Your Boulder Criminal Case: The Basics

This is the last straw. You are cutting off your grandson. If there's trouble, he always finds it. He was arrested on a felony charge this afternoon as he and his friends were on their way to the Coors Events Center. The police officer said he got into a brawl on a bus with some rival gang members and had to be tased. Gang member? Tasing? This is all news to you. The law slapped the cuffs on all of them, now your grandson wants to be bailed out of jail. You don't know what to do. You've just had enough.

There are dozens and dozens of criminal laws in Colorado. Some are straightforward, others need some explanation. Here's some basic information to help you get acquainted with the misdemeanor and felony laws if you or a loved one is facing a criminal case in Boulder.

What Happens During a Boulder Arrest

An arrest is the beginning of your journey through the Colorado criminal justice system. Here are the agencies that may deal with you:

The police believe they have probable cause to arrest you for either a felony or a misdemeanor. Why? The cop may have personally witnessed a crime or a witness it reported. Alternatively, the officer might have a warrant, but they don't always need one. You'll be arrested and read your Miranda rights before questioning.

Here they are:

  • You have the right to remain silent.
  • Anything you say can be used against you in a court of law.
  • You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during the interrogation.
  • If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed to represent you.

Boulder County Jail

After arresting you, the police have two options -- take you to jail for booking or release you with a promise to appear at a later date. If you're trying to find an inmate, he or she is probably downtown at the Boulder County Jail.

How to Post a Bond

If you want to go home, you'll either be released on your own recognizance or have to post bail. Bail is money that you have to pay to the courts in order to be released from jail pending trial. You usually have to put up 10% of the total amount of bail the judge sets in your case in order to get out.

You may either post the full bond personally or contact a licensed bonding agent who will post the full bond for a non-refundable fee. Bonding is done 24-hours a day in the lobby of the Jail.

Getting a Lawyer

Your case is going to go through the Boulder County criminal justice system. That means you'll have to appear at a Boulder County courthouse in a courtroom open to the public. For some, this is a scary and intimidating thought. If you want a lawyer to represent you, you can hire a Boulder criminal defense attorney or ask for the services of the public defender.

Colorado State Criminal Laws and Penalties

The judge generally will sentence you in a Boulder criminal case. He or she can impose a fine and or probation, or incarceration, with or without a fine. Jail sentences in misdemeanor and traffic offenses are served in the county jail.

Sentences to incarceration for felony offenses are served in the Colorado Department of Corrections (D.O.C.) or in a community corrections facility, commonly referred to as a halfway house.

Criminal offenses are broken down into two categories, ranked from most serious to less serious:

Felonies in Boulder

Colorado classifies felonies into categories 1-6. 1 is the most serious, with 6 being the least serious. Penalties for Colorado felony are governed by the Colorado Adult Sentencing Guidelines. The state uses a very complex sentencing scheme to determine the length of your sentence if you are convicted. Penalties range from one year in prison to life without the possibility of parole or the death penalty.

Each felony is also labeled "normal" or "extraordinary risk". Some felonies are also classified as crimes of violence. Usually the rating of violence is related to actual violence involved in the crime but not always. Certain sex offenses, for example, are considered "violent" crimes even though violence may not be a factual aspect in any given sex case.

Class 1 Felony: Maximum penalty of either life in prison or the death penalty
Class 2 Felony: 8-24 years in prison
Class 3 Felony: 4-12 years in prison, 16 if the crime is considered "extraordinary risk"
Class 4 Felony: 2-6 years in prison, 8 if the crime is considered "extraordinary risk"
Class 5 Felony: 1-3 years in prison, 4 if the crime is considered "extraordinary risk"
Class 6 Felony: 1 years-18 months in prison, 2 years if the crime is considered "extraordinary risk"

Within any given range, the actual sentence will depend on a number of factors such as your criminal history, impact on the victim, your behavior while on bond, denial or acceptance of responsibility, work history, family history, indicators of risk, and remorse.

Boulder Misdemeanors

Misdemeanors are divided into three separate classes, 1-3. They're less serious than felonies, but remember, a conviction or guilty plea can have consequences on your career and your freedom. If you are a non-citizen, a misdemeanor can impact your immigration status.

Class 1 Misdemeanor: 6- 18 months in jail, 2 years if the crime is considered "extraordinary risk" and/or a $500-$5,000 fine.
Class 2 Misdemeanor: 3- 12 months in jail, and/or a $250-$1,000 fine.
Class 3 Misdemeanor: 0-6 months in jail and/or a $50-$750 fine.

Some crimes carry additional penalties such mandatory counseling or substance abuse classes.

A Final Word About Boulder Criminal Cases

Criminal cases can have a serious, lasting impact on your life. You have options and rights. Anyone charged with an offense may want to at least consider consulting a skilled attorney.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.