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Photo Of Kyle B. Sawyer

Charged With A Crime? It Doesn’t Mean You’re Guilty.

Prohibited Use of Weapons – Broadly Set to Curtail Constitutional Guarantees

On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2015 | Prohibited Use of Weapons |

From Yuma County west to Denver County, and from Denver County west to Mesa County, our legislature has passed a broadly written law called Prohibited Use of Weapons, C.R.S. 18-12-106. It appears that behind the scenes, efforts are being made under this law to limit the freedoms citizens enjoy to possess firearms. Read more about the problems with Prohibited Use of Weapons.

How the Provisions of Prohibited Use of Weapons Restrict Our Freedoms

There are four main ways to violate this law. First, if a person “knowingly and unlawfully aims a firearm at another person.” I agree people should not go around aiming their guns at others. But, what if they have a good reason, like in self defense or to show others they are armed. Guns are not evil. They are a tool, just like a knife, which is capable of killing someone. In many cases, their use is completely justified.

Second, if someone “recklessly or with criminal negligence discharges a firearm or shoots a bow and arrow.” In Arapahoe and Douglas County, the key to this subsection is the terms “recklessly” and “criminal negligence”. The definition of Reckless can be found under C.R.S. 18-1-501, and provides “consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur or that a circumstance exists.” Criminal Negligence is defined as: “when, through a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise, he fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur or that a circumstance exists.” Unfortunately, these definitions are “after the fact” definitions. That means that you don’t know if you meet them until after you are charged and people look back with 20-20 hindsight and accuse you of violating the law. They take your gun and arrest you without knowing the law well.  In many instances, your identical conduct could have been safe for 10 years doing the same thing. Then, someone is accidently hurt and you are all of the sudden deemed to have been acting recklessly or with criminal negligence. It is not fair to charge someone with a crime which they did not know they were committing, or if the victim is to blame for their own injury.

Third, “he knowingly sets a loaded gun, trap, or device designed to cause an explosion upon being tripped or approached and leaves it unattended by ta competent person immediately present. This seems pretty clear so I won’t go into details of this section.

Fourth, the person charged “has in his or her possession a firearm while the person is under the influence of intoxicating liquor or of a controlled substance.” What does this mean to the average person? Probably that they can’t have a gun in their hands or on their person (like in a holster) when they are drunk. But what does it mean to the three thousand police officers and sheriff’s deputies across Colorado? Sometimes it means no gun on your person when you are drunk. Sometimes it means no gun in your house if you’ve been drinking at all. Sometimes it means no alcohol at all at a gun range. Do you see the problem? The law’s lines are hard to predict. How far can the gun be from you before you possess it?  What does it mean to be “under the influence”? Yet, the police don’t wrestle with such fine details – they just charge you and me with the crime and let the jury sort it out. So, thousands of men and women are charged with Prohibited Use of a Weapon in Jefferson and Adams County over a given year. They are forced to spend their savings and try to avoid a criminal conviction. In many cases, police try and take the guns used by our clients.

Call a Friend to Save Your Gun Rights

As you can see, this law is susceptible to many different interpretations by law enforcement officers across Colorado. To protect your gun rights, you need to remain silent and not help the officers prosecute you. Next, call the best Prohibited Use of Weapons defense lawyers at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.