In Colorado, felony murder is listed as a subsection in the state’s second degree murder statute. (Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann.§ 18-3-103).

Prosecutors can charge and convict any person of second degree murder without having to prove that they intended to cause another person’s death. Prosecutors must only prove that a person or an accomplice committed or attempted to commit another specified felony and that a death occurred “in furtherance of the crime…of immediate flight therefrom.

In Colorado, people charged with felony murder can also raise an “affirmative defense” that they weren’t the one who committed the killing, weren’t armed, and “had no reasonable ground to believe” that another participant was armed, or “intended to engage in conduct likely to result in death or serious physical injury.” Individuals must also put forward evidence that they “[e]ndeavored to disengage … from the commission of the underlying crime or flight.” There is no possibility in Colorado for a person charged with felony murder to raise an affirmative defense–i.e. that he or she acted under duress, that they weren’t armed and had no reason to believe another participant was armed or intended to engage in conduct likely to result in death.

A conviction for felony murder carries a minimum of 16 years and a maximum sentence of 48 years incarceration.


Race and Conviction Rate

In Colorado, you are 19.452 times more likely to be convicted of felony murder if you are Black than if you are white.

Black 19.452x

Disproportionate Representation

While Black individuals only account for 5% of Colorado’s population


they make up 18% of all incarcerated people


and 35% of those incarcerated for felony murder.


In total, there were 176 persons incarcerated for felony murder in Colorado at the time of this finding. Furthermore, there are 16 individuals incarcerated for felony murder who are younger than 18.

Data Request Process

Data Request Process Grade 3.4 / 5 (C)
Factors Supporting Grade
Request Responsiveness
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Appeal Responsiveness

*These factors track the process--i.e. the effort and obstacles--for obtaining data from individual states under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and appeals process. These factors do not measure the quality of the data; only the process of attempting to obtain the data.

How We Collected Our Data

We undertook our analysis using data findings shared in an August 2023 paper written by Professor David Pyrooz of the University of Colorado, Boulder, titled “Demographics, Trends, and Disparities in Colorado Felony Murder Cases: A Statistical Portrait.” Professor Pyrooz obtained his data through open records requests from the Colorado Department of Corrections (CDOC) and the State Court Administrator’s Office (SCAO). This data covers the time period between 1990 and 2021. Professor Pyrooz generously reviewed our analysis of racial disparities in felony murder in Colorado.

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Learn more about how you can contribute to transparency when it comes to felony murder.

This data covers the time period between 1990 and 2021.