September 28, 2023
According to news reports, 2019 was a deadly year for many in Colorado. In fact, 63 people were killed by homicide in Denver last year, the most since 2004.
As violent crimes in Denver increase, so do the penalties for committing such crimes. Here is what you need to know about crimes of violence and the mandatory minimums for such offenses in Colorado.
What are Crimes of Violence under Colorado Law?
In Colorado, crimes of violence are crimes that carry an enhanced sentence. They include crimes such as:
- Crimes against an at-risk juvenile or adult
- First or second-degree assault
- Sex crimes such as rape and sexual assault
- First-degree burglary
- Sexual offenses using a threat, force, intimidation or the victim sustained bodily injury
- Aggravated robbery
- First or second-degree unlawful termination of a pregnancy
- First-degree arson
- Criminal extortion
An enhanced sentence may be applied at sentencing when the following occurs during either the commission or planning of a crime:
- Serious bodily injury or death to another person occurred (other than an accomplice)
- The use, possession, or threatened use of a deadly weapon
Mandatory Minimums for Colorado Crimes of Violence
If someone is convicted of crimes of violence, then they face a few additional enhancements to their mandatory minimum sentencing. These include heavily increased prison sentences (up to life in prison) and consecutively served sentences when found guilty of multiple charges.
Increased Prison Sentence
A conviction for a crime of violence brings with it a mandatory term of incarceration. These fall into two categories:
- A maximum of twice the ordinary maximum sentence for the class of offense
- A minimum of the midpoint of the range for an offense
For example, a person convicted of second-degree assault, which is a class 4 felony in Colorado, will have a sentence of two to six years in prison as well as possible fines up to $500,000. If they threaten the victim with violence or a deadly weapon during the commission of the crime, then they face an additional two to six years in prison.
A sex crime is also considered a crime of violence in Colorado. In sex crime convictions, the court is required to sentence perpetrators to an indeterminate term of at least the midpoint for the range of the class of the offense, up to a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Multiple Violent Crimes
If a person is convicted of two or more separate violent crimes arising out of the same incident in Colorado, then the sentences for each crime are required to be served consecutively, not concurrently (at the same time).
Note, there is an option for the court where, by discretion, it may order sentences to be served concurrently if one of the crimes of violence for which a person was convicted are:
- Assault in the second degree
- Aggravated robbery
Exceptions to Mandatory Sentencing in Colorado
There is one exception to mandatory sentencing in Colorado: Cases in which the court finds extenuating or unusual circumstances. If that happens, then it is up to the discretion of the judge to modify the sentence. If this occurs, then the perpetrator cannot be released earlier than 119 days after they were placed in custody.
Colorado takes crimes of violence very seriously and the sentencing reflects that. If you are charged with a crime of violence, then it’s best to get an attorney to help you navigate the process.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.