2021 Colorado Code
Title 18 - Criminal Code
Article 1 - Provisions Applicable to Offenses Generally
Part 1 - Purpose and Scope of Code - Classification of Offenses
§ 18-1-102.5. Purposes of Code With Respect to Sentencing

Universal Citation: CO Code § 18-1-102.5 (2021)
  1. The purposes of this code with respect to sentencing are:
    1. To punish a convicted offender by assuring the imposition of a sentence he deserves in relation to the seriousness of his offense;
    2. To assure the fair and consistent treatment of all convicted offenders by eliminating unjustified disparity in sentences, providing fair warning of the nature of the sentence to be imposed, and establishing fair procedures for the imposition of sentences;
    3. To prevent crime and promote respect for the law by providing an effective deterrent to others likely to commit similar offenses;
    4. To promote rehabilitation by encouraging correctional programs that elicit the voluntary cooperation and participation of convicted offenders;
    5. To select a sentence, a sentence length, and a level of supervision that addresses the offender's individual characteristics and reduces the potential that the offender will engage in criminal conduct after completing his or her sentence; and
    6. To promote acceptance of responsibility and accountability by offenders and to provide restoration and healing for victims and the community while attempting to reduce recidivism and the costs to society by the use of restorative justice practices.

History. Source: L. 79: Entire section added, p. 668, § 15, effective July 1. L. 2011: (1)(c) and (1)(d) amended and (1)(e) added,(HB 11-1180), ch. 96, p. 282, § 1, effective August 10; (1)(c) and (1)(d) amended and (1)(f) added,(HB 11-1032), ch. 296, p. 1402, § 5, effective August 10.


Law reviews. For article, “Colorado Felony Sentencing”, see 11 Colo. Law. 1478 (1982). For comment, “Criminal Sentencing in Colorado: Ripe for Reform”, see 65 U. Colo. L. Rev. 685 (1994).

Sentencing is a discretionary decision which requires weighing of various factors and striking a fair accommodation between the defendant's need for rehabilitation or corrective treatment and society's interest in safety and deterrence. People v. Watkins, 200 Colo. 163 , 613 P.2d 633 (1980).

Sentencing, by its very nature, is a discretionary act that is not subject to scientific precision. Flower v. People, 658 P.2d 266 (Colo. 1983).

A judge has wide latitude in reaching his decision on a particular sentence. People v. Martinez, 628 P.2d 608 (Colo. 1981).

Sentencing is a complex process which requires the exercise of the sound discretion of the sentencing judge. People v. Beland, 631 P.2d 1130 (Colo. 1981).

The discretion implicit in the sentencing decision is not an unrestricted discretion devoid of reason or principle. People v. Watkins, 200 Colo. 163 , 613 P.2d 633 (1980).

Some of the more common factors to be considered in sentencing are: The gravity of the offense in terms of harm to person or property or in terms of the culpability requirement of the law; the defendant's history of prior criminal conduct; the degree of danger the defendant might present to the community if released forthwith; the likelihood of future criminality in the absence of corrective incarceration or treatment; the prospects for rehabilitation under some less drastic sentencing alternative, such as probation; and the likelihood of depreciating the seriousness of the offense were a less drastic sentencing alternative chosen. People v. Watkins, 200 Colo. 163 , 613 P.2d 633 (1980); People v. Reed, 43 P.3d 644 (Colo. 2001).

Judge's sentencing discretion limited by general assembly. Although a judge has broad discretion in tailoring a sentence to accommodate various factors, the sentence must be consistent with legislatively imposed limits and constraints. People ex rel. Gallagher v. District Court, 632 P.2d 1009 (Colo. 1981).

In order to achieve the purposes of sentencing, the general assembly has required the sentencing court to consider and weigh, prior to the imposition of the sentence, the nature and elements of the offense, the character and record of the offender, and all aggravating or mitigating circumstances surrounding the offense and the offender, including those specifically found by the court to be extraordinary. People v. Manley, 707 P.2d 1021 (Colo. App. 1985).

Purposes of sentencing are to punish a defendant in relation to the seriousness of the offense, to assure fair and consistent treatment of all convicted offenders, to deter others likely to commit similar offenses, and to promote the defendant's rehabilitation. People v. Reed, 43 P.3d 644 (Colo. 2001).

Sentencing decision should reflect rational selection from various sentencing alternatives in a manner consistent with the dominant aims of the sentencing process. People v. Watkins, 200 Colo. 163 , 613 P.2d 633 (1980).

Proper and fair sentence is one that can be reasonably explained. People v. Watkins, 200 Colo. 163 , 613 P.2d 633 (1980).

Sentence must bear some proportionality to severity of offense for which it is imposed, notwithstanding the need for public protection. People v. Martinez, 628 P.2d 608 (Colo. 1981); People v. Piro, 701 P.2d 878 (Colo. App. 1985).

Three considerations of concern to judge when setting sentence are the need to protect society at large and deter potential offenders, to punish the convicted offender, and to rehabilitate him. People v. Bravo, 630 P.2d 612 (Colo. 1981); People v. Jordan, 630 P.2d 613 (Colo. 1981); People v. Watkins, 684 P.2d 234 (Colo. 1984).

Defendant's behavior deemed relevant factor. A defendant's behavior during judicial proceedings and while in custody may well become relevant facts for the court to consider as part of the factors it weighs in sentencing. Smith v. District Court, 629 P.2d 1055 (Colo. 1981).

Judge must consider rehabilitation needs of individual defendant. People ex rel. Gallagher v. District Court, 632 P.2d 1009 (Colo. 1981).

While rehabilitation is a preferred goal, it is only one factor which must be considered in tailoring a sentence to each individual case. People v. Jordan, 630 P.2d 613 (Colo. 1981).

Sentence must be supported by reasons in record. Hereafter in felony convictions involving the imposition of a sentence to a correctional facility the sentencing judge must state on the record the basic reasons for the imposition of sentence. The statement need not be lengthy, but should include the primary factual considerations bearing on the judge's sentencing decision. People v. Watkins, 200 Colo. 163 , 613 P.2d 633 (1980).

Particularly where sentence involves restrictive form of deprivation. Requirement that sentencing judge state on the record the basic reasons for imposing a sentence is particularly essential in those cases where the sentence involves a very restrictive form of deprivation, such as a term of confinement to a correctional facility. People v. Watkins, 200 Colo. 163 , 613 P.2d 633 (1980).

Failure to state reasons creates obstacle to appellate review. The failure of a sentencing judge to state on the record the basic reasons for the selection of a particular sentence creates a burdensome obstacle to effective and meaningful appellate review of sentences. People v. Watkins, 200 Colo. 163 , 613 P.2d 633 (1980).

Factors in appellate review of extended term of confinement. In evaluating the propriety or intrinsic fairness of an extended term of confinement, an appellate court focuses on the nature of the offense, the character of the offender and the public interest and determines whether the record establishes a clear justification for the sentence imposed. People v. Scott, 630 P.2d 615 (Colo. 1981).

No vacation or modification unless abuse of discretion. On review, an appellate court may not vacate or modify a sentence imposed by a trial court unless it appears that the trial judge clearly abused his discretion in imposing the sentence. People v. Beland, 631 P.2d 1130 (Colo. 1981).

Although judiciary has exclusive authority to impose sentences, such sentences must be within the limits determined by the general assembly which has the exclusive authority to define crimes and impose punishment. People v. Schwartz, 823 P.2d 1386 (Colo. App. 1991).

No abuse of discretion. In light of the facts and the nature of the crimes, the trial court did not abuse its discretion in imposing consecutive sentences for aggravated robbery and second degree kidnapping. People v. Fuller, 791 P.2d 702 (Colo. 1990).

Trial court did not abuse its discretion in imposing a sentence of twice the maximum presumptive range. The sentence was appropriate because the defendant had committed an especially vicious attack in violation of a restraining order, and the court gave due consideration to the defendant's rehabilitative potential and employment history. People v. Hayward, 55 P.3d 803 (Colo. App. 2002).

Because the sentence imposed was within the range required by law and was based on appropriate considerations supported by the record, trial court did not abuse its discretion in imposing an aggravated sentence. People v. Martinez, 179 P.3d 23 (Colo. App. 2007).

The trial court did not abuse its discretion in sentencing a defendant convicted of second degree murder, theft, and attempted theft to imprisonment for 45 years despite the fact the defendant tested positive for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). People v. Baca, 852 P.2d 1302 (Colo. App. 1992).

Applied in People v. Wylie, 44 Colo. App. 38, 605 P.2d 494 (1980); People v. Hostetter, 44 Colo. App. 44, 606 P.2d 80 (1980); People v. Hamling, 634 P.2d 1023 (Colo. App. 1981); People v. Phillips, 652 P.2d 575 (Colo. 1982); People v. Turman, 659 P.2d 1368 (Colo. 1983); Rocha v. People, 713 P.2d 350 (Colo. 1986).

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