Recent Changes to Criminal Law in Colorado

By R. Jake Johnson

A number of new criminal laws went into effect in Colorado on January 1, 2018, regarding a myriad of issues.  Here are a few of the recent changes in Colorado:

Driver’s License Consequences of Hit-and-Run Accidents

Starting in 2018, the Department of Revenue can suspend a person’s driver’s license if they are cited for leaving the scene of an accident. Prior to this change, a driver’s license could only be revoked after the driver was convicted of the crime. If the person’s license is suspended for a citation, as opposed to a conviction, they will have an opportunity to make a written request for review and for a hearing to obtain a probationary license. At such a hearing, there must be a preponderance of evidence that the person was the driver of the car involved in the accident and that they left the scene.

Home Grown Marijuana

Starting on January 1, Colorado now regulates the number of plants being grown in each house by residence and not by person. Previously, up to six plants were permitted for each person living in a residence that was over the age of 18. The change limits all residences to a maximum of 12 plants unless certain requirements are met for a larger amount. This law is also subject to county and city restrictions, that may limit the amount of plants per residence even further. The plants must be grown in areas that are enclosed and locked away so that minors can’t get to them.

Teenage Texting of Sexual Images

The consequences teenagers could face if they are caught texting sexual images to other juveniles has been reduced by recent changes to law. Prosecutors now have the ability to file misdemeanor charges instead of felony charges. Previously, teenagers could be charged with sexual exploitation of a child, which is a class 3 felony. The new law also does not require those found guilty to register as sex offenders. The new law also provides for for diversionary programs to help teens understand why they are being punished.

Retail Marijuana Sales

Colorado is cracking down on retail stores that sell marijuana in an effort to prevent so-called looping, where someone goes into a marijuana dispensary repeatedly during the same day to buy marijuana. The modified rules limit sales to a single transaction per person per day, whereas prior rules limited the amount of marijuana that could be sold per transaction. It also punishes the establishments that sell marijuana to people if employees know, or should reasonably know, that the person has already purchased their limit. The language of the law also changed to prohibit not the sale but the transfer of retail marijuana to people who have already purchased the legal limit.


From the February 2018 Pollart Miller Newsletter