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Criminal Law

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Penalty Questions Answered

I’ve been arrested.  What kind of penalties am I looking at?

When you’ve been arrested, the first thing you think of is what kind of punishment am I facing.  A quick Google search will reveal lots of attorney websites which list all of the possible ranges you face, and quickly urge you to get a lawyer.  Googling penalties is like Googling medical conditions, everything is deadly and usually cancer.  It makes you quickly feel like everything is impossible and you’re screwed.  That is usually not true but you won’t find that on most lawyer’s websites.

At Triple L Law, we believe in telling you everything up front.  We’re brutally honest, whether the news is good or not.  We believe that you do always need a lawyer.  Can you imagine playing a game of football without knowing the rules?  You could be the greatest athlete in the world, but you’d probably lose if you don’t know the rules.  Of course, every case is different, and every charge carries a sentencing range.  Factors that go into a sentencing decision usually involve some combination of severity of the crime, criminal history, potential for rehabilitation, and victim input. 

Every crime has a classification or level.  In Colorado, Felonies range from F1 (the most serious) through F6 (the least serious) and Misdemeanors run M1 (the most serious) through M3 (the least serious).  Petty Offenses and municipal level offenses are generally seen as lower than Misdemeanors.  However, if you look at even misdemeanor level sentences, you will note that some of them involve a year or two in jail, and one can involve up to four years in jail! (Spitting on a police officer – don’t ever ever do it!)

Most crimes involve a possible jail (County jail for Misdemeanors) or prison (for Felonies) sentence, most people don’t actually get jail or prison time.  However, with the help of a good attorney, the vast majority of sentences handed out involve probation.  Although every case is different, below are some general guidelines for situations that you might be facing.  Of course, you really need to consult with an experienced attorney about your individual situation:

First Offenses Misdemeanor: 

Most cases are misdemeanors (in Jefferson County, there are approximately 4 misdemeanor cases for every 1 felony case) and most misdemeanors are either DUIs or Domestic Violence cases.  DUI has its own special sentencing rules.  As a general rule, first time offenders charged with misdemeanors, other than DUI, are usually offered a probation plea.  This means you’re not going to jail.  The key to these cases is avoiding a conviction at all as a conviction, especially for a domestic violence carries all sorts of consequences discussed elsewhere.  This frequently involves trial and that is why you need an experienced trial attorney on your side. 

Misdemeanors Beyond the First Offense: 

The longer your criminal history, the more likely you are to be sentenced to jjail.  However, there are many steps that can be taken to limit that potential, get you a better deal, or fight at trial.  Plenty of second or third misdemeanor offenders are still able to receive probation or some form of work-release.

DUI Offenses: 

DUI offenses depend on the number of priors alcohol related offenses you may have, your Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), and whether anyone was injured.  A DUI is no simple matter and can follow you for the rest of your life.  You may feel that your case is hopeless and you should just plead (especially if you have a high BAC). But this is when hiring a good attorney is crucial. Given that a DUI can never be expunged from your record, you need help to fight your DUI and you need help early.  Waiting as little as only 7 days to hire a lawyer can reduce your options and important evidence can be lost.  Call Triple L Law today!

As long as no one was injured, most first time DUIs result in probation, classes and a suspended license.  Of course, you can fight these and do even better if the case wasn’t handled correctly or you were not, in fact, intoxicated.  The one exception is if your BAC is over .20, then the law requires a mandatory 10 days in the local jail.  Different counties handle this differently (sometimes in home detention or work release can serve as a substitute) and sometimes there are ways to handle this requirement. Probation can range from 1 to 2 years and, in some counties (not typically the counties around Denver), a deferred adjudication may be an option.

A second DUI requires a minimum of 10 days jail (some counties want more) and there are special rules if the previous DUI was within 5 years of the latest charge.  A second DUI will almost guarantee that you get two years of probation in addition to the jail, more community service, classes and a larger fine.  There are also license consequences for any DUI.

 A third DUI requires at least 60 days in jail (some counties ask for substantially more), in addition to much longer probation and treatment options.  Some counties use a program called inmate/outmate treatment that can involve up to a year in jail.

A fourth or subsequent DUI (or a DUI involving injury or death) is a felony offense in the state of Colorado and involves a minimum of 90 days in jail in addition to 4 years or more of probation.  A felony DUI can frequently involve real prison time, especially when someone is injured or killed.  Remember, this includes one of your own passengers being injured or killed.  A felony is no small matter and you need serious representation to defend you at moments like this.


Felonies are serious matters, and the penalties are much more serious than people believe.   Most felony convictions carry the very real threat of prison time.  It is certainly possible to get probation on a lower-level felony (F4, F5, F6), especially if it is a first time offense.  First time offenders can be eligible for a deferred judgment (probation that results in a dismissal), a reduction to a misdemeanor, or even a straight dismissal if there defense is good enough or the mitigating evidence is strong enough.  Very few of these lower-level felonies charges carry mandatory prison time (there are exceptions to this rule for certain sex crimes and some but not all of the Assault in the 2nd Degree subsections).

It is virtually impossible for an individual to represent themselves in a felony level case.   The complexities are just too great and the penalties too severe.  If you are charged with a felony, every minute counts.  Call the experienced attorneys at Triple L Law right away before it’s too late!

Anyone facing a higher level of felony (F3, F2, or F1) is facing serious prison time, much of it mandatory.  You need a defense right now and cannot afford to delay!  If you are facing a felony sex crime, you are facing an indeterminate sentence, which means prison for the rest of your life.   Call now!

Every case is different, and every situation is different.  These are general guidelines for what typically happens in certain types of cases. But, there are always exceptions and everything depends on how strong the case is against you and what kind of defense you can raise.  No matter how big or small your case is, you need help and you need it fast. Triple L Law has attorneys who do this day in and day out.  We live for trial and are not afraid to take on anyone!  Call us today to find out what you’re facing and what you can do about it!

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