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Class 1 Felonies in Colorado

Posted on December 1, 2022 in

Felony charges are categorized in Colorado by the severity of the crime. The most serious is a Class 1 felony which carries the harshest potential penalties.

Class 1 Felony Penalties in Colorado

Class 1 felonies carry the harshest potential penalties upon conviction. In most cases, the penalty is life in prison without the possibility of parole. Felons also lose their right to own or possess a firearm. Since Colorado abolished the death penalty in 2020, a life sentence without parole is the harshest penalty someone can receive.

Types of Class 1 Felony Crimes in Colorado

Class 1 felonies in Colorado include the following:

Homicide and Related Offenses

First Degree Murder (CRS 18-3-102)

A person commits the class 1 felony of murder in the first degree if:

  1. After deliberation and with the intent to cause the death of a person other than himself, he causes the death of that person or of another person; or
  2. Acting either alone or with one or more persons, he or she commits or attempts to commit arson, robbery, burglary, kidnapping, sexual assault as prohibited by section 18-3-402, sexual assault in the first or second degree as prohibited by section 18-3-402 or 18-3-403 as those sections existed prior to July 1, 2000, or a class 3 felony for sexual assault on a child as provided in section 18-3-405 (2), or the crime of escape as provided in section 18-8-208, and, in the course of or in furtherance of the crime that he or she is committing or attempting to commit, or of immediate flight therefrom, the death of a person, other than one of the participants, is caused by anyone; or
  3. By perjury or subornation of perjury he procures the conviction and execution of any innocent person; or
  4. Under circumstances evidencing an attitude of universal malice manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life generally, he knowingly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to a person, or persons, other than himself, and thereby causes the death of another; or
  5. He or she commits unlawful distribution, dispensation, or sale of a controlled substance to a person under the age of eighteen years on school grounds as provided in section 18-18-407 (2), and the death of such person is caused by the use of such controlled substance; or
  6. The person knowingly causes the death of a child who has not yet attained twelve years of age and the person committing the offense is one in a position of trust with respect to the victim.

First Degree Murder of a Peace Officer or Firefighter

  1. A person who commits murder in the first degree; and,
  2. The victim is a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical service provider engaged in the performance of official duties.


First Degree Kidnapping

  1. Any person who does any of the following acts with the intent thereby to force the victim or any other person to make any concession or give up anything of value in order to secure a release of a person under the offender’s actual or apparent control:
    • Forcibly seizes and carries any person from one place to another; or
    • Entices or persuades any person to go from one place to another; or
    • imprisons or forcibly secretes any person.
    • The person kidnapped suffered bodily injury.

Wrongs to Children

Child Abuse

  1. A person who knowingly causes the death of a child under the age of 12; and,
  2. Who is in a position of trust with respect to the child commits murder in the first degree.

Escape and Offenses Relating to Custody

Assault During Escape

  1. Any person confined in any lawful place of confinement within the state (inmate or arrestee) who,
  2. While escaping or attempting to escape, commits an assault with intent to commit bodily injury upon another person with a deadly weapon, or by any means of force likely to produce serious bodily injury; and,
  3. The person has been convicted of a class 1 felony.


  1. Levies war against the state of Colorado; or,
  2. Adheres to its enemies, giving them aid and comfort.

Is a Class 1 Felony Conviction a Deportable Offense in Colorado?

Immigrants can be deported due to a class 1 felony conviction. However, they will only be removed from the U.S. if their sentence is commuted, since defendants must serve life in prison. A commuted sentence shortens the amount of time a felon must serve in jail, but it is rare for it to occur in Colorado. Only the governor can commute a sentence in most states, and only the President if it is a federal sentence.

Can I Appeal a Class 1 Felony Conviction?

You have the right to appeal a class 1 felony conviction. Filing an appeal to the Colorado Court of Appeals is not an opportunity to re-try the case but asks a higher court to review the lower court’s decision. If serious mistakes were made during the investigation or trial, or there was not enough evidence to support a conviction, there is a possibility that your verdict can be overturned.

Why You Need a Defense Attorney

If you are facing a class 1 felony charge in Colorado, your freedom is on the line. Therefore, it is critical to hire a skilled criminal defense lawyer who can develop a legal strategy that casts doubt on the prosecutor’s case. Doing so can lead to a favorable plea bargain, conviction on a lesser charge, being found not guilty, or the charges being dropped.

Additionally, the legal system can also be extremely complex and overwhelming. An experienced criminal defense attorney will help by explaining the charges filed against you and their implications, guiding you through criminal proceedings, investigating the allegations and reviewing the State’s evidence, hiring experts, and locating witnesses to testify on your behalf.

Speak to a Skilled Colorado Defense Lawyer Today

Contact Flesch & Beck Law today to discuss your legal options. We can help you build a strong and strategic defense and will remain with you every step of the way. We offer free consultations; contact us today.