Denver Misdemeanor Defense Lawyer
Misdemeanor Charges in Colorado Should Not Be Taken Lightly
There are many seemingly innocent actions that can garner a misdemeanor charge, but that doesn’t mean that you should not take such a charge seriously. A first class misdemeanor charge can land you in jail for up to 24 months for extraordinary risk crimes, along with a $5,000.00 fine. It is extremely important to seek the counsel of an aggressive misdemeanor defense lawyer if you are charged with a misdemeanor in Colorado. Even though some might think that a misdemeanor will only bring a fine or little probation time, once it is on your record, any future charge will most definitely be treated more severely.
It is important to have an experienced Denver criminal defense lawyer help you fight these charges so that you can maintain a clean criminal record. Call (720) 548-2990 today.
What You Should Know About Misdemeanors in Colorado
Although Colorado has relaxed some of its criminal laws recently — most notably the legalization of recreational marijuana in January 2014 — it can still be harsh on certain types of offenses, and finding yourself charged with a misdemeanor in Colorado can be an anxiety-inducing experience. It’s important to know about some of the differences between misdemeanor and felony charges under Colorado law, as well as the potential penalties you could face if convicted of a misdemeanor, such as a simple assault charge.
Misdemeanors vs. Felonies Charges
Misdemeanors charges can result from low-level crimes that sometimes result in an arrest and an overnight in jail. However, if you are actually convicted of a misdemeanor, you could face a jail sentence of up to two years and additional fines or fees.
Felonies, on the other hand, are the most severe classification of crime. A felony conviction will usually require the defendant to spend a significant time in federal or state prison. Fines, fees, and even restitution may also be imposed.
The line between misdemeanors and felonies — especially in the assault context — is usually crossed when bodily injury occurs. For example, raising your fist at someone with the intent to create a fear of being hit could be charged as misdemeanor assault, but actually swinging your fist and striking the victim would be charged as a felony.
If you are facing a misdemeanor charge, it is important to retain a qualified Denver criminal defense attorney to ensure your record is kept clean. If convicted of your misdemeanor charge, any subsequent charges can be upgraded because of your previous conviction.
How are misdemeanor offenses categorized?
Within each category of crime are different levels to denote severity — in Colorado, these offenses are ranked highest to lowest, with Class 1 indicating the most serious crimes and Class 3 the most minor.
- Class 1 misdemeanors
This category is restricted to the most serious misdemeanors — those just below felony level. Class 1 misdemeanors can include promoting a pyramid scheme, falsifying will or trust documents, or committing assault by spitting or purposely flinging blood or other bodily fluids on another person. Assault by bodily fluid borders the line between the misdemeanor and felony levels; although it does cross the line into physical contact rather than just the threat of contact, it doesn’t usually cause any actual injury.
- Class 2 misdemeanors
These misdemeanors are treated a bit less severely than Class 1 misdemeanors, but continue to include a wide variety of criminal behavior. You may find yourself charged with a Class 2 misdemeanor if you committed less than $100.00 worth of fire damage to a structure or piece of property, or if you stole money or property valued at more than $300.00 but less than $750.00. Damaging property during the course of an assault — for example, slashing someone’s tire or keying the side of their vehicle — can also be charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor, as long as the total repair cost remains under $500.
- Class 3 misdemeanors
These most minor crimes include things like failing to obey a jury summons, writing a bad check, prostitution or soliciting a prostitute, and disorderly conduct. Owning a “dangerous dog” that attacks another individual or failing to report child abuse can also be charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor. Many text-based assaults, like text messages or emails that threaten physical harm, can be charged as Class 3 misdemeanors.
Criminal Penalties for Misdemeanor Assault
The potential sentence for misdemeanor assault will vary based on the level of the criminal charge and some factors individual to the defendant.
Class 1 misdemeanors will require the defendant to spend anywhere from six to 24 months in jail, and the defendant can also be assessed a fine of anywhere from $500.00 to $5,000.00. For the most serious of all Class 1 misdemeanor assaults, or in situations where the judge fears a pattern of assault will continue, a defendant may be sentenced to up to two years in jail. On the other hand, defendants without a criminal history or who demonstrate remorse may be able to negotiate a plea agreement that allows the rest of a sentence to be served on probation.
Class 2 misdemeanors are usually punished with a jail sentence of between three and 12 months or a fine of $250.00 to $1,000.00. In most cases, a fine or restitution is assessed in lieu of jail time, as these misdemeanors are viewed as quite minor in the grand scheme of things, and jail space is usually deemed better suited for those who are charged with more serious crimes.
Class 3 misdemeanors are the most minor, and are punishable only by three to six months of jail time or a fine of $50.00 to $750.00.
Judges are given the discretion to choose a sentence at either end of the sentencing range, and a specific criminal sentence won’t usually be examined or altered by an appellate court unless it falls outside the recommended guidelines. This makes it crucial to put on a strong case at the outset, with the guidance of an experienced Denver misdemeanor defense lawyer, as doing so could mean the difference between a minimum and maximum jail sentence if you’re convicted.
Don’t delay! Call the Law Office of Kevin Cahill today at (720) 548-2990. We will aggressively fight for your rights and continued freedom, making sure that a misdemeanor charge doesn’t haunt your future.
Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation.