Visit Our Blog
Read Out Blog
Case Evaluation
Charged With A Crime?

Possession Of An Illegal – Dangerous Weapon Under Colorado Law – 18-12-102 and 18-12-105

By H. Michael Steinberg – Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer Defending Firearms Charges

Possession Of An Illegal – Dangerous Weapon Under Colorado Law – 18-12-102 -18-12-105  

Possession Of An Illegal - Dangerous Weapon Under Colorado Law - 18-12-102 and 18-12-105


Possession Of An Illegal – Dangerous Weapon Under Colorado Law – 18-12-102 and 18-12-105

 There is a great deal of confusion under Colorado Law as to what qualifies as an Illegal or Dangerous weapon.

What Are Colorado’s Laws Concerning Firearms?

We begin with US and Colorado Constitutional Law

 The United States Constitution states in Amendment II:

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The State Of Colorado’s Constitution contains this provision:

“The right of no person to keep and bear arms in defense of his home, person and property, or in aid of the civil power when thereto legally summoned, shall be called in question… Article II, Section 13.

To Understand Whether the Weapon You Are Carrying Is Legal Or Illegal – Begin With The Definition Sections of the Law

The following definition section should be used to compare the weapon you were carrying with descriptions of illegal weapons under Colorado criminal law.

After you have done that – you turn to the crime itself (below).

18-12-101. Definitions

(1) As used in this article, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) “Adult” means any person eighteen years of age or older.

(a.3) “Ballistic knife” means any knife that has a blade which is forcefully projected from the handle by means of a spring-loaded device or explosive charge.

(a.5) “Blackjack” includes any billy, sand club, sandbag, or other hand-operated striking weapon consisting, at the striking end, of an encased piece of lead or other heavy substance and, at the handle end, a strap or springy shaft which increases the force of impact.

(b) “Bomb” means any explosive or incendiary device or molotov cocktail as defined in section 9-7-103 , C.R.S., or any chemical device which causes or can cause an explosion, which is not specifically designed for lawful and legitimate use in the hands of its possessor.

….

(c) “Firearm silencer” means any instrument, attachment, weapon, or appliance for causing the firing of any gun, revolver, pistol, or other firearm to be silent or intended to lessen or muffle the noise of the firing of any such weapon.

(d) “Gas gun” means a device designed for projecting gas-filled projectiles which release their contents after having been projected from the device and includes projectiles designed for use in such a device.

(e) “Gravity knife” means any knife that has a blade released from the handle or sheath thereof by the force of gravity or the application of centrifugal force.

(e.5) “Handgun” means a pistol, revolver, or other firearm of any description, loaded or unloaded, from which any shot, bullet, or other missile can be discharged, the length of the barrel of which, not including any revolving, detachable, or magazine breech, does not exceed twelve inches.

(e.7) “Juvenile” means any person under the age of eighteen years.

(f) “Knife” means any dagger, dirk, knife, or stiletto with a blade over three and one-half inches in length, or any other dangerous instrument capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing, or tearing wounds, but does not include a hunting or fishing knife carried for sports use. The issue that a knife is a hunting or fishing knife must be raised as an affirmative defense.

(g) “Machine gun” means any firearm, whatever its size and usual designation, that shoots automatically more than one shot, without manual reloading, by a single function of the trigger.

(h) “Short rifle” means a rifle having a barrel less than sixteen inches long or an overall length of less than twenty-six inches.

(i) “Short shotgun” means a shotgun having a barrel or barrels less than eighteen inches long or an overall length of less than twenty-six inches.

(i.5) “Stun gun” means a device capable of temporarily immobilizing a person by the infliction of an electrical charge.

(j) “Switchblade knife” means any knife, the blade of which opens automatically by hand pressure applied to a button, spring, or other device in its handle. C.R.S. § 18-12-101

Next – Possession of an Illegal or Dangerous Weapon – The Easy Case – Certain Firearms

To understand and properly analyze the Illegal Possession Of Weapons in Colorado, as noted above, you first focus on the weapon located by the police.

If the police locate a “Dangerous Weapon” defined to mean a firearm silencer, machine gun, short shotgun (shorter than 18 inches), short rifle (shorter than 16 inches) or ballistic knife.

The crime charged is a Class 5 felony, (1-3 years in prison).

If there is a second or subsequent charge and conviction for this offense – the sentence is enhanced to a Class 4 felony ( 2 to 8 years in prison) under CRS. 18-12-102.

But if the weapon is an “Illegal Weapon” – the analysis is a little different.

Per Se – (Illegal By Definition) – Certain Weapons Under CRS 18-12-102

Most Colorado weapons charges are filed under the misdemeanor forms of the law found in 18-12-102 and 18-12-105.

The first law – 18-12-102 provides for the crime of illegal weapons – which – by the mere possession of the weapon – make it a crime to possess. Some of these are felony crimes – but most are class 1 misdemeanors.

Here is the relevant criminal law to study – 18-12-102:

§ 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.


Here is the second, and more frequently charged, crime in this category. The weapons referenced in this category are knives and firearms and the crime is because of concealment not mere possession:

§ 18-12-105. Unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon – unlawful possession of weapons

(1) A person commits a class 2 misdemeanor if such person knowingly and unlawfully:

(a) Carries a knife concealed on or about his or her person; or

(b) Carries a firearm concealed on or about his or her person; or

(c) Without legal authority, carries, brings, or has in such person’s possession a firearm or any explosive, incendiary, or other dangerous device on the property of or within any building in which the chambers, galleries, or offices of the general assembly, or either house thereof, are located, or in which a legislative hearing or meeting is being or is to be conducted, or in which the official office of any member, officer, or employee of the general assembly is located.

[HMS – The defenses to this charge ARE EXTENSIVE under this law.]

(2) It shall not be an offense if the defendant was:

(a) A person in his or her own dwelling or place of business or on property owned or under his or her control at the time of the act of carrying; or

(b) A person in a private automobile or other private means of conveyance who carries a weapon for lawful protection of such person’s or another’s person or property while traveling; or

(c) A person who, at the time of carrying a concealed weapon, held a valid written permit to carry a concealed weapon issued pursuant to section 18-12-105.1 , as it existed prior to its repeal, or, if the weapon involved was a handgun, held a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun or a temporary emergency permit issued pursuant to part 2 of this article; except that it shall be an offense under this section if the person was carrying a concealed handgun in violation of the provisions of section 18-12-214 ; or

(d) A peace officer, as described in section 16-2.5-101 , C.R.S. 18-12-105

“Concealed” means placed out of sight so as not to be discernible or apparent by ordinary observation.

A 2013 Change To Colorado Firearms Law – Illegal Weapons On School Grounds

In 2013 – the Colorado State Legislature added a new section 18-12-105.5 which created a new felony related to the Illegal carrying – possession of certain weapons on school grounds. Here is the law:

18-12-105.5. Unlawfully carrying a weapon – unlawful possession of weapons – school, college, or university grounds

(1) A person commits a class 6 felony if such person knowingly and unlawfully and without legal authority carries, brings, or has in such person’s possession a deadly weapon as defined in section 18-1-901(3) (e) in or on the real estate and all improvements erected thereon of any public or private elementary, middle, junior high, high, or vocational school or any public or private college, university, or seminary, except for the purpose of presenting an authorized public demonstration or exhibition pursuant to instruction in conjunction with an organized school or class, for the purpose of carrying out the necessary duties and functions of an employee of an educational institution that require the use of a deadly weapon, or for the purpose of participation in an authorized extracurricular activity or on an athletic team.

…..

[HMS Note the defenses are also EXTENSIVE as provided for in this law.]

(3) It shall not be an offense under this section if:

(a) The weapon is unloaded and remains inside a motor vehicle while upon the real estate of any public or private college, university, or seminary; or

(b) The person is in that person’s own dwelling or place of business or on property owned or under that person’s control at the time of the act of carrying; or

(c) The person is in a private automobile or other private means of conveyance and is carrying a weapon for lawful protection of that person’s or another’s person or property while traveling; or

(d) The person, at the time of carrying a concealed weapon, held a valid written permit to carry a concealed weapon issued pursuant to section 18-12-105.1 , as said section existed prior to its repeal; except that it shall be an offense under this section if the person was carrying a concealed handgun in violation of the provisions of section 18-12-214(3) ; or

(d.5) The weapon involved was a handgun and the person held a valid permit to carry a concealed handgun or a temporary emergency permit issued pursuant to part 2 of this article; except that it shall be an offense under this section if the person was carrying a concealed handgun in violation of the provisions of section 18-12-214(3) ; or

(e) The person is a school resource officer, as defined in section 22-32-109.1 (g.5), C.R.S., or a peace officer, as described in section 16-2.5-101 , C.R.S., when carrying a weapon in conformance with the policy of the employing agency as provided in section 16-2.5-101(2) , C.R.S.; or

(h) The person has possession of the weapon for use in an educational program approved by a school which program includes, but shall not be limited to, any course designed for the repair or maintenance of weapons.

A Cheat Sheet

Carrying a concealed weapon / unlawful possession of weapons

Class 2 Misdemeanor 3 – 12 months None $250 – $1,000

Possession of illegal weapon

Class 1 Misdemeanor 6 – 18 months None $500 – $5,000

Possession of dangerous weapon

Class 5 Felony (second offense – Class 4 Felony) 1 – 3 years 2 years $1,000 – $100,000

What is Colorado’s Open Carry Law?

Open carry is the act of publicly carrying a firearm in plain sight. The definition of ‘plain sight’ varies, but can be broadly defined as simply not being hidden from plain view.

The Most Common Question – What About Firearms In My Car?

Colorado law allows a person to carry a firearm in a vehicle, loaded or unloaded, if its use is for lawful protection of such a person or another’s person or property. Colorado law allows a person to possess a handgun in a dwelling, place of business, or automobile. However, you cannot carry the weapon concealed on or about your person while transporting it into your home, business, hotel room, etc. Local jurisdictions may not enact laws that restrict a person’s ability to travel with a weapon.

Some Helpful Links

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation:  The Colorado State Patrol:

Rocky Mountain Gun Owners:

Colorado Hand Gun Laws:

Finally – A Listing Of Colorado’s Firearms Laws and a LINK to Look Them Up

C.R.S. 18-12-101 (Definitions.)

C.R.S. 18-12-102 (Possessing a dangerous or illegal weapon-affirmative defense.)

C.R.S. 18-12-103 (Possession of a defaced firearm.)

C.R.S. 18-12-103.5 (Defaced firearms-contraband-destruction.)

C.R.S. 18-12-104 (Defacing a firearm.)

C.R.S. 18-12-105 (Unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon-unlawful possession of weapons.)

C.R.S. 18-12-105.5 (Unlawfully carrying a weapon-unlawful possession of weapons-school, college, or university grounds.)

C.R.S. 18-12-105.6 (Limitation on local ordinances regarding firearms in private vehicles.)

C.R.S. 18-12-106 (Prohibited use of weapons.)

C.R.S. 18-12-106.5 (Use of stun guns.)

C.R.S. 18-12-107 (Penalty for second offense.)

C.R.S. 18-12-107.5 (Illegal discharge of a firearm-penalty.)

C.R.S. 18-12-108 (Possession of weapons by previous offenders.)

C.R.S. 18-12-108.5 (Possession of weapons by juveniles-prohibited-exceptions-penalties.)

C.R.S. 18-12-108.7 (Unlawfully providing or permitting a juvenile to possess a handgun-penalty-unlawfully providing a firearm other than a handgun to a juvenile-penalty.)

C.R.S. 18-12-109 (Possession, use, or removal of explosives or incendiary devices-possession of components thereof- chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons-persons exempt-hoaxes.)

C.R.S. 18-12-110 (Forfeiture of firearms.)

C.R.S. 18-12-111 (Unlawful purchase of firearms.)

C.R.S. 33-6-125 (Possession of loaded firearm in a motor vehicle

33-14-117(Hunting, carrying weapons on snowmobiles-prohibitions)

Possession Of An Illegal – Dangerous Weapon Under Colorado Law – 18-12-102 and 18-12-105

At the Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law firm we are keenly aware that ANY conviction for a criminal offense can have a long term highly destructive impact on your life and your plans for your life. We know that otherwise law-abiding and respected lives can be changed forever.

Colorado Criminal Lawyer - 30 years of ExperienceMany of those we represent at our firm are young people – students, young professionals, adults in the working world who have families and many other responsibilities. H. Michael Steinberg has been a lawyer – professional in the field of Criminal Law – his entire adult working life and he knows both sides of the courtroom as a result of more than three decades of specialization.

You have to make a responsible choice for a Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – we encourage you to look at our firm. H. Michael loves every area of criminal law, procedure and trial and courtroom practice and he is passionate about getting you the best result in your case. He has written and continues to write extensively on Colorado criminal law and he hopes this article – Possession Of An Illegal – Dangerous Weapon Under Colorado Law – 18-12-102 and 18-12-105- helps you in some small way. 

 


Other Articles of Interest:

If you found the information provided on this webpage to be helpful, please click my Plus+1 button so that others may also find it.

___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
DTC Quadrant Building
5445 DTC Parkway, Penthouse 4
Greenwood Village, Colorado, 80111
Primary Web Site:  http://www.HMichaelSteinberg.com
Colorado Criminal Law Blog:  www.Colorado-Criminal-Lawyer-Online.com
Main:  303.627.7777
Cell:  720.220.2277
24/7 Pager:  303.543.4433
FAX (Toll Free):  1.877.533.6276
Always investigate a lawyer's qualifications and experience before making a
decision to retain that lawyer or, for that matter, any professional ...in any field.