Interfering with the work of a police officer or firefighter is a criminal offense. This includes using force or threats to hinder peace officers carrying out their duties, impersonating a police officer, or disarming a police officer of their firearm or stun gun. Obstructing, impersonating, or disarming a peace officer are all criminal offenses in Colorado. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. Obstructing, Impersonating and Disarming a Peace Officer in Colorado
- 1.1 What is obstructing a peace officer? C.R.S. 18-8-104
- 1.2 What is impersonating a peace officer? C.R.S. 18-8-112
- 1.3 What is disarming a peace officer? C.R.S. 18-8-116
- 2. Penalties for Obstructing, Impersonating and Disarming a Peace Officer in Colorado?
- 2.1 What are the penalties for obstructing a police officer?
- 2.2 What are the penalties for impersonating a police officer?
- 2.3 What are the penalties for disarming a police officer?
- 3. What are defenses to Colorado obstructing, impersonating, and disarming a peace officer charges?
- 3.1 Obstructing A Peace Officer Defenses
- 3.2 Impersonating A Peace Officer Defenses
- 3.3 Disarming A Peace Officer Defenses
- 4. Related Offenses
Obstruction, impersonation, and disarming a peace officer are all separate crimes in Colorado. A peace officer has the authority to enforce all laws of the state of Colorado while acting in their scope of authority.1 In Colorado, a peace officer generally includes police officers, sheriff's deputies, and state troopers. A peace officer includes a police officer in uniform, or out of uniform if they have identified themselves as a peace officer by showing their credentials.
Obstructing a peace officer is hindering, obstructing, or impairing a peace officer's ability to enforce the law or preserve the peace. Obstruction could occur through the use of violence, force, physical interference, or any obstacle. Obstruction also includes impairing the work of a firefighter, emergency medical service provider, or even a law enforcement dog. 2
Impersonating a peace officer is falsely pretending to be a peace officer and performing an act within the capacity of a peace officer.3
There are a number of reasons an individual may pretend to be a police officer. This could include trying to get access to a private event, cut through traffic, or pull over unsuspecting drivers to demand money or sexually assault a driver. Impersonating a peace officer in Colorado is a felony.
A person commits the crime of disarming a peace officer when they knowingly remove the firearm, stun gun, or other similar device of a peace officer acting under color of their official authority. 4 Disarming of a peace officer does not require the intention of using the weapon against the officer or anyone else. Taking the firearm or stun gun without consent for any reason may result in criminal charges.
There are separate penalties associated with obstructing, impersonating, or disarming a police officer. Obstruction of a peace officer is generally a misdemeanor level; however, disarming or impersonating a police officer are felony criminal offenses.
Obstructing a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical personnel is a class 2 misdemeanor offense. If a person is found guilty on this charge, they will face jail time between 3 and 12 months, and fines between $250 and $1,000.
Impersonating a peace officer is a class 6 felony offense. The penalties for a Class 6 felony conviction in Colorado include 12 to 18 months in jail and fines between $1,000 and $100,000. It may also require a mandatory parole period of 1 year.
Disarming a peace officer is a class 5 felony offense. If a person is convicted of disarming a police officer, they may face imprisonment from 1 and 3 years and fines between $1,000 and $100,000. It may also result in a mandatory parole period of 2 years.
An individual facing criminal charges for obstructing, impersonating, or disarming a peace officer may be able to raise defenses to these charges to avoid a conviction.
The crime of obstructing a peace officer relies on a person knowingly engaging in an obstructive or hindering activity. Some defenses to these charges include:
- You did not knowingly obstruct the peace officer's duties
- You did not engage in any activity that would have obstructed the peace officer's duties
- You did not physically interfere with the peace officer or firefighter
It is not a defense to obstruction charges that the peace officer was acting in an illegal manner, so long as the officer was acting “under color of his or her official authority.” Even if the officer is later shown to be in-the-wrong, it is not a defense to obstruction if the officer makes a decision in good faith based on surrounding facts and circumstances that he or she must act to enforce the law or preserve the peace.5
Possible defenses to impersonating a police officer include:
- You were not impersonating a peace officer
- You did not engage in any behavior that would constitute acting in capacity of a peace officer
For example, many people dress up as a cop for Halloween. This may not be a criminal offense because they were not performing an act to in the pretend capacity of a police officer, such as trying to arrest someone, write a ticket, or pull someone over.
Defenses to charges of disarming a peace officer may include:
- The peace officer was not in uniform, did not display peace officer credentials, and did not identify himself as a peace officer
- No attempt to disarm the officer was made
- The officer gave consent to hold the stun gun
There are other behaviors that are considered criminal offense which often arises when citizens interact with the police. These related offenses include:
- Resisting arrest
- Disorderly conduct
Resisting arrest involves knowingly preventing or attempting to prevent a peace officer (who is in uniform or who has identified as law enforcement) from effecting an arrest. This includes preventing the arrest through the use of violence, threats, or any other means which create a substantial risk of causing bodily injury to the officer or another. Resisting arrest is a class 2 misdemeanor.
Disorderly conduct is a broad offense that includes many vague violations, such as disturbing the peace, fighting, or acting recklessly in public. This includes making unreasonable noise in public, making offensive comments, gestures or displays, and displaying a firearm in public. Depending on the circumstances, disorderly conduct can be charged as a petty offense or misdemeanor.
Call us for help...
If you have been accused of obstructing a police officer, impersonating an officer, or disarming a cop, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. Our caring Colorado defense attorneys have many years of experience representing clients who have been charged with these criminal offenses. We are among the best Colorado criminal defense attorneys to call. Contact us today for a free consultation by phone or in-person or in our Denver law office.
- C.R.S. 16-2.5-101
- C.R.S. 18-8-104(1)(a)
- C.R.S. 18-8-112
- C.R.S. 18-8-116
- C.R.S. 18-8-104(2)