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A level 1 drug felony and becoming a habitual offender

In the state of Colorado, a conviction for a level 1 drug felony is a serious matter.

Someone convicted of a level 1 drug felony who has a record of similar convictions risks classification as a habitual offender and years behind bars.

About a level 1 drug felony

Under Colorado law, there are four classes of drug felony charges, of which level 1 is the most serious. It includes manufacturing, dispensing, selling or distributing a controlled substance, or possessing a controlled substance with the intent of engaging in one of those activities. A level 1 drug felony also includes possessing the supplies, equipment or chemicals needed to manufacture a controlled substance.

Presumptive versus aggravated

There are two types of sentencing guidelines: presumptive and aggravated. Presumptive is the common or default guideline and aggravated speaks to factors that increase the charge. For example, the defendant may be on parole or on probation for a different felony. The range of prison time for a presumptive sentencing is from eight to 32 years. Minimum prison time for a drug felony conviction involving aggravated factors is 12 years.

The habitual defender statute

The label of habitual offender applies to someone who has a level 1, 2 or 3 drug felony conviction in addition to a minimum of two separate criminal convictions within the previous 10 years. This applies whether the criminal activities took place in Colorado or in any other state. A habitual offender can expect a prison sentence to be at least three times longer than the presumptive sentence. As an example, the judge could increase a 10-year prison term to 30 years for the defendant under the habitual offender statute. In addition to expanded prison time, the habitual defender will face heavy fines that could be as much as $1 million.

A look ahead

Controlled substances can include marijuana, heroin, cocaine, prescription or “party drugs” and more. Becoming a habitual offender means enormous changes for the future of anyone convicted of a serious drug felony and requires a defense that can produce the most favorable outcome possible for such a case.

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