Colorado's New Drug Laws

Starting on October 1, 2013, all Colorado drug laws and their sentencing structures changed. The following overview is a basic outline of some of the drug law changes in Colorado. The good news is that many of the Colorado drug laws and penalties have become less harsh due to this change. However, the laws themselves are even more confusing and it is absolutely the recommendation of Shazam Kianpour & Associates that a person charged with drug possession or distribution should seriously consider hiring a qualified drug defense lawyer to help him or her or his or her loved ones navigate these extremely complex laws.

At Shazam Kianpour & Associates, we are Colorado drug defense lawyers and we have over 20 years of drug defense experience in counties like Adams, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Douglas, Larimer, Gilpin, and even outlying counties like El Paso, Park County, and Summit counties. If you are charged with cocaine possession or distribution of drugs, or have been caught by a Metro Drug Task Force for allegedly setting up a purchase or a sale of drugs like meth, cocaine, marijuana, Ecstasy, or anything else, call us first so we can invoke your rights and begin protecting you. The consultation is free, and the decision to call a Denver-based drug defense law firm may be the one that helped save your life. We are available any day at any time at 303-578-4036!

Colorado's New Felony Drug Penalties and Sentences

These new Colorado drug laws apply to any crime committed on or after Oct. 1, 2013. The new drug felonies in Colorado are categorized as "DF" crimes, which stands for "drug felony". The chart below displays sentences to the "presumptive range" on a DF crime. That means if you are charged with a felony drug crime in Arapahoe, Broomfield, Adams County, Denver, Jefferson County, Douglas, Boulder, or any other county in Colorado, that barring any "aggravators", the below chart is the years in prison (DOC) or Community Corrections (Halfway House) you are looking at getting for a sentence if the judge decides you should be given incarceration instead of probation:

Level

Minimum

Maximum

Mandatory

Parole

Fine

D O S

DF1

8 Years

32 Years

3 Years

$5,000-

$1,000,000

$4,500

Presumptive

Aggravated

DF2

4-8 Years

8-16 Years

2 Years

$3,000-$750,000

$3,000

DF3

2-4 Years

4-6 Years

1 Year

$2,000-$500,000

$2,000

DF4

6 mos. - 1 Year

1-2 Years

1 Year

$1,000-$100,000

$1,500

It is important to note that all sentences to DF1 crimes are guaranteed prison sentences (DOC) and the minimum term is a mandatory prison term and may not be suspended.

All sentences to DF2, DF3 and DF4 must be in the presumptive range shown above unless the court makes findings on the record based on things like:

  • Evidence in the record of the sentencing hearing
  • The presentence report
  • Factors agreed to by the parties

So I am charged with a drug felony in Colorado, but the judge says I am looking at way more prison than the chart above shows. Why is that?

There are certain statutory "midpoint presumptive to max aggravated range" aggravators. In short, this means your drug sentence in Colorado may be significantly harsher if the person charged in Colorado with drug felonies was already:

  • On parole for another felony
  • On probation for another felony
  • In prison, community corrections or on escape status
  • On probation for felony adjudication

In certain situations your Colorado drug felony charges may be aggravated, but they are not as aggravated as they could be. The less harsh version of the above statutory aggravators says that the maximum length of your sentence could be increased, but the minimum length must stay the same. Some of these less harsh aggravators can include the fact that when the defendant was charged with a drug felony in Colorado, he or she was:

  • On bond for felony
  • On bond for felony delinquent act
  • On bond for any offense as a plea when original offense was felony

Colorado Misdemeanor Drug Charges

The law recently changed with regard to Colorado misdemeanor drug charges and their penalties. These laws are in large part very similar to the original misdemeanor drug penalties and have minor modifications done to them by the legislature. Obviously the new Colorado drug misdemeanors are labeled as "DM," which stands for drug misdemeanor.

If you have misdemeanor drug charges in Denver, Boulder, Arapahoe, Douglas or Jefferson County, or any other county in the metro area, call Shazam Kianpour & Associates. We are Denver-based, Colorado drug defense lawyers, and we will take the time to explain the nuances and new updates in the drug laws to you and we will make sure that we fight for your rights every step of the way. Call today at 303-578-4036 to speak to a qualified Denver drug lawyer today and begin your defense with a free consultation of your rights!

Colorado's Misdemeanor Drug Penalties and Sentences

LevelMinimumMaximumFineDOS
DM1

Six Months

18 Months$500-$5,000$1,000
DM2

Zero months

12 Months$50-$750$300

Habitual Criminal Sentencing in Colorado Drug Cases

If you or your loved one is charged with habitual drug trafficking and distribution in Colorado, there are two ways the state can try to put you away in state prison for a lengthy period of time: the large habitual and the small habitual.

  • The large habitual sentence on DF1 shall be 64 years in the Department of Corrections (DOC) plus a term of probable three years on parole.
  • The small habitual on a DF shall be 48 years plus parole.

All other rules remain the same, except that you may not do small habitual on a DF4, and you may only do large habitual on a DF4 possession of Schedule I/II if the quantity of drugs is more than 4 grams or 2 grams of meth, heroin, ketamine, cathinone, or more than 4 milligrams of flunitrazepam.

Does this all look and sound complex and difficult enough to follow? These aren't even half the laws. It goes without saying that if you are charged with habitual drug charges in Colorado, hiring a qualified drug defense lawyer is the most important step you will take. Don't risk spending half of your life in prison without first exploring your options and talking to the right criminal defense lawyers. Call Shazam Kianpour & Associates and we will work tirelessly to fight for your rights and minimize your losses. We are available today for a free consultation at 303-578-4036.

Sealing of Records on Your Colorado Drug Case (Expungement)

New state law says that no longer are district attorneys allowed to require as a condition of your plea bargain that you waive your right to petition to seal the drug case CRS 16-7-301. This new law applies to people charged with drug crimes in all counties, including Denver, Douglas, Boulder, Adams County, Broomfield, Larimer, Arapahoe and Jefferson Counties. Drug felonies in Colorado, drug misdemeanors, and even drug petty offense are all included in the new case sealing format. While that is great news for people charged with drug crimes in Colorado there will still be some requirements that one must pass. The chart below is a simple outline of some of the basic (but not ALL) requirements.

Colorado Drug Case Sealing Time Frames and Initial Requirements

Level of offenseTime frame to petition (later date of final dispo or release from supervision)
DF110 years — District attorney has veto power if objection filed
DF210 years — District attorney has veto power if objection filed
DF310 years — District attorney has veto power if objection filed
DF4

Seven years — District attorney may object — Court may seal if no objection

DM1

Five years — District attorney may object — Court must seal if no objection

DM2

Three years — District attorney may object — Court must seal if no objection

DPO

One year — Sealing is mandatory if criteria met

While there are multiple ways to be charged with a drug felony in Colorado, here is a basic list of typical felonies and how they can be charged and sentenced:

Colorado DF1 Drug Felony Crimes

  • CRS 18-18-405:
    • Distribution/manufacture/possession with intent to distribute/conspiracy to do same with more than 225 grams of Schedule I/II (more than 8 ounces) or more than 112 grams of meth, heroin, ketamine, cathinone (more than 4 ounces) or more than 50 milligrams of flunitrazepam.
    • Distribution of Schedule I/II drugs to a minor and person distributing is more than 2 years older.
  • CRS18-18-406:
    • Distribution of more than 2 1/2 pounds of marijuana, or 1 pound of concentrate to a minor and person distributing is more than 2 years older.
    • Distribution/manufacture/possession with intent to distribute/conspiracy to do same of marijuana (not otherwise allowed by regulatory scheme) more than 50 pounds or 25 pounds of concentrate.

Special Circumstances Mandating DF1 Sentence CRS: 18-18-407(1)

  • If the offense was part of a pattern of manufacturing, sale, dispensing, or distributing, which show special skill or expertise.
  • If the offense was part of a conspiracy to distribute, manufacture, sell drugs and the defendant initiated, organized, planned, financed, directed, etc., part of conspiracy.
  • Importation of more than 14 grams of Schedule I/II or 7 grams of meth, heroin, ketamine, cathinone, or more than 10 milligrams of flunitrazepam.
  • The defendant used, displayed or possessed on his person or within immediate reach, a deadly weapon at the time of the commission of the offense.
  • The defendant or a confederate possessed a firearm and had access in a manner that posed a risk to others or in a vehicle he was occupying at the time of the commission of the offense.
  • A child agent was used to distribute or possess the drugs for sale.
  • Crime is committed as part of a continuing criminal enterprise and the violation is a continuing series of two or more violations on separate occasions undertaken with five or more, occupies a position of supervisor, and obtained a substantial portion of income.
  • Manufacture, distribution, possession with intent within 1,000 feet of a school or public housing

Colorado DF2 Drug Felony Crimes

  • CRS 18-18-405:
    • Distribution/manufacture/possession with intent to distribute/conspiracy to do same more than 1/2 ounce to 1/2 pound of Schedule I/II (more than 14 grams up to 225 grams) or more than 1/4 ounce up to 1/4 pound of meth, heroin, ketamine, or cathinone (more than 7 grams to 112 grams) or more than 10 milligrams up to 50 milligrams of flunitrazepam.
    • Distribution of Schedule III/IV to a minor and person distributing is more than 2 years older.
  • CRS 18-18-406:
    • Distribution of 6 ounces to 2 1/2 pounds of marijuana, or 3 ounces to 1 pound of concentrate to a minor and person distributing is more than 2 years older.
    • Distribution/manufacture/possession with intent to distribute/conspiracy to do same of marijuana (not otherwise allowed by regulatory scheme) 5 to 50 pounds or 2 1/2 to 25 pounds of concentrate.
  • CRS 18-18-406.2: Distribution of synthetic cannabinoids to a minor if person distributing is more than 2 years older.
  • CRS 18-18-412.4: Possession of materials to make methamphetamine.
  • CRS 18-18-412.8: Sale of materials to manufacture controlled substances.

Colorado DF3 Drug Felony Crimes

  • CRS 18-18-405:
    • Distribution/manufacture/possession with intent to distribute/conspiracy to do same less than 1/2 ounce of Schedule I/II (less than 14 grams) or less than 1/4 oz of meth, heroin, ketamine, or cathinone (less than 7 grams) or less than 10 milligrams of flunitrazepam.
    • Distribution/manufacture/possession with intent to distribute/conspiracy to do same of more than 4 grams of a Schedule III/IV.
  • CRS 18-18-406:
    • Distribution of 1 ounce to 6 ounces of marijuana, or 1/2 ounce to 3 ounces of concentrate to a minor and person distributing is more than 2 years older.
    • Processing or manufacturing marijuana or concentrate, or permitting on land owned or controlled by you, not otherwise allowed by regulatory scheme.
    • Distribution/manufacture/possession with intent to distribute/conspiracy to do same of marijuana (not otherwise allowed by regulatory scheme) 12 ounces to 5 pounds or 6 ounces to 2 1/2 pounds of concentrate.
    • Cultivation of more than 30 plants.
  • CRS 18-18-406.1: Distribution of synthetic cannabinoids.
  • CRS 18-18-416: Inducing consumption by fraudulent means
  • 18-18-422: Distribution of imitation controlled substances to minor and person distributing is more than 2 years older
  • CRS 18-18-405:
    • Distribution/manufacture/possession with intent to distribute/conspiracy to do same of 4 grams or less of a Schedule III/IV.
    • Distribution of 4 grams or less of Schedule I/II or 2 grams or less of meth, heroin, ketamine, flunitrazepam if transfer was for purpose of consuming all of the controlled substance at a time substantially contemporaneous with the transfer. (Sharing)
  • CRS 18-18-406:
    • Distribution of more less than 1 ounce, or 1/2 ounce to a minor and person distributing is more than 2 years older.
    • Distribution/manufacture/possession with intent to distribute/conspiracy to do same of marijuana (not otherwise allowed by regulatory scheme) 4 ounces to 12 ounces or 2 ounces to 6 ounces of concentrate.
    • Cultivation of six to 30 plants.
    • Possession of more than 12 ounces of marijuana or 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate
  • CRS 18-18-415: Script fraud (prescription fraud)
  • CRS 18-18-422: Manufacture, sale, possession with intent to distribute imitation controlled substances.

Colorado DM1 Drug Misdemeanor Crimes

  • CRS 18-18-405:
    • Distribution/manufacture/possession with intent to distribute/conspiracy to do same as Schedule V drug.
    • Distribution of less than 4 grams of a Schedule III/IV for no remuneration.
  • CRS 18-18-406:
    • Distribution/manufacture/possession with intent to distribute/conspiracy to do same of marijuana (not otherwise allowed by regulatory scheme) up to 4 ounces or 2 ounces of concentrate.
    • Cultivation of less than six plants
    • Possession of 6-12 ounces of marijuana or less than 3 ounces of marijuana concentrate.
  • CRS 18-18-406.5: Use of marijuana in a detention facility.

Colorado DM2 Drug Misdemeanor Crimes

  • CRS 18-18-406:
    • Possession of 2-6 ounces of marijuana.
    • Use or possession of synthetic Cannabinoids.
  • CRS 18-18-411: Abusing toxic vapors
  • CRS 18-18-412.8: Unlawful retail sale of meth precursors.

Colorado DPO Drug Petty Offense Crimes

  • CRS 18-18-406:
    • Possession of less than 2 ounces of marijuana, not otherwise authorized by law.
    • Open and public display or consumption of marijuana.
    • Transfer of less than 2 ounces of marijuana without remuneration.
  • CRS 18-18-413: Authorized possession of controlled substances (out of pill bottle).
  • CRS 18-18-428: Possession of drug paraphernalia

Other Relevant and Important Changes to the Drug Laws in Colorado

  • Conspiracy to distribute or possess with intent to distribute was added to the subsection permitting aggregation of quantities within a 6-month period, see CRS: 18-18-405.
  • The state may not require that a person waive his or her right to petition to seal as a condition of a plea agreement offered to him or her, see: CRS 16-7-301.
  • Leaving residential treatment program that is in community corrections, but has been ordered by the court as a condition of probation, not as a condition of community corrections is not an escape. This is a seemingly small, but very important distinction as many courts order defendants to community corrections as a condition of probation, and escape is a class 3 felony that carries four to12 years of prison time (to be served consecutively) to the original charge. That's a lot of prison time! See, CRS 18-18-208.
  • Probation may move someone to ISP (intensive supervision probation) on its own accord if it deems that it is appropriate. This is a questionable change that may be challenged by the criminal defense bar and appeals over time, as in essence it seems to circumvent a certain amount of criminal due process. Why? Because this new law claims that probation officer's decision to move you from regular probation to ISP probation does not constitute a re-sentencing and therefore does not need to be reviewed and approved by a judge; however if that is the case, then will it be explained to the defendant before he pleads and is sentenced? If not, it may give rise to grounds to argue that the plea of guilty can be withdrawn under Colorado Criminal Rule of Procedure 35(C). See CRS 18-1.3-208.
  • Preliminary hearings, if defendant is out of custody, are only granted on DF1 and DF2 felony charges (preliminary hearings still not granted on "special circumstances" cases because they are considered sentence enhancers and not original aggravated charges —another questionable law but this one will likely not be overturned unlike the ISP issue above). See CRS 16-5-301.

To Learn More, Contact Shazam Kianpour & Associates, P.C., Today

We hope that the outline and information above can help you get an idea of what new changes have been implemented to Colorado drug laws and procedure in criminal courts. Of course, nothing is an actual substitute for good, sound, common-sense legal representation, and at Shazam Kianpour & Associates, we are qualified Denver drug crime defense lawyers. While the information above may be useful, it is certainly not meant to be legal advice. Do yourself or your loved one a huge favor, and contact our law firm for a free consultation today. It is important for you to realize that you can be sent to prison or serve serious jail time for drug charges in Colorado today. Take your criminal case as seriously as we do and call us for a free consultation today at 303-578-4036!