POWPO, also known as Possession of a Weapon by Previous Offender, makes it illegal for convicted felons to possess firearms. The prior felony could be either as an adult offense or a juvenile felony offense, resulting in an adjudication. In these scenarios, possession does not necessarily mean ownership, but instead means actual physical control over the firearm. The question of “possession” is usually a question for the finder of fact, i.e. the jury to determine.
Juvenile Felony Adjudications Are Included
In Denver, Adams and El Paso county, this offense most commonly occurs for people who have a juvenile felony offense on their record, but did not realize a juvenile adjudication prevents them from possessing a firearm later as an adult. The notion that a juvenile offense does not have any implications once you enter adulthood is completely wrong. The POWPO statute, C.R.S. 18-12-108(3), specifically states that “a person commits the crime of possession of a weapon by previous offender if the person knowingly possesses, uses or carries upon his or her person a firearm […] subsequent to the person’s adjudication for an act which, if committed by an adult, would constitute a felony….” This statute applies to adjudications for attempt or conspiracy to commit a crime, as well.
Ignorance of the Law is No Excuse, Still
The law does not recognize as a defense that the person was not aware that it was illegal for them to possess a firearm, nor is it a defense that a person thought their juvenile record was sealed. Juvenile records are not expunged automatically, so if you have a juvenile offense, you have to petition to the Court to expunge it. In some instances, expungement may restore your rights to legally own and purchase a firearm, although that may not be the case in every instance. Always consult a criminal defense lawyer on this question.
So, if you have a juvenile record and you want to possess a firearm legally, contact our office to determine if you are eligible to own a firearm. Otherwise, if you are caught and charged with a possession of a weapon previous offender (POWPO), you risk a class 5 or 6 felony conviction on your adult record, and a prison sentence.
If you are subject to a POWPO charge in Arapahoe, Jefferson or Douglas county, or if you simply want to expunge your record to try and regain your right to possess a firearm, the attorneys at the O’Malley Law Office can help protect your rights. We are experienced attorneys, devoted solely to the practice of criminal defense. When you are accused of possessing a weapon illegally, be smart, remain silent, and consult with a lawyer. Call us today at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.
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