CRS 18-8-114 - Abuse of Records Offenses in Colorado

CRS 18-8-114 is the Colorado code section that defines the offense of Abuse of Records.

A person commits this offense if he or she:

  • knowingly makes a false entry in or falsely alters any public record; or
  • knowing the person lacks authority to do so, knowingly destroys, mutilates, conceals, removes, or impairs the availability of a public record; or
  • knowing the person lacks authority to keep the record, refuses to deliver the public record after a proper request for that record; or
  • knowing the person has not been authorized by the keeper of the public record to do so, knowingly alters any public record.

What is a Public Record?

A public record includes all official:

  • books,
  • papers, or
  • records,

that have been

  • created,
  • received, or
  • used

by or in any governmental office or agency.

What are the penalties for committing this offense?

Abuse of records is a Class 1 misdemeanor in the State of Colorado. If convicted, a person faces the following criminal penalties:

  • possible 6 months to a maximum of 18 months in jail; and
  • a fine of $500 up to a maximum of $5,0000; or
  • both.

Defenses to the Charge

If charged with abuse of records, a Colorado defendant can argue:

  • The record is not a "public" record.
  • He or she did not alter the record.
  • The alteration was not false.
  • The defendant had permission to alter or destroy the record.

Below, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about abuse of records for Colorado residents:

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Abuse of records is a Class 1 misdemeanor in the State of Colorado.

1. What is the offense of abuse of records in Colorado?

CRS 18-8-114 is the Colorado code section that defines the offense of Abuse of Records.

A person commits this offense if he or she:

  • knowingly makes a false entry in or falsely alters any public record; or
  • knowing the person lacks authority to do so, knowingly destroys, mutilates, conceals, removes, or impairs the availability of a public record; or
  • knowing the person lacks authority to keep the record, refuses to deliver up the public record after a proper request for that record; or
  • knowing the person has not been authorized by the keeper of the public record to do so, knowingly alters any public record. 1

2. What is a public record?

A public record includes all official

  • books,
  • papers, or
  • records,

that have been

  • created,
  • received, or
  • used,2

by or in any governmental office or agency.3

2.1 What types of public records qualify under the offense of abuse or records?

Examples of public records include but are not limited to:

  • Birth records
  • Death records
  • Marriage records
  • Voting records
  • City Council meeting minutes
  • Budget records
  • Court records and documents
  • Studies and reports
  • Titles and deeds
  • Government contracts.

3. What are the penalties for committing an abuse of records offense in Colorado?

Abuse of records is a Class 1 misdemeanor in the State of Colorado. If convicted, a person faces the following criminal penalties:

  • Possible 6 months to a maximum of 18 months in jail; and
  • a fine of $500 up to a maximum of $5,0000; or
  • both.4

4. If I am charged with an abuse of records offense in Colorado, what defenses can I raise?

If charged with abuse of records, a Colorado defendant can argue:

  • The record is not a "public" record: If the record is held or owned by a private company, private person, or any other person or entity that does not qualify as a "public record" under the definition then its destruction or alteration is not a violation of this particular Colorado code section.
  • He or she did not alter or destroy the record: You may have been accused of this offense when you never altered or destroyed the record. Often, people who are in charge of documents are assumed to have been the one to make the change, when in fact he or she was not. The prosecutor must prove that you were the one to commit the offense, not just that you had access to it.
  • The alteration was not false: To violate this section, the alteration must be false, and you must know that it was false. If the alteration is true, or if you did not know the alteration you made was false (and did not have reason to know it), then you are not guilty of this offense.
  • The defendant had permission to alter or destroy the record: If a person had permission from a proper authority or someone the alleged offender thought had proper authority, then the alteration or destruction occurred with permission and there can be no violation of this Colorado code section.
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Call us for help...

For questions about abuse of records or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled Colorado criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us.

We represent clients in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, and several nearby cities.


Legal References:

  1. CRS 18-8-114(1).
  2. People v. Trujillo, 189 Colo. 23, 536 P.2d 46 (1975) (noting the code section applies only to records after they are created, received, or used by a public office).
  3. CRS 18-8-114(2) (defining a public record for purposes of this specific code section).
  4. CRS 18-1.3-501 (Misdemeanors Classified).

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