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If you are charged with a crime in Colorado, you may wonder – what’s the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony? 

In the criminal court system, there are three types of criminal charges:

  • Infractions
  • Misdemeanors
  • Felonies 

Related Article: Facing the Failure To Appear In Colorado Criminal Courts

An infraction is a minor offense and is usually related to traffic. Examples include not stopping at a red light or speeding. Penalties for infractions usually include small fines and don’t ever include jail time. 

Both felonies and misdemeanors are more serious offenses that can come with incarceration. Sometimes, a crime’s classification depends on its severity and other factors. 

It’s important to understand the difference between misdemeanors and felonies in Colorado. Also, if you find that you are facing these criminal charges, having an experienced and reputable criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC can help you build a strong defense. 

Felony vs. Misdemeanor Crimes 

Misdemeanor criminal charges in Colorado are considered mid-level crimes. They can carry punishments of up to two years in the county jail and fines of up to $2,500. 

Some common examples of misdemeanor crimes include the following:

  • Petty theft
  • Trespassing
  • Drug possession
  • Vandalism
  • Prostitution
  • Public intoxication
  • Reckless driving
  • Simple assault

The severity of the crime you are charged with determines if you will face jail time. 

Along with potential jail time, the other types of punishments used for misdemeanors include driver’s license suspension, community service, probation, and paying restitution to the victim. 

Even though misdemeanor convictions will go on your permanent criminal record, they will not be there forever. Usually, the offense will be removed from your record after you have completed the sentence. 

Related Article: 5 Questions to Ask Your Denver Criminal Lawyer

Types of Felony Crimes in Colorado 

Being charged with a felony is serious. In fact, it is the most serious type of criminal charge you can face. The punishment felony charges in the state of Colorado include incarceration in state prison, fines reaching up to $150,000, and sometimes, for extremely serious cases, being issued the death penalty. 

Some examples of crimes charged as felonies in Colorado include the following:

  • Arson
  • Robbery
  • Perjury
  • Rape
  • Grand Theft
  • Murder

Felony convictions in Colorado will go on your permanent criminal record and come with other penalties. For example, once you are convicted of a felony, you are considered ineligible to hold public office or serve on a jury. You will lose your right to possess a firearm and be unable to vote in future elections. 

Additionally, many employers will avoid hiring someone with a felony conviction on their record. 

Are DUI Charges Misdemeanors or Felonies in Colorado?

Colorado has clear and strict rules regarding driving under the influence (DUI) charges. Your first three arrests for driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will usually be misdemeanor charges. However, if you cause property damage or a bodily injury, the charges will likely increase to felonies. 

A Colorado law that was passed in 2015 resulted in anyone with three or more DUIs on their record facing felony charges for subsequent DUIs. This law helped to reduce the number of repeat offenders. 

If you are facing DUI charges in Colorado, it’s smart to contact our legal team at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC. We can help you build a solid defense to help you with your criminal case. 

Related Article: Understanding the Criminal Process in Colorado

The “Wobble Statute” for Felony Drug Charges in Colorado

In the state of Colorado, some crimes are classified as both misdemeanors or felonies. These are referred to as “wobblers.” The crime’s circumstances will play a huge role in how they are charged. 

The “Wobbler Statute” is something you should understand if you are facing drug charges in the state. 

If you have been charged with a drug crime, you should know if the crime is considered a “wobbler.” 

Don’t wait to contact an attorney, whether you or someone in your family who is facing Colorado drug charges. Our attorneys will investigate the charges against you and explore the possibility of reducing the charges based on wobbler plea bargaining. 

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The Thin Line Between Colorado Misdemeanors and Felonies 

Sometimes there is a thin line between a felony and a misdemeanor charge. For example, if you threaten to assault someone but don’t do it, you will likely face misdemeanor charges. If you move forward with the threat and assault the person, then it can increase the charges to a felony in Colorado. 

Sometimes, the prosecution can make mistakes and file felony charges even if the offense should be a misdemeanor. This is one of the top reasons you should have the services of an experienced attorney who can find these mistakes and make sure they are fixed immediately. It’s also worth mentioning that a previous conviction of misdemeanor offenses can result in an upgrade to any subsequent crime. 

Related Article: How Character Letters Can Help In Colorado Criminal Cases

Colorado Alternative Sentencing for Misdemeanors and Felonies 

Despite what many people believe, it’s not just minor offenses that are eligible for alternative sentencing. Sometimes, the judge will require a felon to attend anger management classes or drug treatment. If the individual finishes the course and the required counseling, the felony charges may be reduced to just a misdemeanor or even dismissed. 

Any misdemeanor that carries the risk of violence or harm, and repeat offenders are those who usually receive a jail sentence. Jail is usually avoidable with other types of misdemeanors. This situation usually replaces it with home detention, probation, deferred sentencing, special restitution, or community service. 

Sealing Misdemeanor and Felony Records 

A class one misdemeanor can be sealed five years after the sentence is completed. For class two and three misdemeanors, the period is two years. 

While this is true, any misdemeanor conviction for the following cannot be sealed:

  • Traffic misdemeanors
  • Domestic violence crimes
  • Crimes of violence

The felonies that cannot be sealed in Colorado include the following:

  • Leven one drug felonies
  • Domestic violence
  • Class one felonies
  • DUIs
  • Class two felonies 
  • Class three felonies
  • Sexual offenses

If you have a felony charge dismissed, it can be sealed immediately. All the other felony convictions (besides a level two drug felony) can be sealed after two years. A level two drug offense offender must wait for five years before their record can be sealed in Colorado. 

Related Article: How A Criminal Background Check Affects You In Colorado

Call Our Legal Team for Help and Information 

If you are facing misdemeanor or felony charges in Colorado, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC. We can review the charges you are facing and help you build a viable defense. 

We will also determine if your criminal charges may be reduced or dismissed. The earlier you call, the sooner we can get involved with your case and help ensure you have the best defense possible for your case. Our goal is to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome for their cases and provide help and guidance at each step of the legal process. 

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