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What is meant by presumtive sentencing ranges in Colorado?

There is a significant amount of legalese in a Colorado criminal court. Some people charged with a crime may not quite understand what all the terminology means. This is one reason why it's important to have an experienced attorney by your side to help ensure that your rights are not violated while your case moves through the criminal justice system.

In Colorado, there are presumptive sentencing ranges of prison time for felonies and jail time for misdemeanors. These encompass the shortest and longest prison sentences that may be imposed if someone is convicted of a crime. For example, a Class 2 felony has a presumptive sentencing range of eight to 24 years. However, there are some instances when the presumptive sentencing range may not apply. Here are five special categories that will affect the presumptive sentencing range for felonies:

-- Crimes that present an extraordinary risk to society

-- Crimes that have circumstances that will enhance the sentencing

-- Crimes of violence

-- Crimes with specific extraordinary mitigating or aggravating circumstances

-- Crimes with non-specific mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

Defendants who are labeled habitual or special offenders can have a greater presumptive sentencing range. In addition, Colorado has a "three strikes you're out habitual" sentencing requirement. Any defendant who is convicted three times of a Class 1 or 2 felony or a violent Class 3 felony must be sentenced to life in prison.

As you can see, the sentencing guidelines for felonies can be very confusing. Understanding the possible penalties is one of the first steps in your defense case.

Source: State of Colorado, "Colorado's Adult Sentencing Laws" accessed Feb. 20, 2015

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