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There is no specific stand your ground statute in Colorado. However, the Colorado Supreme Court has held that you may stand your ground when defending yourself or others. You have no duty to retreat even if you have a means of escape. 1
When is self-defense allowed in Colorado?
CRS 18-1-704 permits you to utilize force that you reasonably believe is required to protect yourself or others from an offense involving the implementation of physical force. Note that reacting with deadly physical force is legally justified only in the following three situations:
You reasonably believe the non-deadly force is inadequate, and you have reasonable grounds to believe — and do believe — that you or another victim is in imminent danger of dying or being seriously injured; or
You reasonably believe the non-deadly force is inadequate, and the aggressor is using — or reasonably appears about to be using — physical force while carrying out — or trying to carry out — burglary; or
You reasonably believe the non-deadly force is inadequate, and the aggressor is carrying out — or reasonably appears about to be carrying out — a kidnapping, robbery, or sexual assault.
Note that physical force is not legally justified in either of the following three situations:
You provoke the other person to use unlawful physical force and with the intent to bring about physical injury or death to another person; or
You are the initial aggressor (however, you could legally use physical force if you withdraw from the fight, convey your intent to withdraw, but the other person persists in using — or threatening to use — illegal physical force); or
Any physical force is from an unauthorized “combat by agreement“, such as a rumble or gang fight.2
What is the Make My Day law (castle doctrine) in Colorado?
CRS 18-1-704.5 permits you to implement physical force — including causing death — on an intruder if all of the following circumstances are true:
The intruder breaks into your home (which could also include a hotel room), and
You have reasonable grounds to believe that the intruder has committed an offense in the dwelling (aside from the intrusion), or that the intruder has committed — or intends to commit — an offense against a person or property (aside from the intrusion); and
You reasonably believe that the intruder may use physical force (even if very little) against an occupant.
As long as these three conditions are met, you are protected from both criminal and civil liability.
Therefore, there is no express “duty to retreat” under Colorado law before you may implement deadly force for self-defense or defense of others in your dwelling. It does not matter even if you could escape the situation without causing anyone harm.3
Note that the Colorado Supreme Court refers to the Make My Day law as the force-against-intruders statute.4
Can I use deadly force to prevent trespassing in Colorado?
CRS 18-1-706 permits you to use appropriate physical force reasonably necessary to prevent or stop what reasonably seems to be either:
Michael Becker has over a quarter-century's worth of experience as an attorney and more than 100 trials under his belt. He is a sought-after legal commentator and is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Nevada, California, and Florida.