Stun Gun Laws in Colorado

Learn about stun gun laws and possession requirements in Colorado.

Colorado’s Criminal Code defines a stun gun as well as the offense of using a stun gun during the commission of a crime. Although the use of a stun gun may result in criminal charges carrying possible jail time, a defendant may assert one or more defenses.

Stun Guns & Colorado’s Criminal Code

Colorado’s criminal code defines a stun gun as a device that dispenses an electrical charge capable of temporarily immobilizing a person.

A person commits a Class 5 felony by using a stun gun in the commission of a crime. A defendant does not have to fire a stun gun in order to be guilty of using a stun gun during the commission of a crime. The use of a stun gun is treated as a separate offense from the underlying crime. Any crime can serve as the foundation for a charge of the use of a stun gun during the commission of a crime.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-12-106.5, People v. Wheeler, 170 P.3d 817 (2007))

For example, a person who intentionally prevents another person from leaving a place can be convicted of of the crime of false imprisonment. If the person accomplishes the false imprisonment by threatening to use the stun gun if the victim attempts to flee, then the person may be convicted of both false imprisonment and the use of a stun gun during the commission of a crime. Because the false imprisonment involved the threat of force, the false imprisonment may be treated as a Class 5 felony. Therefore, under this scenario, the defendant faces two Class 5 felony charges.

Punishment for using a stun gun during a crime

A conviction for a Class 5 felony carries a maximum presumptive sentence of 18 months in prison followed by one year of mandatory parole. Under certain circumstances, a defendant may be sentenced to serve a prison sentence greater than the presumptive maximum, such as when a defendant is convicted of having committed a felony while out on bond for an earlier felony arrest that also resulted in a conviction.

A conviction may also result in a fine ranging between $10,000 and $100,000. Although a fine can be imposed in lieu of a prison sentence for some crimes, sentences for violent crimes must include at the very least the presumptive minimum prison sentence.

For offenses defined as crimes of violence (such as kidnapping and aggravated robbery), the judge may sentence the defendant to up to twice the presumptive maximum sentence.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-1.3-401, 18-1.3.406, 18-12-101, 18-3-303)

Sentencing for crimes involving deadly weapons

Neither Colorado’s statutes nor its case law directly answer the question of whether a stun gun qualifies as a deadly weapon. Colorado defines a deadly weapon as a firearm, knife, bludgeon or any other weapon or device that, as used, (or intended to be used) is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury. Whether a defendant’s use of a stun gun qualifies as a deadly weapon is important should the defendant be convicted of the underlying crime, because use of a deadly weapon is an aggravating factor that authorizes the judge to sentence the defendant to a longer prison sentence than the defendant would have faced had the crime not involved a deadly weapon.

Under Colorado law, the jury must decide whether a defendant used a deadly weapon (the judge makes this determination in a trial being conducted without a jury).

(Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-1.3.406, 18-1-901)

Defenses

A person charged with crimes related to the use of a stun gun may raise one or more defenses, depending on the case’s facts. For example, a defendant charged with use of a stun gun during the commission of a crime may argue that the device in question does not meet Colorado’s definition of a stun gun, and therefore the jury or judge (in cases tried without a jury) should find the defendant not guilty of the use of a stun gun during the commission of a crime.

Or, a defendant might not contest that the device used was a stun gun, but instead raise a justification defense. For example, a defendant charged with both menacing and the use of a stun gun during a crime might claim self-defense. The jury or judge may agree that the defendant acted in self-defense and acquit the defendant of both menacing and the use of a stun gun during the commission of a crime.

Consult with an Attorney

If you are charged with a crime involving a stun gun in Colorado, you should speak with an attorney immediately. A conviction for using a stun gun during the commission of a crime can carry prison time in addition to a fine. An attorney will explore possible defenses to the charges and file motions with the court where appropriate. Having an experienced attorney is critical to ensuring the best possible outcome when facing criminal charges.

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