The Crime of "Disarming a Peace Officer" in Colorado (CRS 18-8-116)

CRS § 18-8-116 is the Colorado code section that defines the offense of disarming a peace or police officer. A person commits this offense if:

  • he or she knowingly
  • without justification and without consent
  • removes the firearms or self-defense electronic control device, direct-contact stun device, or other similar device
  • from a peace officer acting under color of his or her official authority.

Definition of "Peace Officer"

A peace officer is defined as either:

  • a policeman or policewoman in uniform; or
  • if out of uniform, one who has identified him or herself by exhibiting his or her credentials as a peace officer.

Even an individual out of uniform counts as a peace officer for the purpose of this law if he or she properly identifies him or herself with credentials. This means that an accused person will be unable to argue that he or she was unaware that the person was a peace officer.

Common Weapons Included in the Offense

Guns are not the only weapon that is subject to a charge for disarming a police officer. Other weapons include:

  • tasers
  • stun guns
  • pepper spray
  • police batons, or
  • police knives.

Penalties for the Offense

Under Colorado law, the offense is a Class 5 felony and is punishable by:

  • one to 3 years in Colorado State Prison;
  • a fine between $1,000 and $100,000; and
  • mandatory parole period of 2 years.

In many cases, Colorado prosecutors charge people with an attempt to commit the offense (when the person is unsuccessful in disarming the policeman). The attempt is a Class 6 felony and is punishable by:

  • twelve to 18 months in prison;
  • up to $100,000 in fines; and
  • one year mandatory parole period.

Related Offenses

Certain Colorado offenses are very closely related to the offense of disarming a peace officer:

Below, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about the offense of disarming a peace officer for Colorado residents:

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C.R.S. § 18-8-116 is the Colorado code section that defines the offense of disarming a peace officer.

1. What is disarming a police officer in Colorado?

C.R.S. § 18-8-116 is the Colorado code section that defines the offense of disarming a peace officer. A person commits the offense if:

  • he or she knowingly
  • without justification and without consent
  • removes the firearms or self-defense electronic control device, direct-contact stun device, or other similar device
  • from a peace officer acting under color of his or her official authority. 1

A Colorado prosecutor must prove each of the elements above beyond a reasonable doubt before the accused person can be convicted of the offense.

2. What is the definition of a "peace officer?"

A peace officer is defined as either:

  • a policeman or policewoman in uniform; or if out of uniform,
  • one who has identified him or herself by exhibiting his or her credentials as a peace officer.

Even an individual out of uniform can count as a peace officer if he or she properly identifies him or herself. This means that an accused person will be unable to argue that he or she was unaware that the other person was a peace officer. 2

Example: Jonathan is a Denver policeman who is working undercover to catch drug traffickers. He is not wearing a uniform but instead is wearing everyday civilian clothing. He approaches Steve, who he suspects is a methamphetamine dealer. Before attempting to arrest Steve, Jonathan reveals that he is a police officer and shows his badge. If Steve attempts to disarm Jonathan after learning that he is a policeman, he may be charged with the offense of disarming a peace officer.

Example: Carol is a Colorado Springs foot patrolman but is undercover in an effort to catch persons suspected in engaging in prostitution. Carol is wearing normal civilian clothing. She approaches Dalia, pulls out her weapon and attempts to arrest Dalia. She does not state that she is a police officer or show credentials. Dalia attempts to pull the gun away from Carol because she fears for her life and is acting in self-defense. Because Dalia did not know Carol was a police officer and acted in self-defense, she has a good defense against a charge of disarming a peace officer.

3. What types of weapons are included in this charge?

Guns are not the only weapon subjected to this offense. Other weapons include:

  • tasers
  • stun guns
  • pepper spray
  • police batons, or
  • police knives. 3

The "other similar device" language leaves open broad interpretation for Colorado courts to follow.

This means that taking a weapon of nearly any kind may leave you vulnerable to criminal conviction under this code section.

4. What are the penalties if I am convicted?

Under Colorado law, disarming a police officer is a Class 5 felony, and is punishable by:

  • one to 3 years in state prison;
  • a fine between $1,000 and $100,000; and
  • mandatory parole period of 2 years. 4

In many cases, Colorado prosecutors charge people with an attempt to commit the offense (when the person is unsuccessful in disarming the policeman). The attempt is a Class 6 felony, and is punishable by:

  • twelve to 18 months in prison;
  • up to $100,000 in fines; and
  • one year mandatory parole period.5

It is very common for prosecutors to charge a person with "attempted" disarming of a peace officer when in fact the weapon simply fell out of the policeman's holster or belt.

Remember, just because you are charged with a crime does not mean that you are guilty.

5. Are there available defenses to a charge of disarming a peace officer?

Defenses to charges of disarming a peace officer may include:

  • the alleged peace officer was not in uniform, did not display credentials, and did not identify himself or herself as a peace officer;
  • no attempt to disarm the officer was made;
  • the officer gave consent to the alleged offender to hold the stun gun;
  • the weapon fell out of the policeman's belt and the accused had no intent to cause that result, or
  • the peace officer was not acting under color of authority at the time of the incident (he or she was off duty and not performing regular job functions).

Other defenses may be available depending on the unique circumstances of your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can make sure your rights are protected.

6. Related Offenses

Certain Colorado offenses are very closely related to the offense of disarming a peace officer:

Obstructing a Peace Officer (CRS 18-8-104) occurs when a person uses or threatens to use force to obstruct, impair, or hinder:

  • a police officer,
  • firefighter,
  • emergency medical services provider,
  • rescue specialist, or
  • volunteer. 6

Impersonating a Peace Officer (CRS 18-8-112) occurs when a person:

  • falsely pretends to be a peace officer; and
  • performs an act within the capacity (or job functions) of a peace officer. 7
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Call us for help...

For questions about the offense of disarming a peace officer 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. C.R.S. § 18-8-116(1).
  2. C.R.S. § 18-8-116(3).
  3. Same as footnote 1.
  4. C.R.S. § 18-1.3-201(1)(A.1). (Penalty ranges for Class 5 felonies).
  5. C.R.S. § 18-1.3-201(1)(A.1). (Penalty ranges for Class 6 felonies).
  6. C.R.S. § 18-8-104.
  7. C.R.S. 18-8-112.

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