CO Crimes Commonly Caused by Drug and Alcohol Abuse

Colorado creates consequences for those who break the laws in the state. While they may not excuse crimes, they do understand that there are often reasons behind why people commit criminal acts.

Many studies have shown that there is a connection between committing certain crimes and the use of drugs or alcohol. Additionally, many people with a drug or alcohol abuse disorder tend to commit certain crimes. You could say that there are definitely some crimes that are caused by drug and alcohol abuse around the country, and Colorado is not immune to those crimes.

Here is what you need to know about the links between certain crimes and alcohol and/or drug abuse, including the penalties that can be expected in Colorado if you are found guilty of the crime – whether you have a substance use disorder or not.

Common Offenses Related to Drugs and Alcohol

Unfortunately, for those struggling with drug and alcohol abuse, there are several crimes in Colorado that are associated with the abuse. Drugs and alcohol abuse can cause people to act in ways they may not otherwise, impacting decision-making and causing them to make rash decisions about their actions, which can lead to breaking the law.

Driving under the influence is obviously a common crime associated with drugs and alcohol abuse, but there are more common crimes beyond that. The most common crimes include:

Sex Crimes

In Colorado, sex crimes are often divided into two very basic categories: sexual contact and sexual assault. Sexual contact is defined in the state as unwanted touching in a sexual way, such as groping or fondling. Sexual assault, on the other hand, involves intrusion or penetration.

In Colorado, sexual assault is a felony. A conviction can lead to up to 12 years in a state prison or fines of as much as $750,000. If aggravating factors are included, like a victim under age 14 or serious bodily injury, then the penalties increase to up to 24 years in prison and fines of $1 million.

Sexual contact, on the other hand, is normally a Class 1 misdemeanor in Colorado. It’s also considered a crime of extraordinary risk, which can increase its classification and lead to increased penalties. Misdemeanor sexual contact often results in up to two years in jail and fines of as much as $5,000. But if force is used, then it can be a felony, leading to up to eight years in prison and fines of as much as $500,000.

Child Abuse

Children are often unfortunate victims of the consequences of drug and alcohol abuse when a person in their life abuses substances. That’s why child abuse is a crime often associated with drug and alcohol abuse.

In Colorado, child abuse is defined as harming a minor under the age of 16 or placing them in harm’s way. If there is no injury to the child, then it’s often a misdemeanor crime that can result in up to 18 months in jail and fines of $1,800. However, if an injury does occur, then it can be a felony, resulting in up to 16 years in prison and fines of as much as $750,000.

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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is not considered a crime on its own, but simply an enhancement to another crime such as stalking, assault, sexual contact, or child abuse. It qualifies as domestic violence if it is perpetrated against someone in your family or household.

As an enhancement, it means that the penalties depend heavily on the underlying charge associated, so it varies. However, anyone who has been convicted for the fourth time with a domestic violence enhancement is considered a habitual domestic violence offender. That is itself a Class 5 felony, which can result in up to three years in prison and fines of as much as $100,000.


Homicide in Colorado is split into five categories. There is first-degree and second-degree murder, manslaughter, vehicular homicide, and criminally negligent homicide. The degrees are often associated with the state of mind of the perpetrator during the killing. The more intentional their behavior, the harsher the penalty associated with it.

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For example, first-degree murder is considered premeditated, so it can result in life in prison. On the other hand, manslaughter is the unintended death of someone due to the reckless behavior of the defendant, which can lead to a prison sentence of up to six years.

Drug and alcohol abuse is something that Colorado is trying to combat. In many jurisdictions in the state, those who are facing crimes related to drugs and alcohol may be offered treatment to help them get to the root of their issues and the crimes they committed.

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 recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020, and is Lead Counsel rated.