- DUI – Driving While Intoxicated
- DWAI – Driving While Ability Impaired
- DUS – Driving Under Suspension
- Domestic Violence
- Criminal Mischief
- False Report of a Crime
What is a Misdemeanor?
Colorado criminal charges can generally be grouped into three categories:
- Felonies – Most serious charges that can include a life prison sentence.
- Misdemeanors – Penalties may include up to an 18 month jail term in county jail.
- Infractions or Public Offenses – Generally no jail and maximum fines of $100.
Court proceedings are significantly different for each class of criminal charge and may vary from one jurisdiction to the other. Procedures for Public Offenses are usually simple and fast. The procedures for felonies are the most complicated, due to the significant constitutional rights implicated by the possibility of longer-term jail sentences.
So I Got Charged With a Misdemeanor – Now What?
Depending on the nature of the underlying offense, the police officer who charges you may give you a citation and release you or may take you to jail where you’ll be required to post bond for your release. For example, you may just get a citation for a crime of shoplifting but you will be arrested for a misdemeanor involving domestic violence.
Your citation will contain the name of the criminal charge and the statutory reference for the crime you’ve been charged with violating. The citation also may contain a date and time for your court appearance.
Your initial court appearance may be called a “Plea and Setting.” In the event you’re lucky enough not to be taken to jail and are instead issued a citation, don’t be fooled into thinking the plea and setting is not a serious matter. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor, you’ve been charged with a serious crime and if you don’t take it seriously, you could face significant consequences.
What Happens at the Plea and Setting?
The Plea and Setting is your first court appearance. You will be in a large courtroom with lots of other people. The judge or the judge’s clerk will call your name, and you will walk up to the front of the courtroom. The judge will read to you each one of the charges against you and ask how you plead. You can plead “guilty,” “not guilty” or “no contest.”
In some instances, you may have the chance to discuss your case with the prosecution prior to being asked by the judge to enter your plea. In some instances, the prosecution might offer you the opportunity to participate in a diversion program or a deferred judgment, or might otherwise offer you a plea agreement.
It’s important that, if you have the money to hire private legal counsel, you do it before you appear for your plea and setting. Often times, a lawyer may be able to head off the entire case at this point, before you ever even have to enter a plea.
What Are The Penalties For a Misdemeanor?
Colorado misdemeanor charges are divided into three classifications: Class 1, Class 2 and Class 3. Class 1 misdemeanors are the most serious. Class 3 misdemeanors are the least serious. The maximum penalties are:
- Class 1 misdemeanor: up to $5,000.00 fine and 18 months in jail;
- Class 2 misdemeanor: up to $1,000.00 fine and 12 months in jail;
- Class 3 misdemeanor: up to $750.00 fine and 6 month in jail.
Will I Go To jail?
Sometimes. The penalties set out above are only the maximum penalties under Colorado law. Retaining good criminal defense legal counsel may mean all the difference in your case when it comes time for sentencing.