As of 2020, Colorado drug possession charges are no longer felonies for amounts that indicate personal use only.
The goal of the new law is to lessen the burden on the Colorado prison system by reducing the number of people incarcerated for low-level drug possession crimes.
The law also represented a shift in Colorado’s focus from penalizing addiction to treating it.
However, the law does not apply retroactively, so anyone with a past conviction for drug possession cannot have it dismissed.
Other crimes, such as selling or intending to distribute drugs, are still felonies.
Defining Drug Possession in Colorado
“Possession” in a drug possession charge can be actual, constructive, or joint.
Actual possession means you are actually holding the drug on your person. Constructive possession means you have control over it but the drugs are not actually on your person.
For example, if you had drugs in your car’s glove compartment or in a safe in your house.
Who actually owns the drugs does not really matter. Someone that is holding drugs for their friend can still be guilty of possession, along with their friend.
Joint possession means that two or more people have possession of the drugs.
Petty Drug Offenses
Possession of over one ounce and less than two ounces of marijuana, drug paraphernalia, or prescription drugs in a container other than the one in which the medication was prescribed is a drug petty offense.
Petty offenses are subject to a $100 fine.
The use of marijuana in public also carries up to 24 hours of community service.
Drug Possession Classes
Below are the classes in which Colorado classifies their drug possession crimes.
Level 2 Misdemeanors
Possession of up to three ounces of marijuana concentrate is a level 2 misdemeanor.
These offenses most often have a one-year probation sentence with up to 120 days in jail for violations and a maximum $500 fine.
For third and subsequent offenses, the jail time increases to six months.
Level 1 Misdemeanors
The biggest change is that it is now a level 1 misdemeanor to possess over four grams of most schedule I or II drugs.
Schedule I and II drugs are those that have a high potential for abuse.
Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical use and include heroin, LSD, and peyote.
Schedule II drugs include opioids, cocaine, meth, and morphine, and have some accepted medical use.
Possession of schedule II, IV, or V drugs, over six ounces of marijuana, or over three ounces of marijuana concentrate is also a level 1 misdemeanor.
These offenses have penalties of up to two years probation and up to 180 days jail for probation violations, as well as a $1000 maximum fine.
Sentences might also include community service and a mental health assessment and counseling.
For third offenses of a level 1 misdemeanor, possible jail time increases to 364 days.
Fourth and subsequent offenses are charged as level 4 felonies.
Level 4 Drug Felony
Level 4 drug felonies are the lowest-level felonies.
Possession of over four grams of schedule I or II drugs, or of any amount of “date rape” drugs (e.g., GHB, ketamine, or flunitrazepam) are level 4 felonies.
Penalties for these offenses are from six months to two years of prison, fines starting at $1,000 up to $100,000, a $1,500 drug offender surcharge, and one year of mandatory parole.
Finally, people who are not United States citizens that are convicted of a felony are likely to be deported.
Level 4 drug felonies could be reduced to level 1 misdemeanors after completion of a probation program for eligible people.
Usually, probation will include abstaining from drug use and participation in a drug rehabilitation program.
People who have two or more prior felony convictions are ineligible to reduce their convictions.
Aggravating factors will increase the penalties for drug felonies.
These factors include if the person is already on parole for another felony, on probation when they commit the new felony, or a presently jailed or escaped felon.
Penalties for aggravated felonies include increased fines and possible doubling of the maximum time confinement period.
The Lux Law Firm Has the Experience Necessary for Your Best Defense
If you are facing drug possession charges, it is very important that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side.
The Lux Law Firm specializes in criminal defense, and we focus on resolving our clients’ legal issues as skillfully as possible.
Drug possession charges in Colorado are still a serious matter.
You could be dealing with fines, probation, possible jail time, and a criminal record.
Even worse, if you are not a United States citizen, you could be deported for any level of drug crime.
Contact us now to learn more about how we can help you with your drug possession charges.