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At Albani Law, LLC, I am often asked what is the difference between a misdemeanor offense and a felony offense. Here are a few of the important differences.

A misdemeanor is by and large considered a minor crime. A Felony on the other hand is a major crime.

In Colorado, a misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of two years in the county jail. All misdemeanors are probation eligible. A judge can sentence the offender to probation usually for a maximum period of time of two years. With certain sex offense misdemeanors the period of probation can be for up to five years. These offenses are rare, however.

Colorado has three basic levels of misdemeanor offenses. The most serious level of misdemeanor is a class one misdemeanor (M/1). The least serious misdemeanor is a class three misdemeanor (M/3). Examples of common misdemeanors in Colorado include simple assault resulting in bodily injury, simple child abuse, and harassment.

In addition Colorado has a number of traffic misdemeanors, including Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs, Driving After Judgment Prohibited, Reckless Driving and Careless Driving.

Colorado has six levels of felonies. The most serious felony is a class one felony (F/1) which carries the possibility of a death sentence. The least serious or lowest felony is a class six felony. Unlike a misdemeanor, a felony carries a possible prison sentence to be served in the Colorado Department of Corrections. The Department of Corrections (or “DOC”) operates a number of prison facilities throughout the State of Colorado.

Anyone charged with a misdemeanor or a felony is allowed to have a jury trial. In most misdemeanor cases, the accused is granted a jury of six persons. In a felony case, the accused is entitled to a jury of twelve persons. Jury verdicts in Colorado must be unanimous.

An important warning is given here. In County Courts, a jury of six is granted automatically once a jury trial is requested and set.

In Municipal Courts, however, the defendant shortly after the case begins must take two steps to ensure a jury trial. First, the request for a jury trial must be made in writing and filed with the Court. Second, the defendant must pay a $25.00 jury fee to the Court Clerk. The accused must take both of these steps quickly after entering a not guilty plea. A failure to fulfill each of these two steps in a timely fashion will result in a loss of a jury trial.

Anyone convicted of a felony in Colorado will lose their right to possess, use, or own a firearm. Only a few misdemeanors require that the defendant lose his/her right to a firearm. For example, if the accused is convicted of an offense involving domestic violence, he/she will likely lose his/her right to a firearm.

A felony conviction may deprive the offender of the ability to run for or hold public offense and to have or hold any of a number of professions licenses. Most misdemeanors will not so deprive the offender from holding public office or obtaining a professional license.

A felony conviction may deprive the offender of the ability to obtain a bank loan or to contract with any federal, state or local government. A misdemeanor conviction will not likely deprive the offender of obtaining a bank loan or contracting with the government.

A felony conviction may be used in future court cases to impeach the offender. Most misdemeanors cannot be used to impeach credibility.

A felony conviction can have far reaching consequences for a non-citizen residing in the United States. Numerous felonies are grounds for removal or deportation from the United States. A felony can bar a non-citizen from ever being granted citizenship in the United States. Many misdemeanors can also have far reaching immigration consequences. Immigration law is very tricky and any non-citizen facing a crime in Colorado should consult a qualified immigration attorney.

At Albani Law LLC, we represent Clients accused of all misdemeanors and felonies. While we do not practice Immigration Law, we can put you in touch with qualified immigration counsel. Call us, we can help.

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