Obstructing a Peace Officer in Colorado

Obstruction or Obstructing a Colorado Peace/Police Officer

Colorado police accuse you of violating this law when you make them upset, interfere with their attempt to get information from you or others, or make their job harder in any respect. Many officers believe they can come into your home or onto property and that you must let them in. There is always tension between a citizen's right to be left alone and the police desire to intimidate good people into helping them.

Under Colorado Revised Statute 18-8-104, a person can be charged with obstructing police or firefighters when:

  • By using or threatening to use violence, force, physical interference or an obstacle, such person knowingly obstructs, impairs or hinders the enforcement of the penal law or the preservation of the peace, or the control or abatement of a fire, by a peace officer or firefighter, acting under color of his or her official authority.

We recently defended a gentleman accused of this crime for not opening the gate to his business property storage yard for Douglas County deputies who were investigating gunshots. Our client told the deputies that everything was fine and that their assistance was not needed. The deputies jumped his fence and arrested him for obstruction. The deputies alleged that Colorado citizens have a duty to remove obstacles placed in their way. Colorado law does not impose such a duty.

This Colorado crime is similar to the charge of resisting arrest in Arapahoe County, Douglas County, Denver County, Jefferson County and Adams County. The only difference is that the person charged with obstruction/obstructing under C.R.S. 18-8-104 is generally not the direct subject of an arrest. We see this charge in a practical sense when someone refuses to leave an area where police are making an arrest or when citizens become verbally critical of the police. The portion of the statute that reads "obstructs, impairs or hinders the enforcement of the penal law" is very much a wild card played by police if they can't think of any other law a citizen has broken. Put simply, it is a way for police to punish people for not helping them do their jobs.

When dealing with police, we recommend being respectful and keeping out of their way. Even if you don't assist the police as they request, if you remain respectful and don't physically interfere with their search or arrest, you greatly reduce the chances of your arrest under C.R.S. 18-8-104.

Penalties for Violation of C.R.S. 18-8-104 Obstruction/Obstructing Police

Obstruction/obstructing is a Class 2 misdemeanor in Colorado. That means that people convicted face the possibility of three to 12 months in a Colorado county jail. Of course, judges can and do impose probationary sentences without any jail if the offense is minor or if a person does not have an extensive criminal record.  Judges examine these factors, as well as others, in deciding what sentence to impose for convictions of C.R.S. 18-8-104 Obstruction in Denver, Arapahoe, Douglas, Weld, Adams and Jefferson counties.

The affirmative defense of self-defense may be available, and your Colorado criminal defense lawyers at O'Malley Law Office can advise you of the appropriateness of this defense and others after learning the specifics of your case. It is always advisable to come in for a free initial consultation with our lawyers to determine what defenses are available in your specific Colorado criminal case.

If you or someone you know is charged with a crime, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent and call us at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.

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