Under § 18-8-104 CRS, Colorado law prohibits obstructing a peace officer. This is defined as interfering with or hindering peace officers, firefighters, EMT providers, rescue specialists or first responder volunteers in the course of their official duties.
Obstructing a police officer is a class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by
- up to 120 days in county jail and/or
- a fine of up to $750.
The full language of the statute reads:
(1)(a) A person commits obstructing a peace officer, firefighter, emergency medical service provider, rescue specialist, or volunteer when, by using or threatening to use violence, force, physical interference, or an obstacle, such person knowingly obstructs, impairs, or hinders the enforcement of the penal law or the preservation of the peace by a peace officer, acting under color of his or her official authority; knowingly obstructs, impairs, or hinders the prevention, control, or abatement of fire by a firefighter, acting under color of his or her official authority; knowingly obstructs, impairs, or hinders the administration of medical treatment or emergency assistance by an emergency medical service provider or rescue specialist, acting under color of his or her official authority; or knowingly obstructs, impairs, or hinders the administration of emergency care or emergency assistance by a volunteer, acting in good faith to render such care or assistance without compensation at the place of an emergency or accident.
(b) To assure that animals used in law enforcement or fire prevention activities are protected from harm, a person commits obstructing a peace officer or firefighter when, by using or threatening to use violence, force, physical interference, or an obstacle, he or she knowingly obstructs, impairs, or hinders any such animal.
(1.5) A person shall not be charged with the offense described in subsection (1) of this section because the person remained silent or because the person stated a verbal opposition to an order by a government official.
(2) It is not a defense to a prosecution under this section that the peace officer was acting in an illegal manner, if he or she was acting under color of his or her official authority. A peace officer acts “under color of his or her official authority” if, in the regular course of assigned duties, he or she makes a judgment in good faith based on surrounding facts and circumstances that he or she must act to enforce the law or preserve the peace.
(2.5) If a person is alleged to have committed the offense described in subsection (1)(a) or (1)(b) of this section by using or threatening to use an unmanned aircraft system as an obstacle, the offense does not apply if the person who operates the unmanned aircraft system:
(a) Obtains permission to operate the unmanned aircraft system from a law enforcement agency or other entity that is coordinating the response of peace officers, firefighters, emergency medical service providers, rescue specialists, or volunteers to an emergency or accident;
(b) Continues to communicate with such entity during the operation of the unmanned aircraft system; and
(c) Complies immediately with any instructions from the entity concerning the operation of the unmanned aircraft system.
(4) Obstructing a peace officer, firefighter, emergency medical service provider, rescue specialist, or volunteer is a class 2 misdemeanor.
(5) For purposes of this section, unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) “Emergency medical service provider” means a member of a public or private emergency medical service agency, whether that person is a volunteer or receives compensation for services rendered as such emergency medical service provider.
(b) “Obstacle” includes an unmanned aircraft system.
(c) “Rescue specialist” means a member of a public or private rescue agency, whether that person is a volunteer or receives compensation for services rendered as such rescue specialist.
Below, our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about the offense of Obstructing a Police Officer:
- 1. What is obstructing a peace officer in Colorado?
- 2. What is obstruction?
- 3. Can I be charged for obstructing a police or fire animal?
- 4. May I stop a police officer that is acting illegally?
- 5. What are the penalties if I am convicted?
- 6. Are there available defenses?
- 7. Related Offenses
C.R.S. § 18-8-104 is the Colorado code section that defines the criminal offense of Obstructing a Peace Officer. Under this section, you may not obstruct:
- a peace officer (police officer)
- emergency medical services provider
- rescue specialist, or
- volunteer. 1
You commit “obstruction” when you, by using or threatening to use violence, force, or physical interference, knowingly obstruct, impair, or hinder the:
- enforcement of the penal law,
- preservation of peace,
- abatement of fire by a firefighter, or
- application of medical treatment or emergency assistance. 2
An obstruction of justice crime in Colorado, some common examples of obstruction include but are not limited to:
- Verbally threatening harm to police;
- Blocking firefighters from putting out a fire;
- Stopping or attempting to stop a policeman from making an arrest or writing a ticket;
- Crossing yellow police tape;
- Uses force to block medical treatment for a person; or
- Giving law enforcement officers false information.
The code section is intentionally vague, and broad. A lot of different conduct could be charged as obstruction, but with experienced legal help you can fight the charges against you.
Yes. The same types of acts that may get a Colorado resident charged for obstruction against a human police officer or firefighter may result in a charge for the same actions against an animal.
This most commonly occurs with police dogs, and usually includes behavior like:
- threatening a police or fire animal,
- tackling a police dog,
- kicking or punching a police dog, or
- attempting to block a drug- or bomb-sniffing dog from doing its job. 3
If you are charged with this offense, you may not argue that a peace officer was acting illegally in the course of their duties.
So long as the official was acting “under color of his or her official authority,” the offense may still be charged against you so long as the peace officer:
- acted in the regular course of their assigned duties;
- made a judgment in good faith based on the surrounding facts and circumstances; and
- took actions to enforce the law or preserve the peace.
Challenging a peace officer’s illegal actions is best done in a court of law, not in the heat of the moment. 4
Obstructing a peace officer is a class 2 misdemeanor. If convicted, you face the following possible penalties:
- Up to 120 days in jail; and/or
- A fine of up to $750.
Common defenses to obstruction of a peace officer often include things like:
- the peace officer or another emergency worker not acting under color of their official authority at the time of the alleged offense;
- you did not know you were obstructing an official covered by this law (either because of lack of realizing you were interfering or because the person was not in uniform and did not offer identification);
- you were acting in self-defense or defense of another5;
- a peace officer was using excessive force against you; or
- there was police misconduct (such as a coerced confession).
If the case gets dismissed, you can pursue a criminal record seal right away.
Certain Colorado crimes are very closely related to the offense of Obstructing a Peace Officer.
Disarming a Peace Officer (C.R.S. 18-8-116) occurs when you knowingly remove:
- a firearm,
- stun gun,
- or other similar device of a peace officer while under the color of their official authority. 6
Impersonating a Peace Officer (C.R.S. 18-8-112) occurs when you:
- falsely pretend to be a peace officer; and
- perform an act within the capacity (or job functions) of a peace officer. 7
Obstructing Government Operations (C.R.S. 18-8-102) occurs when you:
- intentionally hinder a public servant from carrying out duties
- through force or threats.8
Call us for help…
For questions about the offense of obstructing a peace officer or to confidentially discuss your criminal case with one of our Colorado criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact our law office.
Arrested in California? See our article on the California crime of resisting arrest | Penal Code 148(a)(1) PC.
Arrested in Nevada? See our article on the Nevada crime of obstructing a public officer | NRS 197.190.
- Colorado Revised Statute § 18-8-104(1)(a). See also Holdridge v. Blank, (D. Colo. 2017) 255 F. Supp. 3d 1088. Prior to March 1, 2022, obstructing a peace officer was punished by 3 to 12 months in county jail and/or a fine of $250 to $1,000. SB21-271.
- Same as footnote 1. (Defining the nature of obstruction).
- C.R.S. § 18-8-104(1)(b).
- C.R.S. § 18-8-104(2). (Describing “color of authority” under Colorado law.)
- People v. Barrus, (2010) 232 P.3d 264 (“Self-defense is an available defense against the charge of obstructing a peace officer”).
- C.R.S. 18-8-116.
- C.R.S. 18-8-112.
- CRS 18-8-102.