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Denver, Colorado 80204

Colorado Presumptive Penalties for Felonies (Sentencing Guidelines)

The sentencing scheme under the Colorado sentencing guidelines, which dictates the presumptive range established for all classified felony offenses within the state, is generally governed by Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS) § 18-1.3-401, et seq.  The specific statutes controlling what sentence a person receives is ultimately very case specific, so discussing your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney is imperative.  There are many exceptions (both good and bad) relating to a person’s felony sentence.  I will cover the basics here.

Generally, a conviction for a felony offense in Colorado is controlled by the level of the felony offense.  The following is the basic sentencing range for each level of felony offense.


A few notes to keep in mind when reviewing the presumptive sentence guidelines:

  • A felony is abbreviated as “F” under the presumptive range guideline.
  • The class (or level) of felony is denoted by a number between one and six:  Class One (1) is the most serious offense (e.g., first degree murder);  Class Six (6) is the least serious offense (e.g., some drug possession under a gram).

Additionally, when convicted for a felony offense in Colorado, either imprisonment or a fine (or both) may be imposed.  Thus, someone would face imprisonment and/or a fine.  The actual length of prison sentence (if any) in influenced by such things are whether a mandatory sentence is required, whether the crime is an “extraordinary risk” crime, whether there are exceptional circumstances, whether there are aggravating and/or mitigating circumstances, whether the offense is a statutorily defined “crime of violence” (or other offense requiring specific sentencing), and whether or not the person convicted has prior criminal convictions on her or his criminal record; also the specific type of the prior criminal conviction can have a severe influence on the sentencing guideline.  They are also a number of other less-common circumstances and laws effecting a person’s sentence, so once again having an experienced criminal defense attorney analyze your specific case is extremely important.

Moreover, when the only punishment imposed is “imprisonment,” there may be exceptions to a person actually having to go to prison.  Some of these exceptions (or alternatives) include the following:  supervised probation (including intensive supervised probation (ISP) or sex offender intensive supervised probation (SOISP)), other kinds of supervised release, unsupervised (or court supervised) probation, community corrections (“comcor”), deferred prosecutions or deferred sentences, suspended sentences, jail sentences, etc.

Finally, the sentencing guideline ranges apply to crimes committed on or after July 1, 1993, per CRS § 18-1.3-401(1)(a)(V).

Presumptive Range (yrs):
LIFE in prison to DEATH by Government Execution

Mandatory Parole (yrs):

  • NOTE:  In Colorado, a sentence to life in prison means life WITHOUT the possibility of parole (LWOP)

Presumptive Range: 8 yrs – 24 yrs                
Exceptional Circ.: 4 yrs – 48 yrs

Mandatory Parole: 5 yrs
Fine (USD): $5,000 – $1,000,000

Presumptive Range:  4 yrs – 12 yrs                
Exceptional Circ.:  2 yrs – 24 yrs

Extraordinary Risk Crime: 4 yrs – 16 yrs                
Exceptional Circ.:  2 yrs – 32 yrs

Mandatory Parole: 5 yrs
Fine (USD):  $3,000 – $750,000

Presumptive Range:  2 yrs – 6yrs
Exceptional Circ.:  1 yrs – 12 yrs

Extraordinary Risk Crime:  2 yrs – 8 yrs
Exceptional Circ.: 1 yrs – 16 yrs

Mandatory Parole:  3 yrs
Fine (USD):  $2,000 – $500,000

Presumptive Range:  1 yr – 3 yrs
Exceptional Circ.:  6mo – 6 yrs

Extraordinary Risk Crime:  1 yr – 4 yrs
Exceptional Circ.:  6 mo – 8 yrs

Mandatory Parole:  2 yrs
Fine (USD):  $1,000 – $100,000

Presumptive Range:  1 yr – 18 mo
Exceptional Circ.:  6 mo – 3 yrs

Extraordinary Risk Crime:  1 yr – 2 yrs
Exceptional Circ.:  6 mo – 4 yrs

Mandatory Parole:  1 yr
Fine (USD):  $1,000 – $100,000

Crimes presenting an “extraordinary risk” of harm to society include the following:

  1. Aggravated Robbery, CRS § 18-4-302
  2. Child Abuse, CRS § 18-6-401
  3. Unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, sale, or possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell, distribute, manufacture, or dispense, CRS § 18-18-405
    (NOTE:  simple possession is excluded)
  4. Sale or distribution of materials to manufacture controlled substances, CRS § 18-18-412.7
  5. Crimes of Violence, CRS § 18-1.3-406
  6. Stalking, CRS § 18-9-111(4)

The attorneys at Masterson Hall, P.C. are experienced in defending their clients of virtually every type of crime in Colorado.  The attorneys have experience fighting for the rights of their clients.  They also have years of experience in jury trials – from low-level offenses all the way up to jury trials for murder in the first degree.

Contact the attorneys at Masterson Hall, P.C. today for NO-OBLIGATION CONSULTATION.
Attorney Direct Phone:  720-445-5505

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

avatar John Murphy May 27, 2011 at 12:51 am

I am trying to find out what my parole is i have two f5 and an f6 that i was sentenced to as concurrent.I am now out on parole and have been told that my mandatory parole is 3 years. Is two years the max parole on a f5. If so the only thing that i can think is going on is that they ran my doc sentence concurrent and then ran my parole consecutive. Which would make my sentence an illegal sentence correct. I have been out for a little over a year and have had no incidents. I’m trying to figure this because i could be released off a parole early. Any feed back would be great. Thanks John

avatar anthony vitello September 19, 2011 at 6:45 pm


My name is MAJOR Anthony Vitello and I am an active duty Army officer stationed at the National Security Agency in Washington, DC. My son, Tyler is living in Colorado with his mom and last Friday was arrested in Douglas County, Colorado on three separate drug-related charges. His mother and grandfather are all living in Highlands Ranch, CO. I need to know what we can do to help my 20 yr old son out in this case. He has been in the Douglas County Jail since last Friday and will have his First Advisement this Wed.

Thanks so much

Tony Vitello
571 275 2170

avatar Don August 13, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Please help me understand what kind of real time my brother in law will be doing. He has signed a plea bargain in adams county today on a f1 for 20-40 years. This is his first felony conviction. Is there a possibility for a medigated sentence in Colorado under these statutes and what can we as a family do to help him receive a medigated sentence. Please help me understand if Colorado does a percentage of their time in doc and does this apply with violent crimes as well.

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