COLORADO HAS THREE POSSIBLE TIME REDUCTIONS TO A PRISON SENTENCE April 2021 – By Peter B. Albani
If his client faces a prison sentence, an Attorney will want to determine what time reductions may be available against the sentence. This is not necessarily an easy task.THE COLORADO SYSTEM
In Colorado, trying to determine the length of time your client will actually serve in prison is not easy. With a Colorado state prison sentence, the sentencing term imposed by the judge, and the time actually served in prison by the client are not necessarily the same thing.There are three possible time reduction considerations.
The general rule of time computation and reduction is that a felony defendant will be eligible to meet the parole board for parole release consideration after
(1) serving 50 percent of the sentence,
(2) less earned time (not to exceed 30 percent of the sentence) and
(3) less any presentence confinement credit.
A DOC inmate may not be released from prison until he reaches his PED. A Colorado Attorney will want to try and determine a realistic parole eligibility date (PED) for a client who is actually sentenced to the Colorado Department of Corrections or DOC. An Attorney would be wise to check with a DOC time computation consultation for assistance with this task.
PAROLE IS NOT GUARANTEED
Keep in mind however, that even if the inmate reaches his PED, this does not mean that parole is assured. The Parole Board can deny to grant parole to an inmate for many reasons.
The 50 % Rule – 50% Time Reduction
Under C.R.S. 17-22-403, many (but not all) inmates in Colorado will be eligible for parole when they have served 50%of the sentence imposed by the Court.
As a general rule, an inmate who is sent to prison on a run-of-the-mill non-violent felony may have his sentence reduced by half as a result of the 50% rule.
The rule is not automatic. Disciplinary violations, infractions and other considerations can affect this rule.
SEX OFFENSES ARE EXCLUDED FROM TIME REDUCTION RULES
Also, this 50% rule does not apply to prison sentences arising out of the vast majority of sex offenses. See C.R.S. 17-22-403 (2) (b).
EXAMPLE ONE: So let’s assume that on April 1, 2021, our fictional client, DEF, is sentenced to prison for 8 years on a rather common, non-violent felony such as theft, destruction of property, or possession of drugs.
As a general rule, if DEF obeys the prison rules and does not pick up any disciplinary violations, or infractions, his sentence can be reduced by 50% (4 years) under this rule alone. Thus under the 50% rule, he might expect to be eligible for release on parole as of April 1, 2025.
The 75% Rule – 25% Time Reduction
Colorado also has a 75% rule.
Under C.R.S. 17-22-403 (2.5), A Colorado inmate who was convicted of a crime of violence, or crime against a child, or various other crimes will not be eligible for parole under the 50% Rule. Also, if the inmate has a criminal history showing a crime of violence, or a crime against a child, or a weapons or similar offense, he will not be eligible for the 50% time reduction.
Rather, these inmates may be considered for parole when they have served 75% of the sentence imposed by the Court. In these situations, the inmate may receive a 25% deduction off their prison sentence.
The 75% rule generally applies to serious offenses such as second degree murder, serious assault, kidnapping, arson, burglary, robbery, and others. Again, it is also applied if the inmate has a prior history of violence, or crimes against children.
AGAIN, SEX OFFENSES ARE EXCLUDED
Also, the 75% rule like the 50% rule does not apply to prison sentences arising out of the vast majority of sex offenses. See C.R.S. 17-22-403 (2) (b).
EXAMPLE TWO: So let’s assume that on April 1, 2021, our fictional client, DEF, is sentenced to prison for 16 years on a violent felony such as robbery or aggravated assault. As a general rule, if DEF obeys the prison rules and does not pick up any disciplinary violations, his sentence can be reduced by 25% (4 years) and he might expect to be eligible for release under this rule on parole as of April 1, 2033.
EARNED TIME DEDUCTIONS
Under C.R.S. 17-25-405, an additional deduction may be available which can further lessen the actual time served on a prison sentence. This is the called the “earned time deduction”.
If the inmate cooperates with the DOC and takes parts in various programs, he may earn an additional deduction off his sentence. The earned time deduction is generally up to ten days of each month actually served, not to exceed 30 % of the sentence.
Earned time is not automatic, nor is guaranteed. The inmate has to earn this deduction.
The inmate may receive earned time for performing:
work related activities
progress in DOC
compliance with DOC rules and regs
no harassment of the victim or family
progress in literacy and education programs.
EXAMPLE THREE: So let’s look at example one where DEF received 50% off his theft sentence of 8 years.
DEF may also receive an additional deduction against his sentence of up to ten additional days each month (not to exceed 30% of his sentence).
As a general rule, the DOC has determined that if DEF receives a 50% time deduction, and also receives an earned time deduction, he may be eligible for release on parole after serving approximately 38% of his sentence.
THERE IS NO ONE SIZE FITS ALL
Keep in mind that each individual defendant and each individual case can be different. There is no one size fits all.
VIOLENT CRIMES ARE EXCLUDED
Earned time is generally not available to defendants who are serving a crime of violence sentence or who have a prior history of violence. Earned time may not be available if the crime involved children, minors, or at-risk victims. THE DOC generally decides if earned time is available.
SEX OFFENSES ARE EXCLUDED FROM EARNED TIME REDUCTION
Furthermore, the earned time deduction is not available to a host of crimes including almost all sex offenses and sex related offenses.
These offenses include such crimes as sexual assault, sexual assault on a child, enticement, luring, soliciting, pandering, procurement, keeping a house of prostitution, pimping, weapons offenses, explosive and incendiary device offenses, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, crime against at-risk victims, and others.
A Colorado inmate may receive pre-sentence confinement credit under C.R.S. 18-1.3-405. A person who is confined for an offense prior to the imposition of sentence for said offense, is entitled to credit against such sentence for the entire period of confinement.
EXAMPLE FOUR: So let’s look again at examples one and three. In addition to receiving the 50% Rule deduction, and the additional earned time deduction, DEF may be eligible for a third deduction credit.
Assume that prior to being sentenced, DEF was unable to make bond and sat in the County Jail for 90 days. At sentencing, the Court granted DEF 90 days pre-sentence confinement credit. Upon arrival at DOC, the department will subtract the 90 days from the sentence.
The Attorney and his client will want to keep in mind, that these possible time reduction rules may or may not apply to the client, his case, the specific charges, etc. If these reductions do apply however, a client can obtain a significant time reduction against his sentence.