Although it is now legal to possess small quantities of marijuana in Colorado, new drug laws that went into effect in 2013 have had an impact on how drug crimes are handled in the state.
All felony drug cases have been put in special classes ranging from D1 to D4. The lower the number associated with the crime, the more serious the offense is perceived to be. For example, a DF1 crime involves a large quantity of Schedule I or Schedule II substances that are being distributed. The amount will either be four or eight ounces depending on which drug is involved, except with marijuana, where there must be a minimum of 2.5 pounds to be classified as a D1 offense. Conviction of a DF1 offense will be met with a mandatory prison sentence ranging from 8 to 32 years. D2 and D3 offenses would involve the distribution of smaller amounts and lesser penalties.
DF4 charges have undergone the most changes with the new laws in place. Conviction of a DF4 now requires a sentencing court to exhaust all treatment and rehabilitation options before an offender can be sent to prison. Possession of more than 12 ounces of marijuana is considered a DF4 offense that would meet the standards for treatment and rehabilitation before a prison sentence can be implemented.
Because the laws are fairly complicated, and offenders stand a chance of dealing with lesser penalties due to relaxed attitudes toward drugs in Colorado, it’s imperative to hire an experienced attorney to evaluate your case and help you to navigate through the myriad of potential charges and penalties you may be facing.
If you are convicted of the possession or sale of any kind of controlled substance, you could be in for a rude awakening. Not only are you possibly facing fines and jail or prison time, but you could also suffer from other consequences as well. A drug charge can sometimes result in the loss of driving privileges, the loss of your children who will be placed in another home, a possible loss of property, and the loss of the right to vote or to carry a gun.
You need to know exactly what kinds of charges you are facing when you are arrested. Most drug crimes are based on the amount of the drug in question and what kind of drug it is. The other factor you must understand is that some drug crimes will be charged at the state level, while other drug crimes will meet the test for more serious federal charges.
Colorado, like many other states, classifies controlled substances into schedules for purposes of crime classifications and corresponding penalties. These schedules are modeled after those established by the federal government. Some examples of controlled substance schedules and specific drugs in them include:
Marijuana has its own separate classification. It is also important to note that while legal in Colorado, marijuana is still illegal under federal law. In cases involving marijuana, federal law will always take precedence where interstate possession, manufacturing, cultivation and distribution are concerned.
You also need to know that revised statutes mean that while it has been legalized, laws regarding larger quantities of marijuana can still result in hefty fines and incarceration. Those penalties range from a petty drug offense for possessing 1-2 ounces of pot which is punishable by up to $100 in fines, to DF1 drug felonies where the sale of more than 2.5 pounds to a minor could result in up to 32 years in jail and up to $1 million in fines.
You may be under the misguided perception that just because some drug laws in the state are relaxed, that all drug laws have been relaxed. Nothing could be further from the truth.
An unfortunate by-product of the legalization of marijuana is that police now subject drivers to a higher level of scrutiny on routine traffic stops to ensure they are not operating the vehicle under the influence of marijuana. A driver whose blood contains five nanograms or more of THC may be charged with Driving Under the Influence of Drugs. Unlike alcohol, the science is far from settled on the issue of how much THC corresponds with impaired driving and we believe many court battles are still ahead in trying to come up with a more accurate assessment of these types of cases.
As far as other drugs are concerned, many people are charged with driving under the influence despite the fact that the drugs they are using are prescribed medications. While some come with warnings against driving, others have therapeutic uses that can actually provide a benefit to drivers. Most of the time, we see driving under the influence charges after a car accident. It is easy for the police to blame a substance on the accident, whether or not it supports the facts of the case.
That’s why it is imperative to have an experienced drug defense lawyer who understands current laws as well as the current science on testing methods. Understanding these methods is the key to proving to a jury and the prosecution that a person may not have been impaired by medications after all.
Despite more relaxed laws, most drug crimes can carry harsh penalties if you are convicted. Knowing what to do and how to deal with a drug crime charge can make all the difference in whether or not you win your case and remain free to go about living your life. Because drugs are so prevalent in today’s society, it’s easy to make a mistake and get involved with controlled substances. It’s our job to make sure that we do everything in our power to minimize the effects of that mistake, get you help if you need it, and help you recover so that you can move forward.
At Decker & Jones, we pride ourselves in staying current on drug laws in Colorado and knowing exactly what steps to take and what strategies to implement to assist our clients. Turn to us when you need help.
We have nearly 30 years of combined legal experience and have provided people with compassionate and comprehensive legal services as they fight serious drug possession, distribution and selling charges. We will thoroughly evaluate your case and provide you with the best possible legal options for your situation.
Contact us today at our Golden or Denver offices at 303.279.1586 or by filling out our online contact form for a free consultation to see how we can put our skills and experience to work for you.