You may have heard that it’s the prosecutor who decides what criminal charges to file against a person who commits a crime. Those charges can depend on what happened, and what evidence the police can gather to back it up. Find out the most common criminal charges in Colorado and what to if you are facing them.
Every year, the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice tracks the criminal charges filed within the state. They track these statistics according to several categories and now, as of 2018, by whether the charges were a hate crime motivated by bias against the victim. Overall, criminal charges in Colorado have been on the rise since 2012, and have been at a higher rate than the national average since 2015. Find out the most common charge in each category and what the penalties are for each crime.
Most Common Hate Crime: Intimidation
Hate crimes cover any crime motivated by hate, bigotry, or bias against the victim. They may be targeted due to their race, sex, sexual orientation, or religion. Common hate crime charges include assault, vandalism, or kidnapping, but according to the report, 41% of hate crimes are intimidation.
Colorado’s intimidation law includes bias-motivated intimidation or harassment through bodily injury, threats, or property destruction. If you are charged based on threats or property damage, you will face a class 1 misdemeanor with a penalty of 6 – 18 months in jail and a fine of $500 to $5,000. If the intimidation includes bodily injury, the charges will be a class 5 felony with a penalty of 1 – 3 years in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000, or a class 4 felony with a penalty of 2 – 6 years in prison and a fine of $2,000 – $500,000. The difference is whether the prosecutors believe you acted alone or with help.
Most Common Drug Crime: Possession
The Colorado criminal courts are full of DUI and drug charges. Drunk and drugged driving charges create lasting problems for Colorado residents, putting their freedom and their driver’s licenses at risk. According to the report, more than three quarters (76.9%) of all drug charges are for possessing or concealing controlled substances. Another 12.4% are for use. Only just over 10% of charges are for more serious crimes like manufacturing or selling controlled substances.
As of 2019, nearly all simple drug possession charges are now Class 1 or Class 2 misdemeanors. Possession of more serious, Schedule I or II controlled substances or more than 6 ounces of marijuana (3 ounces of marijuana concentrate) has a maximum penalty of 180 days in jail, 2 years of probation, and a $1,000 fine. Possession of less serious drugs that fall on Schedules III, IV, and V, toxic vapors and smaller quantities of marijuana can result in penalties of up to 120 days in jail, 1 year probation, and a $500 fine.
Most Common Violent Crime Charges
The state’s crime report created a category of violent crime offenses that include:
- Non-consensual sex offenses (rape)
- Aggravated Assault
Within that category, aggravated assault was the most common criminal charge with nearly 14,500 offenses. This offense includes attacking or threatening a victim with a weapon or involving a severe or aggravated bodily injury. It can also apply in cases of assault with a disease.
Assault can be charged in three degrees, depending on what happened and what injuries the victim is said to have suffered. First and second degree charges are considered “aggravated assault”, and are felonies under state law. Generally speaking, second degree aggravated assault involves intentionally causing serious bodily injury or assault against a police officer certain other city employees. It is a Class 4 felony with a penalty of 2 to 6 years in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000. First degree aggravated assault is the most serious. It is a Class 3 felony, with a penalty of 4 to 12 years in prison and a fine of $3,000 to $750,000. However, there are many variables to assault charges that can adjust the penalties you end up facing.
Most Common Theft or Property Crimes
Theft offenses account for most of the crimes “against property” charged in Colorado. Within the state report, that category includes:
- Larceny (taking of another person’s property)
- Robbery (taking through force or the threat of force)
- Burglary (breaking into a building intending to commit a felony or theft)
- Fraud (intentional lying or misstating the truth to convince a person to give something up)
- Motor vehicle theft (taking a car or truck)
Because larceny includes all thefts that don’t fit into another category, it was the most common property crime in the report, with over 112,500 cases in 2018 alone. Over ? of the victims of larceny were individuals, but over ? happened in stores and other commercial buildings.
Unlike the other criminal charges in the list, larceny is actually a category of crimes. The penalty for larceny charges depends on the value of the items taken. It can range from petty theft, with a penalty of 6 months in jail and a $500 fine, to a Class 2 felony with a penalty of up to 24 years in prison and a $1 million fine.
Whether you are facing one of the most common criminal charges, or a rare case with special circumstances, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to stand with you through the process. Each of these charges have their own defensive strategies and considerations. By talking to a criminal attorney as early as you can in the process so that you have time to consider your options and prepare your defense.
At Aviso Law, LLC, our criminal defense attorneys have experience with all the most common criminal charges in Colorado. We are here to serve you whether you are facing a petty larceny charge or life-changing drug charges. We will help you identify your options, and any defenses you may have, so you can choose the best way forward. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.