Changes in Colorado Drug Crimes

On October 1, 2013, Colorado will undergo a major change in the way it classifies its drug crimes. Historically, drug crimes were classified alongside other felony and misdemeanor crimes. With this change, drug crimes in Colorado will carry their own level of drug offense.

Colorado Senate Bill 13-250 breaks drug crimes into two categories. Drug Misdemeanors (DM) and Drug Felonies (DF). Below is a chart of the level of the drug offense and the possible minimum and maximum sentences under each classification.

Drug Misdemeanors (DM)
LevelMinimum SentenceMaximum Sentence
DM16 months imprisonment, $500 fine or both18 months imprisonment, $5,000 fine, or both
DM2$50 fine12 months imprisonment, $750, or both
Drug Felonies (DF)
LevelPresumptive RangeMandatory Parole Period
DF18 to 32 years imprisonment, $5,000 to $1 million fine or both3 years
DF24 to 8 years imprisonment, $3,000 to $750,000 fine or both2 years
DF32 to 4 years imprisonment, $2000 to $500,000 fine or both1 year
DF46 months to 1 year imprisonment, $1,000 to $100,000 fine or both1 year
LevelAggravated RangeMandatory Parole Period
DF28 to 16 years imprisonment, $3,000 to $750,000 fine or both2 years
DF34 to 6 years imprisonment, $2,000 to $500,000 fine or both1 year
DF41 to 2 years imprisonment, $1,000 to $100,000 fine or both1 year

 

Pursuant to Colorado Revised Statutes §18-1.3-401.5, this new classification of drug crime will apply to all offenses committed on or after October 1, 2013.

For any DF1, the court will be obligated to sentence the defendant to at least 8 years in the Department of Corrections.

In certain circumstances, the court can aggravate the sentence if the court concludes there are aggravating circumstances based on the evidence in the record at the time of sentencing, in the presentence report, as well as any additional factors agreed to by the parties which are made as specific findings by the court.

Aggravating Factors Include

Except for DF1, aggravating circumstance gets you at least the midpoint of the presumptive but not more than the maximum term of the aggravated range

  • Case Factor Aggravators
  • Parole
  • On probation for a felony or bond on a felony revocation (or delinquent act that would be a felony if an adult)
  • Under confinement
  • If these exist no need to make special findings

Enhanced Sentencing

Sentence Enhancing circumstances at the time of the commission allows the court to sentence the defendant to a term in the presumptive or aggravated range. For example:

  • On bond for a charged felony
  • Juvenile felony parole, juvenile felony DJ

Possession / Use of Drugs

C.R.S. §18-18-403.5 classifies possession of any schedule I or II, or flunitrazepham, or ketamine of any weight as a DF4; and any weight of a schedule III, IV, or V as a DM1.

Unlawful use of any controlled substance is a DM2.

Distribution (C.R.S. §18-18-405)

DF1  

It shall be a Level 1 Drug Felony if the distribution of controlled substance involves more than 250 grams and is a schedule 1 or II CS; Or more than 112 grams of Methamphetamine, Ketamine, Heroin, or Cathinone; Or more than 50mg of Flunitrazepam

Also, it shall be a DF1 if an adult distributes any quantity of a schedule I or II controlled substance to a minor and the adult is at least 2 years older.

DF2

It shall be a level 2 Drug Felony if the distribution involves more than 14 grams <250g Schedule I or II; More than 7 grams but <112 of methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine, or cathinone; More than 10 mg of Flunitrazepam; or

If an adult distributes and quantity of a schedule III or schedule IV to a minor and the adult is at least 2 years older

DF3

It shall be a level 3 Drug Felony if the distribution involves distribution of less than 14 grams of Schedule I or II; Distribution of less than 7 grams of methamphetamine, Heroin, Ketamine, or Cathinone; Distribution of less than 10 mg of Flunitrazepham; or more than 4 grams of a Schedule III or IV controlled substance

DF4

It shall be a level 4 Drug Felony if the distribution involves distribution of less than 4 grams of Schedule III or IV controlled substance;

DM1

It shall be a level 1 Drug Misdemeanor if the distribution involves distributing a schedule V controlled substance; or a transfer with no remuneration of not more than 4 grams of a schedule III or IV controlled substance;

 

Marijuana – Distribution (C.R.S. §18-18-406)

Distribution to a minor:

•DF1:             >2.5 pounds (>1Lb. Concentrate)

•DF2:             >6 ounces (>3 oz concentrate)

•DF3:             > 1 ounce (>1/2 ounce concentrate)

•DF4:             Less than 1 ounce (1/2 ounce of concentrate)

Distribution:

•DF1:             >50 pounds (>25 pounds concentrate)

•DF2:             5-50 pounds (2.5 -25 pounds concentrate)

•DF3:             12 oz – 5 pounds (6 oz – 2.5 Lbs concentrate)

•DF4:             4-12 oz (2-6 oz concentrate)

•DM1:            Not more than 4 ounces

 

Marijuana -Cultivation

•DF3 – more than thirty plants

•DF4 – 6-30 plants

•DM1 – not more than 6 plants

 

Marijuana Possession

• 6-12 Ounces is a DM1

•2-6 ounces is a DM2

•2 ounces or less is a Drug Petty Offense and cannot be punished by more than 100 dollars

•The officer shall provide a written summons. If you fail to come to court on this summons you have committed a class 3 misdemeanor

•Using in public two or less ounces is a Drug Petty offense – fine of up to $100 AND 24 UPS

•Using more than 2 ounces is a level 2 drug misdemeanor possession

•Transferring not more than 2 ounces to another for no consideration is a drug petty offense and is not deemed dispensing or sale

•Possession of Synthetic/Salvia is a DM2 (distributing is DF3)

•Use in a Detention Facility is a DM1

 

Special Offender

If one or more of the following are present the court shall sentence the defendant to the mandatory range of DF1.

1.         You commit felony distribution and this is basically your career (most of your income and you have a special skill/expertise)

2.         You are in a conspiracy to sell drugs as a pattern of distribution (drug ring kind of thing I think)

3.         Imported into Colorado more than 14 grams of sch I or II or more than 7 grams of meth, heroin, ketamine, or cathinone

4.         Used, displayed, or possessed on his or her person or within his or her immediate reach a deadly weapon

5.         The defendant or a confederate possessed a firearm to which they had access in a manner that posed a risk to others or in a vehicle the defendant was occupying at the time of the commission

6.         The defendant got a child to sell or help sell (age is strict liability)

7.         The defendant engaged in a continuing criminal enterprise by violating an felony provision and the drug violation is a part of a continuing series of 2 or more drug violations on separate occasions with 5 or more people acting in concert and the defendant is in a position of management of the ring and that is his source of income

8.         Distribution on school grounds or vehicle, public housing development, or within 1000 feet

 

SPECIAL NOTE: by no means is this a comprehensive review of the Colorado drug offender laws.  Every case is unique and requires special evaluation from a qualified attorney.  Please seek legal advice before relying on this information.

Comments:

  1. I was told that under the new df guidlines defendents who have not been placed into rehab had to be offered that before being sentenced to doc time. can you add any light to that please

    Comment by dana on November 12, 2015 at 1:21 am

  2. Wow! I am really behind in getting back to you. Somehow I missed your comment. But thank you for asking your question. The short answer is yes. But that only applies to DF4 charges. The law mandates that the courts take all reasonable steps for rehabilitation before imposing a DOC sentence. If you are convicted of anything greater than a DF4, then that rehabilitation provision will not be applicable.

    Hope this helps. (Even if it’s late getting to you). Good luck!

    Comment by Andrew Contiguglia on February 21, 2016 at 10:31 am

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