Can a felon hunt with a crossbow in Colorado?

Posted by Neil Shouse | May 06, 2019 | 0 Comments

No. Felons in Colorado may not possess any weapons, including crossbows. Therefore, felons may not hunt with crossbows in Colorado.


Felons may not possess crossbows in Colorado.

Crossbows consist of a "prod" that is mounted perpendicularly to a "tiller." It shoots projectiles called bolts or quarrels, which are similar to arrows.

Unlike bows and arrows -- which require the user to manually pull back and hold the bowstring -- crossbows have a lock to hold back the bowstring. So all crossbow users need to do to release the bowstring is depress a trigger similar to a gun's.

Possession of a weapon by a previous offender

People convicted of a felony crime may not possess weapons in Colorado, including non-firearms such as crossbows.

Therefore, the Colorado crime of possession of a weapon by a previous offender ("POWPO") under C.R.S. 18-12-108 occurs when a convicted felon knowingly possesses, uses, or carries a weapon such as a crossbow. It makes no difference if the purpose of the possession was for hunting.

In general, a POWPO offense is a class 6 felony carrying: 

  • 1 to 1 ½ years in prison (with 1-year mandatory parole), and/or
  • a fine of $1,000 to $100,000

But a POWPO offense may be punished more harshly if the defendant's previous conviction was within the last 10 years and the conviction was for either:

  • burglary,
  • arson, or
  • any felony involving the use of force or the use of a deadly weapon (such as a crossbow)

In this case, a first-time POWPO conviction is a class 5 felony, carrying:

  • 1 to 3 years in prison (with 2 years mandatory parole), and/or
  • a fine of $1,000 to $100,000

And a subsequent conviction is a class 4 felony, carrying:

  • 2 to 6 years in prison (with 3 years mandatory parole), and/or
  • a fine of $2,000 to $500,000

Hunting licenses in Colorado

People need licenses from Colorado Parks and Wildlife to hunt lawfully in Colorado. Interestingly, this government agency does not run criminal background checks on applicants. Therefore, felons may obtain hunting licenses.

However, having a hunting license does not give felons permission to possess weapons for hunting purposes. So unless a felon plans to hunt by using his/her bare hands or a net, it seems pointless for felons to obtain a license to begin with.

In practice, many convicted felons press their luck and do hunt with weapons in Colorado. But they risk getting a POWPO conviction (explained above), which would add another felony to their criminal history.

(See Ryan Parker, "Felons set sights for hunting in Colorado", The Denver Post (April 30, 2016).

Restoring weapon rights through a Governor's Pardon

Convicted felons in Colorado may apply for a Governor's Pardon to restore their weapons rights. However, pardons are typically available only to people who finished their criminal sentences at least ten (10) years earlier. And even then, there is no guarantee that a pardon will be granted.

Qualifications for a Colorado governor's pardon include:

  • having good character prior to the conviction,
  • having good conduct during the incarceration,
  • statements by the sentencing judge, district attorney, and prosecuting attorney, and
  • proof of the applicant's rehabilitation

Learn more about applying for a Colorado Governor's Pardon.

(See Jordan Steffen, "Reformed inmate frustrated by backlog in Colorado's pardon process", Denver Post (April 26, 2016).

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


There are no comments for this post. Be the first and Add your Comment below.

Leave a Comment

Comments have been disabled.

Free attorney consultations...

The attorneys at Shouse Law Group bring more than 100 years collective experience fighting for individuals. We're ready to fight for you. Call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 855-LAW-FIRM for a free case evaluation.

Regain peace of mind...

Shouse Law Defense Group has multiple locations throughout California. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370