Unlawful Possession of a Weapon on School Grounds
(Colorado 18-12-105.5 C.R.S.)

sign reading "gun free school zone"

Possession of a gun, knife or other weapon at school

It is a felony under section 18-12-105.5 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) to knowingly possess a deadly weapon on the grounds of any public or private school.

Consequences of possessing a deadly weapon on school grounds can include:

  • 1 – 1 ½ years in prison (with one year mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of up to $100,000.

These penalties for possessing a weapon on school grounds are separate from and in addition to any punishment for using the weapon or committing another violation of Colorado gun laws or any other crime while in possession of the weapon.

To help you better understand the consequences of possessing a weapon at a school, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss, below:

upset boy holding gun in hands

1. What does 18-12-105.5 C.R.S. prohibit?

Section 18-12-105.5 C.R.S. of the Colorado criminal code makes it a crime to knowingly possess a deadly weapon on the grounds of any public or private:

  • elementary school, 
  • middle school, 
  • junior high school, 
  • high school,
  • vocational school,
  • college, 
  • university, or 
  • seminary.

1.1. Colorado's definition of a “deadly weapon”

For purposes of Colorado 18-12-105.5 C.R.S., a “deadly weapon” is defined as:

  • A firearm, whether loaded or unloaded; or
  • A knife, bludgeon, or any other weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, whether animate or inanimate, that, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is capable of producing death or serious bodily injury.1

1.2. The legal definition of “knowingly”

A person acts “knowingly” with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he is aware that his conduct is of such nature or that such circumstance exists.2

So you act knowingly under 18-12-105.5 C.R.S. when you know that you possess an item on school grounds, even if you don't know that it meets the Colorado legal definition of a deadly weapon.

1.3. Who may lawfully possess a deadly weapon on school grounds?

A person may lawfully possess a gun or other deadly weapon on school grounds if:

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • The person is a school resource officer or a peace officer carrying a weapon in conformance with the policy of the employing agency; or
  • 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; or
  • The person, at the time of carrying a concealed weapon, held a valid written permit to carry the concealed weapon AND:
    • The weapon remains in the permittee's vehicle and, if the permittee is not in the vehicle, the weapon is in a compartment within the vehicle and the vehicle is locked; or
    • The permittee is employed or retained by contract by a school district or charter school is a school security officer who is on duty; or
    • The permittee has a concealed handgun on undeveloped real property owned by a school district that is used for hunting or other shooting sports.

2. Penalties for possessing a deadly weapon at a school

Unlawful possession of a deadly weapon at a school is a Colorado class 6 felony. Punishment for possessing a deadly weapon on school grounds can include:

  • 1 – 1 ½ years in prison (with one year mandatory parole), and/or
  • A fine of $1,000-$100,000.

3. Defenses to possession of a deadly weapon at a school

You are not guilty under 18-12-105.5 C.R.S. unless the weapon was deadly and you knowingly brought it onto school grounds.

So common defenses to possessing a weapon on school grounds often include:

  • You possessed a small, legal knife (such as a pocket knife) but did not intend to use it as a weapon;3
  • You didn't know you had the weapon on you;
  • You didn't know you were on school grounds;
  • The weapon was lawfully in your car at all times;
  • You were lawfully permitted to bring the weapon onto school grounds; 
  • You didn't know you had the weapon due to diminished capacity / insanity; or
  • The weapon was discovered during an illegal search and seizure in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.

Call us for help…

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Innocent people often get charged with carrying a gun on school grounds simply because they forgot they had the weapon. Others mistakenly believe their weapon is not prohibited, or that their need for self-defense is an exception. And yet that one mistake is enough to get them sent to prison or juvenile hall.

Whatever the reason, we will listen and present your side of things to the prosecutor and, if necessary, the jury.

If you have been accused of violating Colorado's gun, knife or other weapons laws, we invite you to contact us for a free consultation. One of our caring Colorado defense attorneys will respond quickly to interview to help you begin planning your defense.

To reach us simply fill out the confidential form on this page. Or call us at our Denver home office:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202

Legal resources:

  1. 18-1-901 (3)(e) C.R.S.
  2. 18-1-501 (6) C.R.S.
  3. See People ex rel. J.W.T., App.2004, 93 P.3d 580, rehearing denied.

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