Possession of a Dangerous or Illegal Weapon
Were you charged with possession of a dangerous or illegal weapon in Colorado? Or, are you looking to verify if the weapon you possess is legal to carry as per the state law? In either case, you must first understand how weapons are classified in the State of Colorado.
Which Weapons Are Legal?
You can legally obtain a permit and carry an array of weapons including revolvers, pistols, full-length firearms, etc. in permitted areas.
Which Weapons Are Dangerous and Illegal?
There are certain kinds of weapons that fall under the “dangerous weapon” and “illegal weapon” categories in the Colorado Revised Statutes (“CRS”). These weapons range from sophisticated machine guns to the rather simple brass knuckles. Here are the weapons which are “dangerous” as per Colorado’s law.
- Ballistic knife
A knife in which the blade projects out of the handle, with force, using a spring mechanism or an explosive charge.
- Firearm silencer
Any device or attachment used with a firearm to suppress its firing noise.
- Short shotgun
A shotgun having a barrel length under 18 inches (45.72 cm) or having an overall length under 26 inches (66.04 cm). This also includes those shotguns which are sawed off to reduce their barrel length to be less than 18 inches (45.72 cm).
- Short rifle
A rifle measuring less than 26 inches (66.04 cm) overall or having a barrel shorter than 18 inches (45.72 cm).
- Machine gun
A firearm which shoots more than one round, without manual reloading, on a single pull of the trigger.
A handheld weapon with a heavy material on its striking end and a shaft or a strap, to add force to the strike, on the other end.
- Metallic knuckles
A weapon, made of metal (commonly brass), worn on the knuckles to increase the damage inflicted by punches.
- Gas gun
A gun that fires projectiles which release harmful content after being shot at someone. The law also declares the projectile itself as an illegal weapon.
CRS 18-12-102: Possessing a Dangerous/Illegal Weapon in Colorado
CRS section 18-12-102 makes keeping dangerous and illegal weapons an illegal act that opens up a violator to potential penalties. When a person is found carrying a dangerous weapon as defined above, he/she may face felony charges, whereas keeping an illegal weapon would likely result in misdemeanor charges. Both misdemeanor and felony charges can result in imprisonment and fines. Let’s take a more detailed look at the penalties brought by these two charges.
What Are the Penalties for Possessing a Dangerous Weapon?
A first-time offense is punishable with 1-3 years in prison and/or a fine ranging from $1,000 to a $100, 000.
Subsequent offenses could each lead to 2-6 years of imprisonment and/or a fine between $2, 000 and $500, 000.
What Are the Penalties for Possessing an Illegal Weapon?
Possessing an illegal weapon is a class 1 misdemeanor in Colorado, which entails a fine of $500-$5,000 and/or 6-18 months in prison for offenders.
Also, it is a felony for a former felon to carry a firearm. The punishment for this depends on the person's criminal history and could include up to 6 years of imprisonment and/or a $500,000 fine. Although it goes without saying, it is still important to mention that carrying any gun without a valid license is a violation of the law. Carrying a firearm without a license could result in 1-3 years of imprisonment and/or a fine anywhere between $1,000 and $100,000.
Defenses to Dangerous/Illegal Weapon Charges
There are some instances where a defense can be offered that either reduces the severity of the potential punishment or avoids the charges entirely. Let’s dive deeper into these scenarios.
- You are carrying a dangerous/illegal weapon unknowingly
On the surface, this point might give off an impression that you would have a case to defend yourself on grounds of weapon law illiteracy, but that is simply not true. “Unknowingly” here refers to the event where you have no knowledge of carrying a dangerous/illegal weapon. For example, if someone put a dangerous/illegal weapon in your bag without your knowledge, that may operate as a defense to the charge.
- You are frisked for a dangerous/illegal weapon without a search warrant
Law enforcement needs probable cause (or a search warrant) to search your person for any dangerous/illegal weapons — they cannot base such a search upon prejudice or assumption. If you were searched for weapons without a warrant, or if the officer did not have probable cause for the search, you may have a strong defense. This is because, under the Fourth Amendment to both the Federal and State Constitutions,, you have a right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures” by law enforcement. However, in some exceptional cases, a search warrant might not be needed for frisking you. For example, while visiting a school campus, you can be legally checked without any warrant.
- Your weapon is non-operable and could not be easily fixed
You cannot be charged for possession of dangerous/illegal weapons when if the weapon is in an inoperable state which is not easily fixable. This includes instances where you might possess completely disassembled or irreparably broken weapons.
Contact An Experienced Colorado Springs Attorney Today
The above scenarios may help your case in avoiding convictions for possession of dangerous/illegal weapons, but you’ll need an experienced attorney by your side. For support with a weapons charge, contact Patterson Weaver Law today.