Possessing A Dangerous Or Illegal Weapon in Colorado

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Statute for 18 – 12 – 102 – Possessing A Dangerous Or Illegal Weapon

StatuteHere is the charge you are facing:

18-12-102. Possessing a dangerous or illegal weapon – affirmative defense

(1) As used in this section, the term “dangerous weapon” means a firearm silencer, machine gun, short shotgun, short rifle, or ballistic knife.

(2) As used in this section, the term “illegal weapon” means a blackjack, gas gun, metallic knuckles, gravity knife, or switchblade knife.

(3) A person who knowingly possesses a dangerous weapon commits a class 5 felony. Each subsequent violation of this subsection (3) by the same person shall be a class 4 felony.

(4) A person who knowingly possesses an illegal weapon commits a class 1 misdemeanor.

(5) It shall be an affirmative defense to the charge of possessing a dangerous weapon, or to the charge of possessing an illegal weapon, that the person so accused was a peace officer or member of the armed forces of the United States or Colorado National Guard acting in the lawful discharge of his duties, or that said person has a valid permit and license for possession of such weapon.

Case Law

When you look at the Statute, you may have questions about definitions of certain words or how the Colorado Court will interpret certain phrases.  To answer these questions, Defense Attorney turn to "case law."  That is, lawyers look at previous cases to determine how these words and phrases should be defined and interpreted. The best way to locate caselaw for free is to go to google scholar and search for legal opinions involving your charges from Colorado courts. Remember to talk to your attorney about any issues in your case and how the lawyer believes that the issues should be handled.


Colorado Penalties for Possessing A Dangerous Or Illegal Weapon

Penalties

The charge of Possessing A Dangerous Or Illegal Weapon, is categorized as a:

M1, for illegal weapon
F5, for dangerous weapon
F4, for subsequent offenses of possession of a
dangerous weapon

Click here to find out how much jail time is associated with this penalty.

How to Use This Information

After you have hired a Colorado Defense Attorney, you will need to sit down with him to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of your case.  To begin this process, you should think about what the prosecutor will attempt to show in order to say that you are guilty. This involves analyzing the statute language above as well as the jury instructions (which is the set of instructions that the jury will use to understand the law). This will allow you to get a better idea of how you can attack the prosecutor’s case and build your own case. So to begin, you should understand that the prosecutor will need to prove certain things beyond a reasonable doubt for you to be found guilty.  These things are called “elements”.

The jury will be notified of the elements through a set of instructions called “Jury Instructions.” The Jury Instructions will be crafted by your attorney and the prosecutor. Your Colorado Defense Attorney will mold the jury instructions to your case, adding facts that are specific to the case and omitting unnecessary parts of the instructions.

Please find the model jury instruction for Possessing A Dangerous Or Illegal Weapon below. These will be adapted by your Colorado Attorney for your case.

The elements of the crime of possessing a dangerous or illegal weapon are: 1. That the defendant, 2. in the State of Colorado, at or about the date and place charged, 3. knowingly, 4. possessed [a dangerous weapon, to wit: (insert weapon] [an illegal weapon, to wit (insert weapon)]. 5. [without the affirmative defense in instruction number _______ .] After considering all the evidence, if you decide the prosecution has proven each of the elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant guilty of possessing a dangerous or illegal weapon. After considering all the evidence, if you decide the prosecution has failed to prove any one or more of the elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you should find the defendant not guilty of possessing a dangerous or illegal weapon. NOTES ON USE Delete inapplicable bracketed material. When this instruction is used, the applicable definitions of “dangerous weapons” or “illegal weapons” must be given. Special affirmative defenses are set forth in ?18-12-102(5), C.R.S. In Re: Ape, 988 P.2d 172 (Colo. App. 1999), reversed on other grounds, 20 P.3d 1179 (Colo. 2001) (metallic knuckles are the same as brass knuckles and are an illegal weapon). People v. Vigil, 758 P.2d 670 (Colo. 1988) (a short shotgun without a firing pin is a dangerous weapon). People v. Brown, 119 P.3d 486 (Colo. App. 2005) (the offenses of possession of an illegal weapon and possession of a weapon by a previous offender merge, when the weapon is the same).

To begin the process of analyzing your case, think about your case from the perspective of the prosecutor.  Think about the facts that the prosecutor will have to prove to establish each element. Next, sit down with your CO Defense Attorney and talk about some of the legal ways that you can use to counter the prosecutor’s evidence.  Talk to your attorney about whether he thinks any of the prosecutor’s evidence can be kept out of court.  For example, if you were illegally searched, your attorney may be able to keep the things that were found, as a result of that illegal search, out of court.  Additionally, talk to your attorney about whether you have any defenses to Possessing A Dangerous Or Illegal Weapon.

Important Notes:

Don’t Forget about Immigration:

If you are not a U.S. citizen, be sure to ask your attorney whether your charges will trigger deportation if you are found guilty or plea to the charge.

Good Luck!

The information in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as the creation of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please contact an Attorney.

Written by

Nathaniel has worked in criminal law on both sides of the aisle spending time working for the prosecution as well as the defense. Most recently Nathaniel has represented individuals in violent felonies and drug cases. Prior to this work, Nathaniel handled DWIs, Domestic Violence Cases, Property Crimes, and White Collar Crimes. On the prosecutorial side, Nathaniel has most notably worked in Bosnia helping to prosecute individuals who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Bosnian War from 1993-1995. In particular, Nathaniel helped in the prosecution of military leaders who arranged for the organized murders and rapes of innocent civilians in various towns in Bosnia. Nathaniel is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Northwestern University, and Phillips Exeter Academy. Google Profile: Nathaniel Baca