Misdemeanor Criminal Defense Attorney
Misdemeanor Criminal Defense in Colorado Springs
Explained by Local Criminal Defense Attorneys
When you are charged with a crime, it will fall into one of two categories — a misdemeanor or a felony. Congress and state legislature define what constitutes which category a crime falls within. Felonies are more serious crimes that carry more severe punishments, including imprisonment for at least a year to life, in addition to fines. Examples of felonies include arson, rape, and murder. Misdemeanors, on the other hand, are less serious crimes than felonies, but more serious than petty offenses. Misdemeanors carry less severe punishment than felonies that include incarceration for less than 18 months and/ or fines. Misdemeanors are much more likely to result in alternative sentencing such as community service, court-ordered classes or counseling, rehab, or probation. Additionally, some differences include misdemeanors are tried in county court and sentences are carried out in county jail as opposed to felonies which are tried in District Court and hold sentences that are served in a state prison. Common misdemeanors in Colorado Springs include:
- Drug Charges
- Unlawful Possession of Weapons
- Check Fraud
- Driving on a Suspended License
- Removal of Timber From State Lands Without Lawful Authority
- Unlawful Activity on Agricultural Land Marked Private
- Deceptive Use of Ski Facilities
Colorado Misdemeanor Classification
Colorado criminal law divides misdemeanors into three types — regular, drug, and traffic. Additionally, misdemeanors are categorized by severity as class 1 (extraordinary risk), class 1, class 2, class 3, and unclassified. Extraordinary risk are misdemeanors that pose a risk of harm to society — sexual assault, third-degree assault, child abuse — and may incur an additional six-month jail time. It is these types and classes that help determine the presumptive punishment, assuming that there are no aggravating factors.
Regular misdemeanors under Colorado criminal law are those that are non-drug, non-traffic violations with punishments as follows:
|Misdemeanor||Presumptive Sentencing||Presumptive Fines|
|Class 1 (extraordinary risk)||6-24 months||$500-$5,000|
|Class 1||6-18 months||$500-$5,000|
|Class 2||3-12 months||$250-$1,000|
|Class 3||Up to 6 months||$50-$750|
|unclassified||Determined by specific crime/ statute|
However, if an assault was committed while the victim was engaged in their duties as a Peace Officer, Emergency Medical Service or Care Provider, Firefighter, or Mental Health Professional, the penalty is increased to 24-48 months incarceration and/or a fine of $500-$5,000.
Colorado criminal law designates drug misdemeanors differently from other misdemeanors and the sentences are lighter than regular misdemeanors.
|Misdemeanor||Presumptive Sentencing||Presumptive Fines|
Traffic misdemeanors are those that are committed with a vehicle or driver’s license and carry lighter sentences than regular misdemeanors. Colorado traffic misdemeanors include speeding in a school or construction zone, street racing, and driving on a suspended license.
|Misdemeanor||Presumptive Sentencing||Presumptive Fines|
|Class 1||10 day- 12 months||$300-$1,000|
|Class 2||10-90 days||$150-300|
|Unclassified||Determined by specific crime/statute|
While misdemeanors are lesser offenses with lesser sentences, it does not mean that the Colorado criminal courts do not take them seriously. To help you get the best outcome and have the least impact on your future, you should hire a local criminal defense attorney to represent you. Contact us so we can begin building your case today!
How Being Charged With a Misdemeanor in Colorado Can Negatively Impact Your Life
While misdemeanors are lesser offenses with lesser sentences than felonies, it does not mean that they’re not serious implications that come along with misdemeanor charges and conviction. Understanding how the charges and conviction can affect your life will help you decide how you will handle the charges.
Restriction of Civil Liberties
While being convicted of a felony has a bigger effect on gun ownership, being convicted of a misdemeanor that resulted in more than one year imprisonment or a domestic violence crime (regardless of punishment), it is illegal to purchase, own, or possess a firearm or ammunition.
Driver’s License Issuance
Government-issued driver’s licenses are issued as a privilege that comes with conditions. A driver’s license can be suspended or revoked at any time for violating the conditions of its issuance. Many misdemeanor traffic offenses do not warrant automatic suspension or revocation of driver’s license but may result in either if there is a history of similar offenses or the offense was aggravated.
The right to vote is lost while serving a sentence of incarceration and requires re-registration upon release. If you are convicted of a felony, restoration of voting rights is not guaranteed.
Passports may be revoked or denied issuance if convicted of certain misdemeanor drug offenses, especially of a passport was used or international borders were crossed when committing the offense.
For a conviction of certain crimes, community notification may be made a requirement. Most commonly those who are convicted of misdemeanors involving child abuse or tampering with livestock must make their crimes publicly known.
State Tax Returns
State tax returns may not be issued to those who are convicted of a misdemeanor and is incarcerated for more than 180 days during the fiscal year.
Medical Marijuana Registration
A criminal offense pertaining to controlled substances is grounds for revocation and denial of medical marijuana registration cards.
Employment and Professional Licensure
Being charged with a crime can have serious negative consequences on your current employment or ability to gain employment. While some crimes may be overlooked by certain jobs where they are not applicable — for instance driving on a suspended license when you apply to be a line cook — having a conviction on your record speaks to your character. Even minor crimes can restrict your qualifications for a job — reckless speeding when applying for a pizza delivery driver. For professions that require licensure, even minor offenses could restrict you from finding employment in your field and may result in your professional license being revoked — for instance, if you are a peace officer and convicted of third-degree assault or a nurse charged with possession of an illegal substance. As a general rule, if a position requires a government-issued license or certification, involves working with vulnerable populations, or requires a great deal of trust and responsibility, a clean record is the only acceptable record and any tarnish on it will impact your chances of employment.
If you receive public benefits including public housing, food stamps, unemployment, worker’s compensation, federal student loans, Veteran’s benefits, Colorado Works Program/ TANF, medical assistance, or social security, benefits can be negatively impacted by a conviction of a crime. The effect the crime has is determined by the benefit received and what crime you are convicted of. For more information about Colorado public benefits and what affects a criminal conviction has, read here.
While an arrest and conviction may have negative effects on your personal relationships, the bigger concern is the legal impact on your family. If you are going through a divorce or will file for divorce in the future, your criminal record will come into question during litigation. If child custody is in question, a conviction of some crimes can limit or restrict access to your children. If you are a foster parent or legal guardian for other children, these rights may be terminated if you are convicted of violent or sexually-based crimes and if you are looking to become a foster parent or legal guardian for children, any conviction can be a deterrent.
Citizenship and Immigration Factors
Immigration and citizenship or foreign residents in the United States is contingent upon following certain guidelines, including federal, state, and local law. When you are convicted of certain crimes, you may face either deportation or inadmissible. Deportation means that you may be removed from the country. Inadmissibility means that if you leave the United States, you will not be able to return. Many misdemeanors would result in inadmissible unless they are violent in nature, and then they may be grounds for deportation. If you are a legal resident who has not yet obtained citizenship, a conviction of any kind may hinder your chances of being approved. For more information about immigration law, click here.
As you can see, a conviction, even of a misdemeanor can have a significant impact on your life. To help minimize the negative impact, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. The Law Offices of Murphy & Price, LLP has over 20 years experience in defending those who have been accused of a misdemeanor in Colorado Springs. Contact us now so we can begin building your case today!
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Colorado “Wobbler” Drug Felonies
As of October 2013, Colorado drug statutes have been modified to allow for “wobblers” in certain drug crimes. Wobblers are felony drug crimes that, upon successful completion of probation, without re-conviction or violation, may be reduced to a misdemeanor conviction instead. The goal of these wobbler laws is to keep those who are convicted of drug possession out of prison while still combating the drug problem.
What Qualifies for a Wobbler?
In order to qualify for a wobbler, the charges must be drug felony class 4 or more minor (class 5 or class 6). It is possible to be eligible if you are struggling with an addiction. Drug felonies that are eligible include:
- Possession of 12 or more ounces of marijuana
- Possession of more than 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate
- Possession of 4 grams or less of schedule I or II substance
- Possession of 2 grams or less of methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones
- Possession of 4 milligrams or less of flunitrazepam
- Obtaining a controlled substance through fraud or deceit
What Doesn’t Qualify?
Notice that most of the felonies that are eligible for a wobbler defense are possession of personal use amounts of a substance. Felonies that do not qualify for a wobbler include intent to distribute, sale of a substance, manufacturing a substance, and drug trafficking. Other circumstances that would render you ineligible to take advantage of the wobbler law include:
- History of 2 previous misdemeanor drug convictions
- Is not eligible for probation
- History of a conviction of a violent crime
- Have previously taken advantage of a wobbler
How Does a Wobbler Help
A wobbler helps on several fronts. One, it helps the community by addressing the drug issue while also offering help to addicts and keeping minor drug offenders out of jail/prison, which has shown to be effective at helping solve the problem rather than perpetuating it. Two, it helps drug offenders to reduce charges from felonies to misdemeanors, which can help get them on the right track to a productive life without the weight of a felony conviction on their record.
If you are facing felony drug possession charges, consult your criminal defense lawyer to see if you are eligible for a wobbler defense. If you have been charged with drug possession in Colorado Springs, contact the Law Office of Murphy & Price, LLP today!
Active Misdemeanor Criminal Defense
When you are facing criminal charges of any kind, your best results will come from hiring a dedicated, experienced attorney to represent you. At the Law Offices of Murphy & Price, LLP, we have more than 20 years experience defending clients who are accused of all types of misdemeanors, including tourists, immigrants, and military personnel in the area. Call us today for your consultation and let us get started building the criminal defense you deserve.