The potential consequences of weapons-related criminal charges in Colorado include prison time and fines that can reach hundreds of thousands of dollars. Because weapons charges often accompany other criminal charges, the accused may face both state and federal crimes, and penalties may be compounded.
If you or a loved one was arrested for a weapons-related charge in Colorado, the criminal defense lawyers at Wolf Law are ready to hear your story. Please call us today at 720-479-8574 or contact us online for your free consultation.
Colorado Weapons and Firearms Laws
Weapons charges are not limited to firearms alone. In fact, nearly any object can constitute a weapon in the context of criminal charges if that object is linked to other criminal charges, such as assault.
Colorado’s firearms and weapons statutes define two broad weapons categories:
- Dangerous weapons: In Colorado, it is a felony to possess a “dangerous weapon,” which includes firearms with silencers, machine guns, short shotguns, short rifles and ballistic knives (knives in which the blades are forcefully projected from the handle via a spring-loaded device or explosive charge).
- Illegal weapons: In Colorado, it is a misdemeanor to knowingly possess an “illegal weapon,” which includes blackjacks, gas guns, switchblade knives or metallic knuckles.
Intent is often an important factor in weapons-related charges. For example, an otherwise harmless object may be considered a “deadly weapon” if the object was used with the intent to cause harm.
Colorado Gun Charges
The right to own firearms comes with qualifications, and even valid gun owners can face criminal charges based on where the firearms are possessed or how they are used. Common firearms charges in Colorado include but are not limited to:
- Prohibited use of a firearm: This includes using a gun while under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, or recklessly firing a gun.
- Defacing a firearm or possession of a defaced firearm: It is illegal to remove or alter a firearm’s serial number, or to possess a firearm whose serial number has been defaced.
- Unlawful purchase of a firearm: Federal law prohibits the purchase and possession of firearms by certain people, including convicted felons. Those who purchase a firearm illegally or those who purchase a firearm for another who is not legally allowed to own a gun could face felony charges.
- Unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon: Although Colorado recognizes concealed handgun permits, firearms are not permitted in certain premises, including schools and government buildings.
- Possession of a weapon by a previous offender (POWPO): It is unlawful for a convicted felon to own, possess or carry a firearm. It is also unlawful for an adjudicated minor who was convicted of an offense that would have been a felony if committed by an adult to own, possess or carry a firearm.
- Illegal discharge of a firearm: If a person knowingly or recklessly discharges a firearm into any dwelling or occupied structure he or she could face felony charges.
Firearms charges can range from misdemeanors to felonies, and their corresponding penalties can be severe, especially if the individual has a criminal record or additional corresponding criminal charges are filed.
Penalties for Weapons-Related Criminal Charges
A firearm or other weapon change can have far-reaching consequences including incarceration and/or costly fines. A firearm or weapon charge can also limit a person’s right to own a gun in the future, job eligibility, and even housing opportunities.
Following is a list of some common firearms and weapons charges, as well as their potential punishments:
- Possession of a dangerous weapon: Class 5 felony punishable by one to three years in prison and/or a fine up to $100,000
- Possession of an illegal weapon: Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by six to 18 months in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000
- Possession of a defaced firearm: Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by six to 18 months in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000
- Unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon: Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to one year of jail time and/or a fine up to $1,000
- Possession of a weapon by a previous offender (POWPO): Class 6 felony punishable by one year to 18 months in prison and/or a fine up to $100,000
- Unlawful purchase of a firearm: Class 4 felony punishable by two to six years in prison and/or a fine up to $500,000
- Possession of a handgun by a juvenile: Class 2 misdemeanor punishable by three to 12 months in jail
Penalties typically increase for repeat offenders, crimes of violence, or when aggravating circumstances are present.
Gun Crimes in Colorado
There were nearly 6,000 violent crimes involving firearms in Colorado in 2017, and more than 5,000 violent crimes involving dangerous weapons. The same year, more than 360,000 guns were purchased in Colorado.
According to a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives report, 4,905 firearms were traced and recovered in Colorado in 2017. Not all of the firearms traced were used in crimes, but the top categories reported for firearm traces were related to possession charges and weapon offenses.
Colorado Weapons Charges Attorneys
If you’re facing weapons-related charges in Colorado, you need an attorney who understands the complex state and federal regulations that impact your case.
The Denver criminal defense lawyers at Wolf Law have extensive experience handling a broad range of criminal offenses, including those involving weapons. Our attorneys are dedicated to providing compassionate, aggressive representation for those charged with or under investigation for a crime.