What Are the Penalties for Crimes of Violence in Colorado?


Facing any criminal charge in Colorado is serious, but a charge of a crime of violence is especially grave, with very serious life-long consequences. While a presiding judge has options for penalties for other felony convictions—including choosing community corrections or probation over incarceration—a conviction for a violent crime comes with stiff mandatory penalties. Judges have no legal latitude to make adjustments to penalties but are compelled by the statutes in place to send individuals convicted of crimes of violence to prison. While a judge may increase the penalty for a violent crime, they cannot reduce the penalty below the midpoint of the state’s “presumptive range” of the minimum mandatory sentence.

For those faced with charges of violent crimes in Colorado, it’s essential to understand the penalties that come with a conviction.

Crimes of Violence in Colorado

Only specific crimes in Colorado have the designation of “crimes of violence.” Crimes including sexual assault, kidnapping, and robbery come with the state’s enhanced penalties when accompanied by the use of deadly weapons or when deadly force results in a victim’s serious injury or death. Sex crimes using threats of violence, violent force, or resulting in any bodily injury also come with enhanced penalties.

Crimes of violence in Colorado include:

  • First and second-degree murder
  • First and second-degree assault
  • Kidnapping
  • Sexual assaults, including assaults on children, child exploitation, sexual assault on a client by a psychotherapist, and sexual assault by a peace officer
  • Aggravated robbery
  • Criminal extortion
  • First-degree arson
  • First-degree burglary
  • Escape from custody
  • First and second-degree unlawful termination of pregnancy
  • Crimes against at-risk individuals, both children and adults

While any of a number of crimes involving unlawful sexual offenses against a child are crimes of violence in Colorado even without the possession of a weapon if the crime involved threats, force, or any bodily injury, other crimes like kidnapping and robbery only become crimes of violence with mandatory penalties if accompanied by the use of deadly weapons or involving serious bodily injury or death.

Mandatory Penalties for Crimes of Violence in Colorado

Each class of crime in Colorado comes with a presumptive sentencing range with the crime’s minimum sentence at the midpoint of the range if it’s designated as a crime of violence, and its maximum sentence at twice the maximum of the presumptive range.

The penalty ranges for crimes of violence in Colorado are as follows:

  • 16-48 years in prison for Class 2 felonies
  • 10-32 years in prison for Class 3 felonies
  • 5-16 years in prison for Class 4 felonies
  • 2.5-8 years in prison for Class 5 felonies
  • 1.5-4 years in prison for Class 6 felonies

Use of a dangerous weapon or a semiautomatic assault rifle in the commission of any of the above felonies adds 5 years to the mandatory prison sentence. Many sex crimes, including those committed against children, have a maximum penalty of life in prison with a minimum required penalty at the midpoint of the presumptive range.

Only in relatively rare cases that a judge considers exceptional or involving extenuating circumstances can the judge grant a lesser sentence, along with a detailed written explanation of the reason for their exception.