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 be able 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.
There was a marked decrease in felony and misdemeanor filings in 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Several external factors have contributed to a continued decline, including a significant change in the classification of traffic and misdemeanor crimes in 2022 and cyclical economic factors such as historically low unemployment rates. Additionally, several of our communities have approved increases in funding for law enforcement agencies. The data indicates that these resources may be a contributing factor in crime reduction.
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.
Although there has been a declining trend in the number of felony cases filed with from 2020 to 2022, the data shows there has been an increase in violent crime filings of over 36% in 2021 and 11% in 2022 over pre-COVID levels.
As discussed above, the data suggests an increasing trend in the number of violent crimes filed. Our aim is to continue to prioritize violent crime and to protect public safety.
- 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.