Colorado Springs Felony Crime Attorneys
Defense for Felony Offenses
According to United States law, a felony is a crime for which an individual can be punished with at least one year in prison if convicted. A felony charge is more severe than a misdemeanor charge, which can be grounds for imprisonment of up to but not more than a year. States classify felonies according to letter grades based on severity.
Each classification carries a maximum possible sentence, and these classifications are set by state legislatures, such that the judicial system does not have to come up with a minimum/maximum punishment for every particular kind of crime.
Given the monumental stakes, if you or a loved one has been accused of a felony charge, you need an active legal defense. If you have questions about felony charges or would like to learn more about The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. and their Colorado Springs felony lawyers, dial (719) 475-2555 to book an appointment with Mr. Bussey ASAP.
Felony Charges in Colorado
If you have been charged with a felony, you may be tried and sentenced in Colorado Court or Federal Court. Unknown to many people, the federal justice system does not function the same way as state courts. For example, unlike state courts, the federal system does not allow for early parole or time off for good behavior, so you have to serve the entire sentence for which you are convicted---in other words, serving a ten year sentence in federal prison is not the same as serving a ten years sentence in state prison, because you could be up for parole in the state system after only a few years. These kinds of differences mean that if you are facing federal charges for sexual assault, burglary, armed robbery or murder, you need a top felony charge lawyer who understands the way the federal system works.
Even worse, the federal justice system is currently designed to impose the toughest sentence possible upon defendants. Mandatory sentencing guidelines used by the federal courts prevent judges from deviating from set guidelines in order to impose lighter sentences on one individual or another.
Common Colorado Felony Charges
- Massive fraud
- Treason against United States
- Aggravated assault and battery
- Internet sex crimes against minors
- Evasion of federal taxes
- Grand theft auto
- Criminal racketeering
- Rape and sexual assault
- Certain drug violations
- Certain severe traffic violations (e.g. hit and run accidents)
The felony/misdemeanor distinction that we have in the United States doesn't exist in every country whose legal system is based on Western jurisprudence -- other countries use other distinctions, such as "summary" crimes and "indictable" crimes.
Consequences of Felony Conviction
Upon conviction, a felon can lose a number of rights, including the right to serve on a jury, the right to vote, the right to carry firearms (under certain circumstances), and the right to seal a criminal record. If convicted of a felony in the United States, a foreign national can be deported. Convicted felons may also have a difficult time getting licenses, obtaining insurance, finding employment, finding housing, and getting loans and grants. Moreover, the felon will likely face punitive actions that can run the gamut from probation to jail time to death (in extremely severe cases).
Colorado's Six Classes of Felonies That Require Sentences:
Colorado sentencing uses six different "classes" of felonies. Felonies are often referred to according to the class they fall in. Class 1 felonies are the most severe crimes, such as premeditated or first-degree murder, which carry the most severe penalties, up to and including the death penalty. By contrast, class 6 felonies are the least severe and carry a penalty of less than two years of imprisonment. As of 2011, Colorado's six classes of felonies required sentences for them to fall within the following ranges:
- Class 1 Felonies - Carry a minimum sentence of life imprisonment and a maximum sentence of death. Since a person convicted of a class 1 felony is expected never to get out of prison alive, no minimum amount of parole and no fines are set for this class of felonies.
- Class 2 Felonies - Carry a sentence of eight to 24 years in prison, plus at least five years of parole. A person convicted of a class 2 felony may also be required to pay fines of $5,000 to $1,000,000.
- Class 3 Felonies - Carry a sentence of four to 12 years in prison, plus at least five years of parole. A person convicted of a class 3 felony may also be required to pay fines of $3,000 to $750,000.
- Class 4 Felonies - Carry a sentence of two to six years in prison, plus at least three years of parole. A person convicted of a class 4 felony may also be required to pay fines of $2,000 to $500,000.
- Class 5 Felonies - Carry a sentence of one to three years in prison, plus at least two years of parole. A person convicted of a class 5 felony may also be required to pay fines of $1,000 to $100,000.
- Class 6 Felonies - Carry a sentence of twelve to eighteen months in prison, plus at least one year of parole. A person convicted of a class 6 felony may also be required to pay fines of $1,000 to $100,000.
Any other elements of a sentence, like probation, community corrections, or work release may also be required in addition to prison time.
In addition, Colorado allows courts to go "above and beyond" the sentence lengths required by each class of felony if the felony committed is one that the Colorado legislature has decided is an "extraordinary risk crime." These are acts that pose a high risk of causing death or serious injury to members of the community. If a crime is an "extraordinary risk crime," the prison sentence imposed on a person who is convicted of that crime will not usually be lower than the middle of the sentencing ranges, and may be as high as the top of the sentencing range plus half.
Can I Appeal a Felony Conviction?
A person who is convicted of a felony in Colorado may face heavy penalties, including prison time, fines, or other consequences. The trial and sentencing process is often confusing, frustrating, or overwhelming, and it's always possible that the judge, jury, or prosecuting attorney misinterpreted the law or that law enforcement officers violated the convicted person's constitutional rights.
However, a felony conviction and sentence do not mean the case is over. Each person who is convicted of a crime in Colorado, whether it is a felony or a misdemeanor, has an absolute right to appeal his or her conviction to a higher court. An appeal may lead to the guilty verdict being overturned, giving the convicted person the chance at a new trial or restoring his or her freedom.
Colorado Court of Appeals
An appeal is a court case that asks a higher court to review the decision of a lower court. When a person is convicted of a felony in a Colorado state court, he or she may appeal that verdict to the Colorado Court of Appeals. If the Court of Appeals upholds the verdict, the person may try to appeal their case to the Colorado Supreme Court.
Appeals offer an enticing way to overturn a verdict and get out of prison more quickly, but they aren't successful in every case. However, cases in which it appears that serious mistakes were made during the investigation or trial may be good cases for appeal. For instance, if the judge or jury obviously got the law wrong, if there wasn't enough evidence to support a conviction, or if a glaring violation of the convicted person's constitutional rights occurred during the investigation or trial, the person convicted under these circumstances should give serious thought to discussing his or her case with an experienced Colorado Springs felony conviction appeal lawyer. A Colorado Springs criminal attorney can help you understand what happened in your case and decide whether or not appealing would be in your best interest.
Preparing for an Appellate Brief in Colorado Springs
Once the notice of appeal is filed, the person appealing his or her conviction, along with the attorney, has a limited amount of time to prepare an appellate brief. An appellate brief explains to the appeals court what went wrong in the convicted person's case and what should be done to correct it. Since appeals briefs often discuss detailed matters of criminal law, attorneys typically prepare the briefs based on information from the client and the trial record. Once the brief is complete and the two sides have exchanged briefs with one another and the court, the attorneys argue the case in person before the Colorado Court of Appeals. The court then decides whether to let the verdict stand or to overturn it.
In Colorado, persons convicted in state courts have only 45 days to file a notice of appeal, the first step in appealing a felony conviction. Since the time limit is so short, it's important to contact us as soon as possible after a conviction occurs in order to ensure that time doesn't run out on the chance to appeal.
Experienced Colorado Springs Felony Defense Trial Lawyer
The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. in Colorado Springs, practices criminal defense including felony DUI, and felony crimes such as aggravated assault, sexual assault, burglary, rape and murder. Mr. Bussey is an experienced felony criminal defense attorney and a member of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. He can provide experienced felony defense to clients in the cities of Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Cripple Creek, Castle Rock, and the counties of El Paso, Teller and Pueblo.
Additionally, attorney Timothy Bussey's experience as a former Active Duty Judge Advocate turned him into a skilled criminal defense trial attorney early in his legal career. This allows his office to provide skilled criminal defense to individuals charged with crimes on military bases, including Fort Carson, and the Air Force bases of Peterson, Cheyenne Mountain, and Schriever, as well as the U.S. Air Force Academy (USAFA). Tim Bussey can help you regardless of where you face criminal charges.
Our office stresses personalized service and client accessibility so that we are there for you when you need talented legal advice when you are faced with felony charges.