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Not a felony, but a municipal crime charge can sting

| Sep 25, 2020 | Criminal Defense

What’s the big deal?

That is the question that legions of Colorado residents might logically pose to themselves in the wake of being cited for a so-called “municipal” crime.

Here’s why: Such an infraction sits in stark contrast to a felony charge, which links to alleged criminal behavior that is unquestionably serious and can yield truly dire outcomes. Select felony offenses – like murder, robbery or rape – that yield convictions can easily result in decades-long prison terms and other life-upending consequences.

A state resident targeted by law enforcers for an alleged violation of a municipal law need hardly worry about spending a lifetime behind bars or anything else so draconian.

Other potentially life-altering outcomes certainly loom large, though, and they are frequently underestimated by those deemed to have committed municipal crimes.

Understanding municipal crime offenses in Colorado

Many people immediately view municipal crime and charged wrongdoing in terms of what it is not, namely (and as noted above), the realm of aggravated offenses linked with notably outsized penalties.

Given that mindset, it is common for offenders of municipal offenses to downplay the “what could happen here” aspects of municipal crime. One in-depth online legal source discussing the subject matter notes that individuals often “exhale in relief when they realize they are charged with only a traffic charge.”

Relief might be an understandable emotion, but prudence and an understanding of how law plays out is also important in the context of municipal crime.

Here’s why: Failure to deal in a timely and responsive way with even a seemingly minor charge can work a major disruption down the road. Here are some outcomes that are realized in the wake of a municipal crime charge that is not satisfactorily dealt with:

  • Job opportunities marred by a criminal record
  • Suspension or revocation of driving privileges
  • Fines and linked costs that can become prohibitively high
  • Jail time

A key point not well appreciated by many charged individuals is that not all municipal infractions are routinely minor. Most municipal crime charges are misdemeanors that, while often featuring relatively low-end consequences, can also sting in a major way. The above-cited legal piece duly stresses that misdemeanor charges “can have severe, long-term consequences.”

What type of wrongdoing does municipal crime include?

A representative list of municipal crimes is both lengthy and varied. It centrally includes entrants like these:

  • Traffic violations
  • Broad-based property crimes
  • Juvenile-linked crimes like underage drinking and driving
  • Theft offenses like shoplifting and check forgery
  • Disorderly conduct and public nuisance
  • Violent crime (e.g., assault and domestic violence)

Failure to respond promptly and effectively to such charges can bring snowball effects capable of disrupting life in a material and permanent way.

The bottom line is that any criminal charge is a serious matter. “Crimes are crimes,” underscores the aforementioned legal article, “and criminal records cannot be erased.”

That reality spotlights why taking a proactive stance in the wake of alleged wrongdoing is routinely a good idea for any criminally charged Colorado resident.


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