Charging and Filing
In Colorado, misdemeanors (including traffic cases) and petty offenses/infractions are filed directly with the court by law enforcement. Felony cases are first reviewed by the District Attorney's (DA) Office before filing. After reviewing and accepting a felony case, prosecutors decide what type of charges to file. This section presents data on all cases for which a law enforcement agency has filed the case (misdemeanors or petty offenses/infractions) or for which the DA’s Office has decided to accept the referral and file the charges (felonies).
Why is this important? To support community safety, we want to maximize limited resources by focusing on serious crime while minimizing unnecessary punitiveness. Understanding the number and types of cases filed in the Office helps to ensure we use resources efficiently, effectively, and fairly.
The legislature changed many statutes in the last several years that has impacted the charge level that may be filed. Possession of a controlled substance was reclassified as a misdemeanor (HB - 286), the charge of escape was reclassified as a misdemeanor in certain circumstances (HB -1019), and many misdemeanor crimes were reduced, along with other crimes formerly classified as felonies, in a process that reorganized all misdemeanor crimes in Colorado (SB - 271). In 2022, the legislature addressed possession and distribution of fentanyl (HB -1326).
Below are a set of indicators that provide additional context about cases filed. These indicators help the DA's Office ensure they are prioritizing cases effectively and charging cases appropriately.
It is important to note that the DA's Office does not have direct influence on the volume of misdemeanor cases. The vast majority of misdemeanor cases are filed by law enforcement directly to the court without district attorney screening.
- Underlying data counts for each chart can be accessed through this link.
- Each case is represented once, by the top charge filed.
- Warrants are excluded (for all cases identified as a warrant).
- Cases do not map directly to criminal incidents. One incident can result in multiple arrests and cases – or multiple incidents could result in the arrest and prosecution of a single individual.
- For definitions of charge types included in the dashboard, see the full list in Technical Notes.