Colorado Revised Statute 18-1-901 CRS defines “deadly weapon“, “serious bodily injury“, and other important terms in criminal law. Whether a specific case’s fact pattern fits these definitions determines what state charges defendants face and their potential penalties.
The full text of the statute reads as follows:
CRS 18-1-901. (1) Definitions set forth in any section of this title apply wherever the same term is used in the same sense in another section of this title unless the definition is specifically limited or the context indicates that it is inapplicable.
(2) The terms defined in section 18-1-104 and in section 18-1-501, as well as the terms defined in subsection (3) of this section, are terms which appear in various articles of this code. Other terms which need definition but which are used only in a limited number of sections of this code are defined in the particular section or article in which the terms appear.
(3)(a) “To aid” or “to assist” includes knowingly to give or lend money or extend credit to be used for, or to make possible or available, or to further the activity thus aided or assisted.
(b) “Benefit” means any gain or advantage to the beneficiary including any gain or advantage to another person pursuant to the desire or consent of the beneficiary.
(c) “Bodily injury” means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical or mental condition.
(d) “Deadly physical force” means force, the intended, natural, and probable consequence of which is to produce death, and which does, in fact, produce death.
(e) “Deadly weapon” means:
(I) A firearm, whether loaded or unloaded; or
(II) 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.
(III) and (IV)(Deleted by amendment, L. 2013.)
(f) “Deface” means to alter the appearance of something by removing, distorting, adding to, or covering all or a part of the thing.
(g) “Dwelling” means a building which is used, intended to be used, or usually used by a person for habitation.
(h) “Firearm” means any handgun, automatic, revolver, pistol, rifle, shotgun, or other instrument or device capable or intended to be capable of discharging bullets, cartridges, or other explosive charges.
(h.5) “Gender identity” and “gender expression” mean a person’s gender-related identity and gender-related appearance or behavior whether or not that gender-related identity, appearance, or behavior is associated with the person’s assigned sex at birth.
(i) “Government” includes the United States, any state, county, municipality, or other political unit, any branch, department, agency, or subdivision of any of the foregoing, and any corporation or other entity established by law to carry out any governmental function.
(j) “Governmental function” includes any activity which a public servant is legally authorized to undertake on behalf of government.
(k) “Motor vehicle” includes any self-propelled device by which persons or property may be moved, carried, or transported from one place to another by land, water, or air, except devices operated on rails, tracks, or cables fixed to the ground or supported by pylons, towers, or other structures.
(m) “Pecuniary benefit” means benefit in the form of money, property, commercial interests, or anything else, the primary significance of which is economic gain.
(n) “Public place” means a place to which the public or a substantial number of the public has access, and includes but is not limited to highways, transportation facilities, schools, places of amusement, parks, playgrounds, and the common areas of public and private buildings and facilities.
(o) “Public servant” means any officer or employee of government, whether elected or appointed, and any person participating as an advisor, consultant, process server, or otherwise in performing a governmental function, but the term does not include witnesses.
(o.5) “Restorative justice practices” means practices that emphasize repairing the harm caused to victims and the community by offenses. Restorative justice practices include victim-offender conferences, family group conferences, circles, community conferences, and other similar victim-centered practices. Restorative justice practices are facilitated meetings attended voluntarily by the victim or victim’s representatives, the victim’s supporters, the offender, and the offender’s supporters and may include community members. By engaging the parties to the offense in voluntary dialogue, restorative justice practices provide an opportunity for the offender to accept responsibility for the harm caused to the victim and community, promote victim healing, and enable the participants to agree on consequences to repair the harm, to the extent possible, including but not limited to apologies, community service, reparation, restoration, and counseling. Restorative justice practices may be used in addition to any other conditions, consequences, or sentence imposed by the court.
(p) “Serious bodily injury” means bodily injury which, either at the time of the actual injury or at a later time, involves a substantial risk of death, a substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement, a substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body, or breaks, fractures, or burns of the second or third degree.
(q) “Tamper” means to interfere with something improperly, to meddle with it, or to make unwarranted alterations in its condition.
(r) “Thing of value” includes real property, tangible and intangible personal property, contract rights, choses in action, services, confidential information, medical records information, and any rights of use or enjoyment connected therewith.
(s) “Utility” means an enterprise which provides gas, sewer, electric, steam, water, transportation, or communication services, and includes any carrier, pipeline, transmitter, or source, whether publicly or privately owned or operated.
One of the most important terms that Colorado Revised Statute 18-1-901 defines is “serious bodily injury“, which are injuries that involve either:
- a substantial risk of death,
- a substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement,
- a substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body,
- breaks or fractures, or
- burns of the second or third degree.1
The other important term that CRS 18-1-901 defines is “deadly weapon“, which comprises either:
- loaded or unloaded pistols, revolvers, shotguns, rifles, or any other type of gun or long gun,
- bludgeons, or
- any other item that could produce death or serious bodily injury (such as a lead pipe or a brick)2
Whether an injury counts as serious – and whether an object was meant to be used a deadly weapon – largely determine how the D.A. prosecutes assault cases. For instance, first degree assault (CRS 18-3-202) comprises intentional assaults causing serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon. Second degree assault (CRS 18-3-203) comprises intentional assaults causing serious bodily injury without a deadly weapon. And third degree assault (CRS 18-3-204) comprises negligently causing a non-serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon.3