Articles Posted in Felony Crimes

Colorado Springs police have noted an increase in the number of homicides in the city since last year, but they say they can see no obvious pattern to them, according to a recent article in The Colorado Springs Gazette.

In 2011, police in Colorado Springs recorded 32 homicides, a 33 percent increase from 2010. Unlike the usual types of cases law enforcement typically handles, however, many of the cases were considered “anomalies,” involving visitors to Colorado Springs or an unfortunate mix of events that don’t happen in an average year. The rate of other violent crimes in the area, especially robberies and burglaries, dropped during this time.

Despite the larger number of deaths that were presumed to be homicides in 2011, police do not believe that the numbers indicate Colorado Springs is seeing an increase in crime overall or is becoming less safe. The police department was quick to point out that, because homicides tend to get lots of media attention, it can feel as though the streets are becoming less safe when in fact they are just as safe as usual. In fact, Colorado Springs ranked as the eighth safest city in the U.S. in 2011, both due to its low crime rates and its low risk of car accidents.
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For the seventh year in a row, Centennial was named Colorado’s safest city when it came to crime rates, according to a recent article in the Centennial Citizen. The list includes 400 cities nationwide with populations over 75,000 people and ranks cities on several crime- and other safety-issue-related indicators.

Compared to other U.S. cities, Centennial came in number 16th overall. The safest city in the U.S. was judged to be Fishers, Indiana, a suburb of Indianapolis. Boulder, Fort Collins, Colorado Springs, and Denver also made the nationwide top 400 list along with several smaller Colorado cities, suggesting that overall, the state is a relatively safe place to live and work. O’Fallon, Missouri; Mission Viejo, California; Ramapo, New York; and Newton, Massachusetts also made the top-five list.
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In Colorado, the sentences for all criminal convictions are determined by what “class” the crime falls into. There are six classes, with Class 1 crimes being the most serious – and carrying the heaviest penalties – while Class 6 crimes are the least serious. Each class lists a minimum and a maximum possible sentence, along with minimum and maximum parole times.

However, in some situations, a person convicted of a crime in Colorado might face a heavier sentence than the one listed for the class. This may occur if the crime for which the person is convicted is known as an “extraordinary risk” crime. As of 2011, Colorado had classified the following convictions as “extraordinary risk”:
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arrested_5586209l.jpgA Colorado felony is any crime for which a person convicted may be sentenced to one year or more of incarceration. A felony sentence may also involve other requirements like fines, community service, and probation or parole. While the type of sentence a person may face depends on the facts of his or her conviction, the Colorado Legislative Council (CLC) offers several statistics that give an overview of felony sentencing in Colorado.

First, the CLC found that approximately 48 percent of people who receive a Colorado felony conviction are sentenced to probation. One-third, or 33 percent, are given prison sentences, about 5 percent serve jail sentences, and about 3 percent are sentenced to community corrections. Overall, the number of people sent to Colorado prisons has decreased in the past few years as other options, like community corrections, have become available.
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After a person is convicted of a Colorado felony crime, the court will usually impose a sentence. Colorado sentencing law is complex and it often requires the court to consider the individual facts of the case and the life circumstances of the person being sentenced.

While Colorado felony sentencing is based on the six categories of felonies that dictate a minimum imprisonment length, the amount of time a person convicted of a felony might spend in jail or prison is lengthened if the court finds the conviction falls into one of five “special sentencing” categories.
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A federal analysis of data collected from all fifty U.S. states, including Colorado, found that while the number of adults convicted of felonies each year has increased overall in the United States, the percentage of those people who are required to serve a jail or prison sentence has actually gone down, according to a report released by the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The report, which is based on data gathered in 2006, found that 1,132,290 adults faced a felony conviction in the U.S. in 2006. This number represents over 302,000 more people than were faced with a felony conviction in 1990. However, in 1990, 71 percent of those who were convicted of felonies in the United States were sent to prison as part or all of their sentence. By 2006, however, that number had decreased to 61 percent as states and local courts found different ways to penalize those who received felony convictions without actually sending those people to prison.
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In Colorado, “vehicular assault” is a felony, and serious penalties may be imposed on a person who is convicted of committing the crime. A vehicular assault conviction in Colorado may be based on either one of two different parts of the vehicular assault law. These are:

“If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and this conduct is the proximate cause of serious bodily injury to another, such person commits vehicular assault,” or “If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, and this conduct is the proximate cause of a serious bodily injury to another, such person commits vehicular assault. This is a strict liability crime.”
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Colorado’s criminal laws include instructions for sentencing people who are convicted of violating any of the criminal statutes. Most Colorado crimes are organized into one of six classes, with Class 1 felonies being the most serious and Class 6 being the least serious. The law sets a maximum amount of prison time a court can impose, depending on which class the conviction falls into. Judges can add time to the maximum sentence, however, if Colorado law defines the crime as an “extraordinary risk crime.”

An “extraordinary risk crime” is one that, according to the Colorado legislature, “present[s] an extraordinary risk of harm to society.” Some of the crimes that fall into this category are armed robbery, child abuse, selling illegal drugs, and “any crime of violence.” If a person is convicted in court of an extraordinary risk crime, the maximum prison sentence may be increased by six months to four years, depending on the class the crime falls in. The person who is convicted of an extraordinary risk crime may also be required to pay heavy fines and other penalties in addition to a prison sentence.
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Oftentimes, a long-time convict falls back into crime, and subsequently prison, after they have been released on parole. According to The Denver Post, this is usually because they reconnect with former criminal associates. A new prison program, however, encourages and requires certain associations between convicted felons in order to help them prepare for and maintain a crime-free life once they have been released.

This pilot program, called the “Lifetime Offender Program” (LTOP), created by the Department of Corrections, currently has twelve long-term prisoners enrolled. The dozen prisoners, which include habitual criminals and murderers, were selected from a pool of 400 applicants from across Colorado. In order to qualify for the LTOP, prisoners must have been imprisoned for at least 15 years, are at least 45 years old, are discipline free, and are within six years of their mandatory parole release.
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Although serious crime in Colorado Springs had been steadily declining in recent years, 2010 marked an abrupt increase in serious crime reports from 2009. According to a news report in The Gazette, serious crime rose 12 percent from 2009 to 2010 and the number of crimes solved fell nearly 4 percent.

Serious crimes such as auto theft, burglary, robbery, aggravated assault, larceny, and homicide rose anywhere from just less than one percent to 21 percent. These increases do not compare to that of the increase in the number of Colorado Springs police officers assaulted. In 2009, 29 officers were assaulted, but in 2010, that number rose by 59 percent to 46 reported cases.
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