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Castle Rock Criminal Defense Attorneys

Sentencing in Colorado

Sentencing is when the judge decides what penalty the defendant will face after a conviction for a criminal offense. The sentence the defendant receives will depend on several factors. The first step is to know what level of criminal offense the defendant is facing. The level of offense will tell you what the sentencing “range” is. Knowing this is only the first step. An experienced criminal lawyer will help you to assess whether the facts of your particular case are likely you to lead to a sentence that is more harsh or more lenient than average. Your attorney may also be familiar with the local courts where you are facing a charge, and have a sense of how harsh or lenient your particular judge is likely to be.

1) Determine Your Offense Level

Crimes are charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. Felonies and misdemeanors are also subdivided into classes. For example, murder is the most serious class of felony. It is a class one felony, also referred to as an “F1.” Menacing is a less serious felony. It is a class five felony (F5). The least serious felony is a class six felony. Misdemeanors run from class one (most serious) to class three (least serious). The charging document in your case will indicate what class of offense you are charged with. If your charging document indicated that your charge is an “F5,” this means you are charged with a fifth-degree felony.

2) Determine the Presumptive Range

The presumptive range establishes the upper and lower limits the judge must use to decide how many months or years of prison the defendant receives. For example, the presumptive range for the F5 is 1 to 3 years in the Department of Corrections. This means the judge must sentence to defendant to at least one year, but not more than three years in prison upon a conviction for a class five felony. If the defendant is eligible for probation, the judge does not have to impose any jail or prison. If there is extraordinary aggravation in the case, the judge can raise the sentence to double the maximum, or six years in prison.

3) Is the Case Aggravated or Mitigated?

Are the facts of the case worse than average or not as bad as average? If the facts are worse than average, it is an “aggravated” case. If the facts are not as bad as other cases, it is a “mitigated” case. Circumstances outside of the facts of the case can also aggravate or mitigate the sentence that the defendant receives. Does the defendant show remorse? Did the defendant do things to address psychological issues or substance abuse issues before sentencing? Does the defendant have prior offenses? If so, are those prior offenses like this one? Does it seem that the defendant will continue to present a risk to others when their case is over, or does it appear that they have learned their lesson and are not likely to reoffend? The judge has wide discretion when deciding a sentence. These are the most common considerations the judge must use to decide the appropriate sentence.


Your Douglas County criminal defense attorney will help you to avoid convictions whenever possible. Your attorney will also help you to avoid punishment, and will try to get you to be sentenced to probation rather than jail or prison. A person with two prior felony convictions must be sentenced to prison, and is not eligible for probation, if they are convicted of a felony for the third time. In a case like this, your attorney will try to reach an agreement whereby the district attorney waives the “Two Felony Rule,” which would allow for a sentence to probation even on a third felony conviction.


A felony is much more serious than a misdemeanor, and is punishable by a sentence to the Colorado Department of Corrections, as well as substantial monetary fines.


A misdemeanor is less serious than a felony offense, and cannot result in a sentence to the Colorado Department of Corrections. A misdemeanor is punishable by a sentence to county jail in the county the offense was committed in, as well as possible fines.

Courtroom Conduct

It is especially important to show respect for the court, and the judicial process generally, when you are facing criminal charges. The way you act when you are in court, including how you dress, has a significant effect on how the judge perceives you. An experienced judge can tell when someone is remorseful, or on the other hand, when someone does not respect the situation or the authority of the court. Presenting yourself in the most respectful way possible is a good idea when you are in court and facing potentially serious consequences.