and 3 felonies are the most serious crimes anyone could commit, and punishable as such.
The remaining felony classes, 4, 5, and 6, are the “least” serious but can still earn a prison sentence longer than you would be comfortable with. We are not your mother and will not lecture but, again, stay away from actions and crimes which could lead to any of these sentences. You can thank us later.
Class 4 felonies are worth between two to six years’ imprisonment, and between $2,000 and $500,000 in fines, or both. A prominent example is theft of property valued between $20,000 and $100,000. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-401 (2019).)
Colorado’s laws hand down a sentence of up to three years in prison, a $1,000 to $100,000 fine, or both, if you are convicted of a class 5 felony. Forgery falls into this category. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-401 (2019).)
Class 6 may encompass the least serious of felonies in Colorado, but they are still something to worry about. If convicted, you could face between a year to 18 months in prison, a fine of $1,000 to $100,000, or both. Do not even think about impersonating a peace officer because it is a class 6 felony. (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-401 (2019).)
Part of the controversy surrounding cash bail bonding is due to perceived racial and financial inequalities. Opponents insist it discriminates against minorities and the poor, many of whom get hauled off to jail on drug charges.
Drug felony convictions are divided into four levels, with crimes punishable by six months to 32 years in prison and/or fines ranging between $1,000 and $100,000. In any case, a felony drug conviction could ruin your personal life and impede your ability for meaningful employment upon release.