Recently, we defended a man charged with both Prohibited Use of Weapons, C.R.S. 18-12-106, and Illegal Discharge of a Firearm, C.R.S. 18-12-107.5. He had accidently discharged his handgun and it went into a neighbor’s house since they shared a common wall. Because these two crimes are so similar, it was clear to me that police were stacking charges. They knew no DA was going to pursue both charges in the end, but added both in an effort to get the defendant to plead guilty to one or the other, in a plea agreement. Here is how these two charges, one a felony and one a misdemeanor gun charge, stack up in comparison to one another.
Definition of Prohibited Use of Weapons in Denver and Arapahoe County
Prohibited Use of Weapons applies to guns, bow and arrows, throwing stars or nunchaku (a/k/a numb-chucks). It is charged when someone unlawfully aims a firearm at another, recklessly or with criminal negligence shoots a firearm or bow and arrow (anywhere), sets a trap gun, has a firearm in his possession when under the influence of alcohol, or commits a crime with a nunchaku or throwing star. The gun does not need to fire under this charge – but can.
Definition of Illegal Discharge of a Firearm in Adams and Jefferson County
Illegal Discharge of a Firearm is a felony and applies only to firearms (guns), and involves the discharge of a gun into the dwelling, building or car of another. A gun or firearm must be fired for this crime to occur. “Firearm” is defined at C.R.S. 18-1-901(h). This definition encompasses guns, revolvers, rifles, handguns, shotguns and any other device capable of discharging bullets, cartridges or other explosive charges. As a class five felony, this law was drafted to reduce the occurrence of drive by shootings. Regrettably, Illegal discharge of a firearm is routinely charged in Douglas and Elbert County against men and women who have had an accidental gun discharge in their home.
Police may charge you with both of these crimes if a gun is involved and fired. How things play out in the end is up to the negotiations of your criminal defense lawyer and the district attorney. Like in the real world, some DAs hate guns and will insist on a harsh plea. In other cases, the lawyer on the other side may be fine with you pleading to a misdemeanor or getting a deferred judgment and sentence. In the case described above, we were able to get the case dismissed. Remember, every case is different – including the occurrence of the crime itself, your “victim,” your prosecutor, and your judge. It is tough to predict how a given case will come out. You need an attorney who is well versed in different options and who can motivate the DA in a favorable direction.
When police come to your home in response to a call by a neighbor for a Prohibited Use of Weapons or Illegal Discharge of a Firearm crime, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and quickly call the best criminal defense attorneys at the O’Malley Law Office. We can be reached 24/7 at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.