Police in Colorado may no longer be seeking to arrest people for possessing marijuana since the state legalized its possession in limited quantities. Nevertheless, having drugs in your possession can still result in serious trouble if police stop you. In fact, even with the legalization of pot, those convicted of drug crimes make up about ten percent of Colorado prison populations, and those with convictions for other non-violent crimes comprise over 40 percent.
If you are facing drug charges, you should know that Colorado’s sentencing guidelines may place your future at risk if a court convicts you. Based on recent studies, a conviction may mean you will spend years behind bars, depending on your circumstances.
Why the spike in convictions?
Despite the legalization of marijuana, Colorado courts have seen an increase in felony drug charges of more than 100 percent. About 75 percent of those filings were drug possession charges, and convictions for these cases are on the rise. Analysts believe that the spike in felony drug convictions is the result of police refocusing their efforts from marijuana possession to the possession of harder drugs, such as opioids and heroin. These counts carry harsher penalties, and some say they are easier to convict.
Additionally, you may have noticed more police on the streets recently. With the economy in recovery, police agencies have seen an increase in their budgets, so they have hired more police, which may also account for the high rate of arrests.
Colorado’s prison system
Facing drug crimes in Colorado without quality legal representation may be a mistake when you consider the following facts:
- Prison sentences are notoriously long, and twice as many inmates are serving life without parole currently than just ten years ago.
- Your age makes no difference. About 20 percent of those incarcerated this year were over 50.
- There are seven times the number of black inmates than white inmates in Colorado prisons.
- Convictions for drug possession among women rose 24 percent in the past year.
While the state has made numerous efforts to reform the sentencing guidelines to keep non-violent offenders out of prisons, these efforts are not always fruitful. If you are facing drug possession charges or other drug crimes, you may need medical treatment or other alternatives rather than years in prison. This is one reason why the representation of a skilled attorney may be to your advantage.