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Drug Distribution Crimes, Criminal Charges and Penalties

All drug crimes are divided into classes. Distribution charges are always felonies, and are classified as DF1, DF2, DF3, or DF4. The “DF” means “Drug Felony.” Distribution is prohibited by the same statute that prohibits manufacturing, dispensing, or selling controlled substances.

Convictions for distribution of drugs can carry heavy prison sentences. A conviction for a DF1 offense carries a mandatory 8-year prison sentence, or as much as 32 years. It also carries a maximum one million dollar fine. From DF2 down, there is no mandatory prison, however, judges don’t look kindly on defendants who stand convicted of dealing drugs, and there is always a risk of incarceration. While the courts may show leniency with those who merely possess and use the drugs, those that sell them often pay a heavy price at sentencing.

Level One Drug Felony

A person commits a Level One Drug Felony (DF1), and faces mandatory prison, if they distribute any material that weighs:

More than 225 grams if the material contains a schedule 1 or schedule 2 controlled substance
More than 112 grams if it contains methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine or cathinones
More than 50 grams if it contains flunitrazepam

It is also a Level One Drug Felony to distribute ANY quantity of a schedule 1 or schedule 2 controlled substance to a minor (if the adult that distributes the drug is at least 2 years older than the minor). As stated above, the minimum mandatory sentence for this offense is 8 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.

Level Two Drug Felony

It is a Level Two Drug Felony to distribute any material that weighs:

Between 14 and 225 grams, if the material contains a schedule 1 or schedule 2 controlled substance
Between 7 and 112 grams, if the material contains methamphetamine, heroin, ketamine or cathinones

It is also a Level Two Drug Felony to distribute ANY quantity of a schedule 3 or schedule 4 controlled substance to a minor (if the adult is at least 2 years older than the minor).

Level Three Drug Felony

It is a Level Three Drug Felony to distribute any material that weighs:

14 grams or less and the material contains a schedule 1 or schedule 2 controlled substance
7 grams or less and the material contains meth, heroin, ketamine, or cathinones
More than 4 grams and contains a schedule 3 or schedule 4 controlled substance

Distribution of Drugs while Sharing

Crimes of drug distribution that would otherwise be charged as a Level Three Drug Felony, may only be charged as a Level Four Drug Felony if they were distributed for the purpose of sharing use of the drugs. The conditions that must be met for it to be a level four offense are:

The distribution has to be for the purpose of sharing the use of the drugs at “a time substantially contemporaneous” with the transfer of the drugs.
The transfer of drugs has to involve 4 grams or less of a schedule 1 or schedule 2 controlled substance, or 2 grams or less of meth or heroin.

For example, if you are sharing drugs with a friend at a concert, you may escape being charged with a Level Three Drug Offense, and instead be charged with a Level Four Drug Offense if it is a small amount that was intended to be completely consumed on that occasion.

As you can see, meth and heroin are treated more seriously than other drugs. It requires distribution of a smaller quantity of meth or heroin to ramp up the severity of resulting criminal charges.

Manufacturing Drugs

Excluding marijuana cases, the most common manufacturing cases in Colorado involve methamphetamine. The same statute that prohibits distributing drugs is also the statute that prohibits manufacture. The level of drug felony that will result for manufacturing is based on the same weights and contents as listed above.

Penalties for Distribution or Manufacturing Drugs

The chart below shows the possible penalties for these offenses:

Please call our office if you are facing a drug charge. Mr. Churchill will answer any questions you have about the possible penalties involved.