In Colorado and across the country, second amendment rights are always a hot button topic, but these days more than ever. As national attention turns to gun laws, state and federal courts are cracking down on weapon offenses with a vengeance.
Unfortunately, both state and federal level laws surrounding weapons charges can be complex. Colorado recognizes the second amendment right to bear arms, but it also enforces strict regulations regarding who may carry weapons and when and how they may be utilized. Additionally, a variety of circumstances may impact the gravity of weapons charges – such as whether you had a concealed carry permit or if you were previously convicted of a felony.
Regardless of circumstances, if you have been arrested or charged with any kind of crime involving a weapon in Colorado, you may be facing some of the toughest penalties in the criminal justice system. Weapons violations come in many forms, but they all carry the possibility of incarceration, heavy fines, and a life-long criminal record.
The best thing you can do after being hit with a weapons charge is to contact a seasoned Colorado defense attorney. Only an experienced weapons lawyer will know how to protect your rights when it comes to this complicated, incredibly sensitive area of the law.
A respected Denver criminal defense attorney, Jeff Weeden has defended numerous clients accused of weapons-related crimes. Contact Denver Criminal Defense Attorney, Jeff Weeden today to start exploring your legal options and building a powerful strategy for defense against your weapons charges.
Colorado Open Carry Laws
If you ask any American citizen for a shortlist of issues important to the American public, they will almost certainly include gun control near the top of that list. One hot-button aspect of gun control is the country’s open carry laws. Open carry is the right of a citizen to carry a firearm openly in a public place.
Open carry laws will vary from state to state, but Colorado’s open carry laws are some of the most gun-friendly in the country. Colorado is an open carry state, meaning that citizens may carry firearms openly, with a few caveats.
Colorado Weapons Laws: Title 18
This law permits a person to carry a firearm inside a vehicle only if the firearm is used to protect the person, the person’s property, or another person. It also permits a person to possess a handgun in an automobile, dwelling, or place of business.
If a person carries a weapon into a home, hotel room, business, or other area, the weapon must be displayed in plain view.
Local jurisdictions are not permitted to place restrictions when a person wishes to travel with a weapon.
Current and retired law enforcement officers are permitted to carry concealed handguns when they meet the law’s qualifications. These individuals are exempted from local and state laws that prohibit concealed firearm carrying.
Colorado Weapons Laws: Title 33
Under this law, a person is allowed to carry a weapon in his or her vehicle for wildlife hunting purposes.
This law restricts people, other than those who meet narrow qualifications, from possessing or controlling a firearm (with the exceptions of a revolver or pistol) inside a motor vehicle unless the firearm is not loaded.
Who Can Open Carry in Colorado?
In our state, residents aged 18 and older are allowed to carry qualifying firearms. Colorado is an open-carry state, meaning eligible residents may carry a firearm without a license, permit, or registration in most cities. One noteworthy exception is Denver, which prohibits open carry following a change in legislation in 2004.
There is no license or permit required to open carry in Colorado, but generally, Colorado open carry laws allow for any person 18 or over in good legal standing to carry firearms openly. This includes both handguns and long guns.
It is possible to obtain a permit to carry a concealed weapon in Colorado, which will allow you to carry concealed and openly in any place not otherwise prohibited by the law. There are a few restrictions as to who can receive this license: it can only be issued by the state to persons 21 or older who are not prohibited by law from carrying firearms.
Also, Colorado does not require a permit to purchase firearms or require registration for them. Therefore, if you are in good standing with the law and are legally an adult, it is relatively easy to purchase a firearm and open carry in Colorado.
Who cannot open carry in Colorado?
However, there are restrictions regarding whom may carry firearms, and which firearms they may carry. There are also some cities in Colorado that have stricter open carry laws or even completely prohibit open carry.Here is what you need to know about Colorado open carry laws, and how to avoid harsh prosecution for weapons crimes:
Colorado open carry laws prohibit some classes of people from carrying firearms, including:
- You have been convicted of or are under indictment for:
- a felony
- an attempt to commit a felony
- a domestic violence misdemeanor
- You are addicted to a controlled substance or chronically abuse alcohol to the point of impairment
- The state holds a protective order against you that forbids the possession of weapons
- You received a dishonorable discharge from the military
- You are in the country illegally or in the U.S. under a non-immigrant visa
- You have renounced your American citizenship
- Minors under the age of 18, if the firearm carried is a handgun
- Any person who is subject to a Colorado protective order that prevents possession of firearms
- Residents of other states that do not have gun-reciprocity with Colorado, meaning they are not a resident of a state that recognizes the Colorado gun permits of Colorado residents
Where am I allowed to open carry in Colorado?
In addition to prohibiting certain individuals from owning a gun, Colorado also prohibits carrying a weapon in particular places. For example, firearms are strictly forbidden on school premises and in certain government buildings. Similarly, Colorado prohibits specific types of firearms, including shotguns and rifles.
When you are looking at open carry laws in any state, you will notice that many of them allow open carry in any location where open carry is permitted. In Colorado, this means that you are not allowed to open carry in places like:
- Federal property, such as the courthouse or the airport
- A public transportation facility. However, you are allowed to carry guns that are not loaded
- The grounds of public and private schools and universities
- Any local business or organization that prohibits firearms. It will be up to the individual business or organization to clearly denote on their entryway that they prohibit firearms.
- Denver, or other municipalities that prohibit open carry. Colorado is a “home rule” state, meaning that local governments have the right to make laws for and control their individual governments
Denver’s Open Carry Laws
Though Colorado is relatively permissive when it comes to open carry laws, Denver is trending towards a more tourist and business-friendly atmosphere and has completely outlawed the open carry of firearms and the unlicensed open car carry of firearms. At least one of Denver’s suburbs, Castle Rock, has also prohibited open carry.
Openly carrying a firearm in Denver, or carrying a firearm in your car without a license, will result in weapons charges in Colorado.
Can I open carry in Colorado National Parks and Forests?
Colorado open carry laws are slightly different with regard to National Parks and Forests and can be relatively complex.
Colorado’s National Parks and Forests are a popular destination for outdoorsmen, so it follows that many would want to carry firearms for recreational purposes. But national parks are also federal property, meaning there are a few restrictions in place.
Colorado Open Carry Laws: National Forests
Generally, firearms are allowed in national forests in Colorado, so long as they are not discharged within 150 yards of an occupied area, near a road, or in a manner deemed dangerous to other people or property.
Colorado Open Carry Laws: National Parks
With regard to national parks, Colorado open carry laws also prohibit open carry in any buildings that could be described as federal facilities where there are federal employees present. This usually encompasses the national parks:
- Visitor centers
- Administrative offices
- Maintenance buildings
Buildings that fall under this category will be clearly marked at their entrance.
What You Can’t Do with Weapons in Colorado
In Colorado, you cannot lawfully commit these acts:
- Carry a weapon on school grounds, in secure airport areas, in many public buildings, or while riding on a snowmobile without a permit.
- Discharge a weapon inside National Forest areas when within 150 yards of an occupied area, campsite, building, residence, or developed recreation site.
- Discharge a weapon inside National Forest areas when shooting across a Forest Development road or body of water.
- Discharge a weapon inside National Forest areas while placing another person or property at risk for damage or injury.
- Discharge a weapon within or into a cave.
- Possess a weapon while inside a National Forest visitor center, maintenance building, or administrative office.
If you are traveling to Colorado from another state, you can lawfully carry a concealed weapon with a permit as long as your state recognizes Colorado’s permits for concealed weapons. You are not required to register a gun in Colorado.
Punishable Colorado Weapons Charges
Due to the complexity of Colorado gun laws, there are a huge variety of behaviors that may qualify as a weapons crime. Some of the most common weapons charges in this state include:
- Illegal discharge of a weapon. This offense generally involves knowingly or recklessly discharging a firearm into a building or motor vehicle that is occupied by a person. Under Colorado law, illegal discharge of a weapon is considered a felony.
- Unlawful concealed weapon carrying.
- Use or possession of incendiary devices or their components.
- Possessing a dangerous weapon. In Colorado, it is a felony to possess certain types of dangerous weapons. Dangerous weapons include short shotguns, short rifles, machine guns, firearm silencers, and ballistic knives.
- Unlawfully providing a weapon to a juvenile.
- Possessing an illegal weapon. Possession of illegal weapons is a misdemeanor offense. Colorado considers illegal weapons to include switchblade knives, metallic knuckles, gravity knives, gas guns, and blackjacks.
- Unlawful possession of weapons at a school, college or university.
- Possessing a weapon as a previous offender. In this state, it is considered a felony to possess a weapon if you have been convicted of or pleaded guilty to a felony or attempted felony.
- Unlawful use of a stun gun.
- Violating a local ordinance regarding firearms in private vehicles.
- Possessing a handgun as a minor. Except in certain circumstances, it is illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to possess a handgun in Colorado. The crime of possessing a handgun as a minor is typically considered a misdemeanor in this state.
- Permitting a juvenile to use a weapon.
- Illegal purchase of firearms. This crime involves purchasing or otherwise obtaining a firearm for a person who you know or reasonably should know is prohibited from owning a firearm.
- Possessing a defaced firearm.
While the previous crimes represent some of the most common, there are many other actions that constitute a weapon crime in Colorado. Regardless of the actual offense, all weapons crimes carry the possibility of serious penalties like jail or prison time, fines, probation, and a permanent criminal record. To learn more about any charge related to a weapon that you are up against, get in touch with our office as soon as possible.
How to Beat Colorado Weapons Charges
If you have been charged with violating Colorado’s weapons laws, it’s likely that your weapon has been seized by law enforcement. You could be facing serious penalties if convicted, so you need to act right away to start building a solid defense against your charges.
Defense Strategies for a Weapons Charge in Colorado
These are some of the most common defenses a skilled lawyer may use to get your charges reduced or dismissed:
- Unlawful search and seizure – The police failed to follow protocol during your arrest.
- Second Amendment violations – Your right to bear arms is protected by the Second Amendment to the U. S. Constitution.
- Self-defense – You may have used the weapon to protect yourself.
- Defense of others – You may have used the weapon to protect another person or group of people.
- Exemption – Under certain circumstances, you may qualify for an exemption.
Remember, this is just meant as an overview of our weapons laws. There are all kinds of nuances that are important to understand – both to avoid violating the law and to fight back if you do end up getting charged with something.
Top Denver Weapons Lawyer Jeff Weeden Helps With Weapons Charges
When it comes to weapon charges in Colorado, time is of the essence. The sooner you speak to a lawyer, the sooner you can begin gathering evidence, witnesses, and expert opinions to start building your weapons crime defense. No matter the circumstances surrounding your weapons charges, only a strong, aggressive defense can protect your rights.
Trusted criminal defense lawyer Jeff Weeden is not afraid to take on even the trickiest weapons cases to protect your rights and freedom. Contact Mr. Weeden for a free initial consultation, during which he will evaluate your case and help you understand your options. Should you decide to work with him, Jeff Weeden will fight tirelessly in an effort to have your weapons charged reduced or dismissed.
Call: (720) 310-2141