What Happens to First-Time Offenders in Colorado?
Facing criminal charges can be frightening and get worse if you’re convicted and imprisoned or fined heavily. That often happens if you don’t research your options or understand how Colorado’s criminal justice system works. If you’re a first-time offender going through the criminal system, consult lawyers from a reputable criminal litigation law firm in Colorado Springs.
They can provide legal advice and represent you to help you defend yourself. They can also explain the various sentencing options and help you determine eligibility.
What Are Alternative Sentencing Options in Colorado?
Under Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-106, the law provides that any county may provide a program whereby any person sentenced to jail upon conviction of a crime can be granted the privilege of leaving the prison during the necessary and reasonable hours if:
- Seeking employment
- Working to provide reasonable and necessary family or child care services upon proper verification
Criminal defense lawyers in Colorado Springs explain that alternative sentencing options help defendants avoid the severe consequences of a conviction. A court may sentence a person who would otherwise be sentenced to the county jail to an available day-reporting or residential reentry program based on eligibility.
What Types of Alternative Sentences Are Available in Colorado?
The court system has several sentencing alternatives available for first-time offenders, as explained by Colorado Springs criminal defense attorneys:
Probation helps you avoid incarceration in prison or jail. If the court deems you eligible for probation and sentences you to it, you must adhere to several probationary conditions, some of which include the following:
- Obey all laws, no matter how petty you find them to be
- Report to the probation officer regularly
- Abide by any court orders, such as payment of a fine or restitution
- Abstain from alcohol or substance abuse
- Mandatory counseling
- No possession of a firearm
- Maintain employment
- Report any employment or address change to the probation officer
- Not travel outside the jurisdiction without permission from the probation officer
- Keep off certain people and places, especially in domestic violence and assault cases
Probation officers can check up on the probationer at home or work unannounced. Probationers convicted of drug charges could be subjected to random drug checks or searches. Most courts maintain that probationers may not claim freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment.
Courts may impose a “suspended sentence” on a defendant upon conviction. A suspended sentence implies that jail or prison time is put on hold if the defendant complies with specific obligations such as probationary conditions or completing a drug treatment program.
Under this alternative sentence, the judge can order you to serve the sentence before holding a trial. However, the prosecution and the probation officers must show that you acted against the condition that led to the suspended sentence in the first place.
Community Service Programs
Community service programs are available for first-time offenders who have committed minor or property-related offenses. The sentencing alternative enables offenders to continue employment, seek substance abuse treatment, and stay connected to the community instead of being imprisoned.
Community service programs often subject offenders to monitoring by state and local law enforcement agencies. Offenders must also fulfill specific conditions such as:
- Daily reporting to authorities
- Restitution to victims
- Education classes
- Community service
Fines are a standard alternative sentencing option for first-time offenders convicted of less serious crimes. Crimes often punished by imposing a fine include:
- Traffic violations
- Minor drug possession
- First-time drunk driving
Depending on the severity of the crime, a judge may combine a fine with other sentences, such as probation or community service. The law specifies the maximum amount you can be fined for a particular offense, and judges have the discretion to decide how much to impose. Aggressive criminal defense attorneys in Colorado Springs can fight to protect you from unfair or hefty penalties.
Home Detention Programs
Home detention is also known as home confinement or house arrest. The programs enable offenders to remain home and spend time with their families. They range from total home confinement to intermittent release for limited purposes.
Depending on the type of home detention program imposed, you can attend school, work, or keep up with various appointments and other approved activities. When not attending court-approved events, you must generally remain at home. Judges may also impose some conditions on the home detention sentencing, such as:
- Alcohol tracking
- Global positioning system tracking
- Random alcohol or drug tests
- Visits from parole or probation officers
Not all these programs may be available to all offenders, and it’s not always guaranteed that the court will offer the options. Working with skilled Colorado Springs criminal defense attorneys enhances your chances of qualifying for alternative sentences. They can investigate your case and find any factors leading to a dismissal of the charges or lighter sentencing.
An Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Helping You Fight for a Lighter Sentence
The Colorado criminal justice system can be intimidating and complex. If facing criminal charges, don’t go to trial alone. You risk heftier penalties and waiving off rights you didn’t even know you had if you don’t understand how the law works. Lawyers from a reputable civil litigation firm can guide you and help you fight for the most favorable outcome.
The Lux Law Firm dedicates itself to aggressively defending clients against criminal charges. We treat every client as our top priority, giving them the best care and putting our expertise to work to protect their rights and freedom. Whether you’re a first-time offender or going through the system a subsequent time, we can help you. Call us at 719-451-7469 for a FREE case evaluation.