CHAPTER 6: SELECTED CRIMINAL OFFENSES - Table of Contents
6.1 - Overview • 6.2 - Inchoate Offenses • 6.3 - Homicide • 6.4 - Assault • 6.5 - Domestic Violence • 6.6 - Other Unlawful Offenses against the person • 6.7 - Unlawful Sexual Behavior • 6.8 - Offenses against Property • 6.9 - Tresspass, Tampering and Mischief • 6.10 - Offenses involving Fraud • 6.11 - Offenses involving Family Relations • 6.12 - Offenses relating to Morals • 6.13 - Offenses against Government Operations and Public Order • 6.14 - Offenses relating to Weapons • 6.15 - Offenses relating to Controlled Substances • 6.16 - Alcohol/Drug related Traffic Incidents • 6.17 - Crimes Against Vulnerable Victims • 6.18 - Computer Crimes • 6.19 - Identity Theft
All criminal offenses in Colorado must be set out by statute; there are no longer any 'common law' crimes. Almost all crimes are set out in Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. Some of the more frequently encountered offenses are described in further detail in the balance of this chapter.
It is important to remember the basic criminal law rule that virtually all criminal offenses require both a voluntary act (actus reus) and a culpable mental state (mens rea). A person is guilty of an offense only if the person commits the act with the required mental state. Homicide offenses are a good example of this. In all homicides the act is the killing of another person. But the culpability of the actor is quite different depending on whether the actor acted after deliberation, intentionally, recklessly, or negligently.
Important definitions are found in C.R.S. § 18-1-501, which reads as follows:
The following definitions are applicable to the determination of culpability requirements for offenses defined in this code:
(1) Act means a bodily movement, and includes words and possession of property.
(2) Conduct means an act or omission and its accompanying state of mind or, where relevant, a series of acts or omissions.
(3) Criminal negligence. A person acts with criminal negligence when, through a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise, he fails to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur or that a circumstance exists.
(4) Culpable mental state means intentionally, or with intent, or knowingly, or willfully, or recklessly, or with criminal negligence, as these terms are defined in this section.
(5) Intentionally or with intent. All offenses defined in this code in which the mental culpability requirement is expressed as "intentionally" or "with intent" are declared to be specific intent offenses. A person acts "intentionally" or "with intent" when his conscious objective is to cause the specific result proscribed by the statute defining the offense. It is immaterial to the issue of specific intent whether or not the result actually occurred.
(6) Knowingly or willfully. All offenses defined in this code in which the mental culpability requirement is expressed as "knowingly" or "willfully" are declared to be general intent crimes. A person acts "knowingly" or "willfully" with respect to conduct or to a circumstance described by a statute defining an offense when he is aware that his conduct is of such nature or that such circumstance exists. A person acts "knowingly" or "willfully", with respect to a result of his conduct, when he is aware that his conduct is practically certain to cause the result.
(7) Omission means a failure to perform an act as to which a duty of performance is imposed by law.
(8) Recklessly. A person acts recklessly when he consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that a result will occur or that a circumstance exists.
(9) Voluntary act means an act performed consciously as a result of effort or determination, and includes the possession of property if the actor was aware of his physical possession or control thereof for a sufficient period to have been able to terminate it.
One exception to the general requirement that a person act with a culpable mental state is the exception for a strict liability offense. A strict liability offense does not require any particular mental culpability. Running a red light is a strict liability offense. It does not matter whether the driver ran the red light intentionally, recklessly, negligently, or because the driver fell asleep; all that matters is that the driver ran the red light. Generally, the legislature must make an explicit determination that an offense is a strict liability offense to overcome the normal requirement that a culpable mental state must be proved in order to prove a crime.
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