Types of Crimes

There are four different types of crimes—and they are prosecuted by different offices.


Felonies are the most serious criminal violations of Colorado state laws (Colorado Revised Statutes), and include robbery, murder, rape, and possession of illegal drugs for sale. In Colorado, felonies are divided into six classes, with Class 6 being the lowest level of felony and Class 1 the most serious, with prison sentences ranging from 18 months to life in prison (or death penalty).  Fines may also be imposed.

There are also four classes of drug felonies, with Class 4 being the lowest, and Class 1 the highest, with prison sentences ranging from six months to 32 years in prison.

The Denver District Attorney prosecutes felony crimes.


Misdemeanors are less serious criminal violations of Colorado state laws, punishable by a sentence of up to 18 months in county jail.  A person convicted of a misdemeanor cannot be sentenced to state prison, unless the misdemeanor sentence is served simultaneously (concurrently) with a felony sentence. In Colorado, misdemeanor offenses are divided into three classes, with Class 3 being the lowest level of misdemeanor and Class 1 the most serious.

Misdemeanors cover a wide range of offenses, including serious traffic offenses, alcohol-related traffic offenses such as DUI and DWAI, careless driving resulting in injury or death, domestic violence, 3rd degree assault, 2nd degree forgery, indecent exposure, obstructing a police officer, theft less than $500, resisting arrest, criminal mischief with less than $500 damage, public fighting, prostitution and soliciting for prostitution, and underage drinking.

There are also two classes of drug misdemeanors, DM1 and DM2, where the maximum possible punishment is 18 months.

The Denver District Attorney prosecutes misdemeanor crimes.

Petty Offenses

Petty offenses are the least serious criminal violations of Colorado state laws. Examples of petty offenses are third degree criminal trespass and littering of public or private property. The maximum penalty for a Class 1 Petty Offense is a fine up to $500 and/or six months in jail. The penalty for a Class 2 Petty Offense is outlined in each statute, but the penalty is usually less than a Class 1 Petty Offense.

The Denver District Attorney prosecutes petty offenses, but many petty offenses are prosecuted under similar municipal ordinances by the City Attorney.

Municipal Ordinance Violations & Infractions

Municipal ordinances are city laws passed by City Council (Denver Revised Municipal Code) and include such offenses as defacing property, petty theft, shoplifting, resistance, interference of a peace officer, curfew violations, assault, disorderly conduct, disturbing the peace, trespass, open container violations, violating park curfews, and non-alcohol traffic violations.

Infractions relate only to very specific (not all) charges involving use and possession of marijuana and certain traffic violations under the Denver municipal code.  Infractions may be paid without making a court appearance.

The Denver City Attorney prosecutes violations and infractions of Denver’s municipal ordinances. 

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