H. Michael Steinberg has over 32 years experience practicing Colorado criminal law. Mr. Steinberg strives to stay current with the ever changing aspects of criminal law issues and updates resulting in his extensive knowledge of successful criminal defense as well as appellate work. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Association, the Colorado Trial Lawyer's Association, and the Colorado and Arapahoe Bar Associations.
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Drug Crimes in Colorado – The Hidden Compassion Of Colorado’s “In Need Of Treatment” Statute

Once in a great while, the Colorado State Legislature gets it right. Addiction is a disease and compassion is the treatment. Many years ago in Colorado, a law was enacted that gives the judge in a case more power than the prosecutor in drug USE cases. The law, printed below, conveys the authority on a Colorado Judge to find a defendant to be “in need of treatment.”

Upon making that finding, the Court can trump the prosecutor’s power and create what is commonly known as a deferred judgment plea bargain – even over the objection of the prosecutor. Upon successful completion of the deferred judgment, usually meaning drug rehabilitation programs, thelaw mandates the dismissal of the case. It is then eligible to be sealed immediately!

Here is the Law:

Unlawful Use of a Controlled Substance (18-18-404)

(a) Except as is otherwise provided for offenses concerning marihuana and marihuana concentrate in sections 18-18-406 and 18-18-406.5, any person who uses any controlled substance, except when it is dispensed by or under the direction of a person licensed or authorized by law to prescribe, administer, or dispense such controlled substance for bona fide medical needs, commits:

(I) A class 6 felony, if the controlled substance is listed in schedule I or II of part 2 of this article;
(II) A class 1 misdemeanor, if the controlled substance is listed in schedule III, IV, or V of part 2 of this article.

When any person is found guilty of a violation of subsection (1) of this section, after trial or upon a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, the court shall conduct an investigation to determine whether or not the defendant is:

(a) Addicted to a controlled substance;
(b) In need of treatment for the use of a controlled substance; or (c) Dependent on a controlled substance.

If the court determines that the defendant is addicted to, a person in need of treatment for, or dependent upon a controlled substance, the court may declare the defendant a person in need of treatment, and the court, without imposing sentence and with the consent of such person, shall suspend further proceedings, shall order the person to participate in a treatment program, and shall order such other reasonable conditions for such person as it may require for such period, not to exceed four years, as the court may prescribe. Upon any violation of a condition of the treatment order, the court may impose sentence and proceed as otherwise provided by law.

The court, in its discretion, may dismiss the proceedings against such person and discharge him or her from treatment before the expiration of the period prescribed for the treatment. If, during the period of this treatment, such person does not violate any of the conditions set forth by the court, the court, upon the expiration of such period, shall discharge such person and dismiss any further proceedings against him or her. Such discharge and dismissal shall not be termed a conviction for the purposes of disqualification or disapproval imposed by law upon conviction of a crime, including the penalties prescribed by law for second or subsequent convictions or for any other purpose.

In addition to any other penalty imposed by this section, upon each conviction, entry of plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or receipt of a deferred sentence for a nonfelony violation of this section or adjudication as a delinquent for an act that would constitute a nonfelony violation of this section if committed by an adult, any driver’s permit or minor driver’s license held by the offender shall be suspended as provided in section 42-2-127.3, C.R.S.