CRS 18-9-107 is the Colorado law that makes it a petty offense to deliberately block or barricade any road, walkway, or passageway – indoors or outdoors – that the public has access to. Penalties include up to $300 in fines and/or up to 10 days in jail. Except that obstructing funeral access is a misdemeanor carrying up to $750 in fines and/or up to 120 days in jail.
The code section states that:
(1) An individual or corporation commits an offense if without legal privilege such individual or corporation intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
(a) Obstructs a highway, street, sidewalk, railway, waterway, building entrance, elevator, aisle, stairway, or hallway to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access or any other place used for the passage of persons, vehicles, or conveyances, whether the obstruction arises from his acts alone or from his acts and the acts of others; or
(b) Disobeys a reasonable request or order to move issued by a person the individual or corporation knows to be a peace officer, a firefighter, or a person with authority to control the use of the premises, to prevent obstruction of a highway or passageway or to maintain public safety by dispersing those gathered in dangerous proximity to a fire, riot, or other hazard.
(2) For purposes of this section, “obstruct” means to render impassable or to render passage unreasonably inconvenient or hazardous.
(3) An offense under this section is a petty offense; except that knowingly obstructing the entrance into, or exit from, a funeral or funeral site, or knowingly obstructing a highway or other passageway where a funeral procession is taking place is a class 2 misdemeanor.
In this article, our Denver Colorado criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is the Colorado crime of obstructing highways or other passageways?
- 2. What is the punishment under CRS 18-9-107?
- 3. How can I fight the charges?
- 4. Are there immigration consequences?
- 5. When can the criminal record be sealed?
1. What is the Colorado crime of obstructing highways or other passageways?
CRS 18-9-107 makes it a crime to intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly obstruct any of the following locations where the public has access:
- building entrances,
- hallways, or
- any other places used for the passage of persons, vehicles, or conveyances
A passageway becomes obstructed when it becomes either impassable or unreasonably inconvenient or hazardous.
Example: Tom, Mark and Helen are anti-abortion protesters. One day they form a human chain preventing patients from entering an abortion clinic. No one can get inside. Here, all three of them could be arrested for obstructing a passageway. It does not matter if Tom was the ringleader, and Mark and Helen were just following Tom’s orders.
Note that CRS 18-9-107 also makes it a crime to disobey an order by a police officer or property manager to clear out of the way.1
2. What is the punishment under CRS 18-9-107?
Obstructing a highway or passageway in Colorado is usually a petty offense, carrying:
- Up to $300 in fines, and/or
- Up to 10 days in jail
But knowingly obstructing the entrance or exit of a funeral site or procession is a class 2 misdemeanor. This carries:
- Up to $750 in fines, and/or
- Up to 120 days in jail time2
3. How can I fight the charges?
The most effective defense to Colorado charges of obstructing passageways turns on the facts of the case. Three potential defense arguments include:
- The defendant’s behavior was not intentional, knowing, or reckless. CRS 18-9-107 charges do not apply if the defendant was merely negligent, acted by accident, or suffered from a medical episode that caused him/her to collapse and obstruct people or vehicles from traveling. As long as the D.A. cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant deliberately or recklessly blocked the passageway in question, then no crime occurred.
- There was no obstruction. Perhaps the police mistook the defendant’s actions for obstruction when in reality the public could still access the area. In these cases, criminal defense attorneys would rely on surveillance video and eyewitness accounts to show that the defendant did not hinder the public’s movement.
- The defendant had permission. During demonstrations and special events, people may be able to get permits or official authorization to block certain areas from the public. As long as the defendant can produce proof he/she had official permission to obstruct the area in question, then the charge should be dropped.
4. Are there immigration consequences?
It is unlikely that a conviction for obstructing passageways would cause a non-citizen defendant to be deported. But the law is constantly changing, and any immigrant facing criminal charges should still seek out an experienced attorney. Perhaps the prosecutor may be willing to dismiss the charges to safeguard the defendant’s resident status.
5. When can the criminal record be sealed?
Petty offense convictions may be sealed one (1) year after the case closes. Class 2 misdemeanor convictions can be sealed two (2) years after the case closes. But if the defense attorney succeeds in getting the charges dismissed – meaning that there is no conviction – then the defendant can petition the court for a record seal immediately.3
- Colorado Revised Statute 18-9-107 – Obstructing highway or other passageway.
- Same. Prior to March 1, 2022, this crime was usually a class 3 misdemeanor, carrying $50 to $750 in fines and/or up to 6 months in jail. And class 2 misdemeanors carried $250 to $1,000 in fines and/or 3 to 12 months in jail. SB21-271.
- CRS 24-72.