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Written by: Austin Lux
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So the prosecutor has charged you with a drug offense.

If you have no prior drug charges on your record, you might be wondering, Do first-time drug offenders go to jail in Colorado?

There is no “one size fits all” answer to this question.

Today we’ll discuss some of the ways that you might avoid jail for a first-time drug charge.

Do First-Time Offenders Go to Jail? Three Ways to Avoid It

People who get charged with a drug crime for the first time do not necessarily go to jail.

Incarceration is among the potential penalties, so it is not impossible to end up in jail with a first-time charge, but a good defense attorney can help you avoid that serious consequence in a few different ways. 

Pre-Trial Diversion for Adults in Colorado

For a state-level drug charge, you can seek relief from the Colorado adult pre-trial diversion program. This program is only available to first-time offenders.

If you are accepted into the program, you enter into a legally binding agreement with the prosecutor.

You agree to perform certain actions and follow certain restrictions for the diversion period, and the prosecutor agrees to ultimately dismiss the charges upon successful completion of all terms. 

For instance, you may have to get a drug evaluation and enter a treatment program or perform a certain number of hours of community service.

The district attorney may also put some restrictions on you during the diversionary period. If you comply with all of the terms, your charges are dismissed. Pre-trial diversion is also available to juveniles.

Plea Bargaining

Plea bargaining is another way you can avoid jail time for a first-time drug offense. Your lawyer will work to negotiate a favorable plea deal with the prosecution—one that does not involve jail time.

In a plea bargain, you usually agree to plead guilty:

  • to a lesser charge, or 
  • to the same charge with the promise of a sentence that is lighter than what you’d face if you went to trial and lost. 

Prosecutors agree to plea bargains to reduce crowded dockets because once you plead guilty, there is no trial. 


A skilled criminal defense lawyer might be able to win an acquittal or a dismissal of charges for you. One way of doing this is to ask the court to exclude evidence that the police illegally seized.

This might happen if, for example, the police seized drugs in your possession without a warrant. A judge’s exclusion of critical evidence can devastate the prosecution’s case, essentially forcing them to dismiss the charges against you.

Start Fighting Back

The criminal justice system in Colorado is cynical, merciless, and brutally competitive.

If the State of Colorado has charged you with a drug offense, you are going to need a skilled criminal defense lawyer to protect your rights and your future. 

You are in excellent hands with the lawyers at Lux Law Firm. They have successfully defended many clients who were in the position you find yourself in today.

Contact the Lux Law Firm at 719-249-6290 or contact us online to schedule a free initial consultation.

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