Setting the record straight

The Denver Post reported on March 4, 2017 that Jesus Carreno received a maximum sentence of six years after pleading guilty to vehicular homicide due to reckless driving and DUI. The report is misleading, although technically correct. Vehicular homicide caused by reckless driving is a Class 4 felony, which carries with it a presumptive sentencing range of 2 to 6 years in prison. Carreno also pled guilty to DUI, which is a misdemeanor, not a felony. Although a DUI can result in jail time, that is normally suspended if the driver agrees to undergo an alcohol treatment program. 

But as we look beyond the plea bargain we note that Carreno was charged with vehicular homicide caused by driving under the influence, which is a Class 3 felony, with a presumptive sentencing range of 3 to 12 years in prison. A defendant may plead guilty to a lower charge to reduce deserved penalties, thus saving the government the expense of a trial. In Carreno’s case, he pled guilty to a Class 4 felony, thus avoiding a trial, and shaving six years off his presumptive sentence. Since he pled guilty to DUI as well as to the Class 4 felony, it is clear that had he gone to trial, he could have been found guilty of the higher Class 3 felony.

So yes, he received the maximum sentence as part of his plea bargain, but not the maximum sentence which he and his victim were entitled to receive. 

Regardless of the sentence imposed by the court, Colorado felons are routinely released from prison long before their sentence is served. Some are released to community corrections, others directly to parole.


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