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
6.13 OFFENSES AGAINST GOVERNMENT OPERATIONS AND PUBLIC ORDER
Offenses against governmental operations include such things resisting arrest, obstructing a peace officer or firefighter, accessory, false reporting, escape, bribery, abuse of public office, perjury and tampering with witnesses or juries. These offenses are found in Article 8 of Title 18. Offenses against the public peace and order are found in Article 9 of Title 18. These offenses include such things as rioting, disorderly conduct, harassment, cruelty to animals and eavesdropping and wiretapping of communications.
A person commits resisting arrest if the person knowingly prevent or attempts to prevent a peace officer from effecting the arrest of anyone by using or threatening to use physical violence or by using any other means that creates a substantial risk of causing bodily injury. The peace officer must be acting "under color of his official authority" at the time, and this term has been defined as making good faith judgments in the course of official duties. It is not a defense to this charge that the arrest was illegal, but it is a defense to this charge that the arrest was being effected with unreasonable or excessive force. Resisting arrest is a class 2 misdemeanor.
Obstructing a peace officer or firefighter or emergency services worker when a person uses or threatens to use violence, force, physical interference or an obstacle, and knowingly obstructs or impairs the enforcement of the penal law or public order by a police officer, or the control of a fire by a firefighter, or the administration of medical or emergency assistance by an emergency services worker. The offense includes knowingly hindering or impairing an animal that is working with the peace officer or firefighter. It is not a defense that the peace officer or other person was acting illegally, as long as the acts were taken under color of official authority. This offense is a class 2 misdemeanor.
The crime of accessory is committed when a person renders assistance to another person for the purpose of preventing the detection, prosecution or punishment of that other person for the commission of a crime. Rendering assistance is defined to mean harboring or concealing the perpetrator, victim or witness of a crime; providing warning, money, disguise or other assistance to the other person to help avoid apprehension; obstructing, with physical force, intimidation or deception, anyone who is trying to apprehend the other person; or concealing or destroying evidence. Accessory is a class 4 felony if the person being assisted is charged with or convicted of a class 1 or 2 felony. It is a class 5 felony of the person being assisted is charged with or convicted of any other felony, and a class 1 petty offense if the other person is charge with or convicted of a misdemeanor.
The crime of false reporting to authorities is committed when a person a) knowingly causes a false fire alarm to be made, b) makes or causes to be made a report to law enforcement about a crime or other incident that he knows did not occur, c) provides information to law enforcement knowing that the information is false or d) knowingly provides false identifying information to law enforcement. False reporting is a class 3 misdemeanor.
The crime of escape is fairly self-evident: a person commits escape when he knowingly escapes from custody or confinement. Custody or confinement has been defined broadly to include not just a prison break, but also a failure to return from work while serving a work release sentence, a failure to report to serve a weekend or other alternative sentence, and even a failure to comply with the curfew component of an intensive parole supervision sentence. The seriousness of the offense turns on the seriousness of the crime for which the person has been convicted or is being detained. Escape following conviction of a class 1 felony is a class 2 felony. Escape following conviction of any other felony is a class 3 felony. Escape following conviction of a misdemeanor, petty or municipal offense is a class 3 misdemeanor. A person who escapes while charged with a felony commits a class 4 felony and a person who escapes while charged with a misdemeanor, petty or municipal offense commits a class 1 petty offense. Escapes from insanity or incompetency commitments are treated somewhat differently. The statutes governing escape also provide that a sentence must be imposed following a conviction of this offense (probation is not allowed) and that any sentence must be served consecutively to any other sentence the offender is then serving.
Persons who have been released on bond while awaiting trial or other disposition of their case are often required by the court setting the bond to follow certain conditions. A person commits violation of bail bond conditions if the person fails to appear for a court hearing. This offense is a class 6 felony if the underlying charge is a felony, and a class 3 misdemeanor if the underlying charge is a misdemeanor or delinquency proceeding. As with the offense of escape, probation is not an option and consecutive sentences of one year and six months, respectively, must be imposed by the sentencing court.
A person commits bribery if the person offers, confers or agrees to confer any pecuniary benefit upon a public servant with the intent to influence that public servant's vote or other action in an official capacity. A public servant who solicits, accepts or agrees to accept such an offer is also guilty of the offense. It is not a defense that the public servant was actually not qualified in the manner desired. Bribery is a class 3 felony.
Public servants who misbehave in other ways are subject to other sorts of prosecutions. A public servant commits misuse of official information if he or she uses official information that is not yet public and acquires a pecuniary interest in any property that may be affected by such information, or speculates on the basis of the information. This offense is a class 6 felony. A public servant commits first degree official misconduct if, with intent to obtain a benefit for himself or another, or the intent to maliciously harm another, the public servant knowingly a) commits an unauthorized exercise of his official function, b) refrains from performing a duty imposed upon him by law, c) violates any rule or regulation governing his office. First degree official misconduct is a class 2 misdemeanor. Second degree official misconduct occurs when a public servant knowingly, arbitrarily and capriciously either refrains from performing a duty imposed on him by law or violates any law or regulation governing his office. This offense is a class 1 petty offense.
Two levels of perjury are recognized in Colorado law. First degree perjury occurs when a person knowingly makes a materially false statement, which he does not believe to be true, while under oath in any official proceeding. A materially false statement is one that is both false and could have affected the course or outcome of the official proceeding. First degree perjury is a class 4 felony. Second degree perjury occurs when a person knowingly makes a materially false statement, which he does not believe to be true, while under an oath authorized by law, in some proceeding other than an official proceeding. Second degree perjury is a class 1 misdemeanor. Perjury may not be established solely through the uncorroborated testimony of a single witness. A person is not guilty of perjury if the person retracts the false statement in the same proceeding in which it was initially made.
Several statutes protect the integrity of the trial process relating to witnesses and jurors. It is illegal to bribe a witness and for a witness to accept a bribe. Bribe-receiving by a witness, C.R.S. 18-8-603, is a class 4 felony and occurs when any person believing he is to be called as a witness in any official proceeding solicits, accepts or agrees to accept any benefit in exchange for testifying falsely, withholding testimony, avoiding service of process or absenting himself from the proceeding. Bribing a witness, C.R.S. § 18-8-703, uses the same language as the bribe-receiving statute, but also includes efforts to bribe a family member, close friend, or household member of the prospective witness. This is a class 4 felony. Tampering with physical evidence, C.R.S. § 18-8-610, is a class 6 felony and occurs when a person destroys or alters physical evidence with the intent to impair its verity or availability in some official proceeding. Tampering with a witness, C.R.S. § 18-8-707, occurs when a person intentionally, but without threats or bribery, attempts to induce a witness or victim to testify falsely or to avoid service of process or fail to appear at the proceeding. This offense is a class 4 felony.
Intimidating a witness or victim, C.R.S. § 18-8-704, is also a class 4 felony. A person commits this crime if the person uses threat or harassment or act of harm to person or property, against a witness or victim or member of the family of the witness or victim, with the intent to alter testimony or induce the witness or victim not to testify. Aggravated intimidation of a witness or victim, C.R.S. § 18-8-705, occurs when the crime of intimidating a witness, as just described, is committed with a deadly weapon or results in any injury or fear as the result of the use of a deadly weapon. This more serious offense is a class 3 felony.
Bribing a juror, C.R.S. § 18-8-606, occurs when a person offers, or confers or agrees to confer any benefit upon a juror with the intention of influencing that juror's vote or other action as a juror. This is a class 4 felony. Bribe-receiving by a juror, C.R.S. § 18-8-607, occurs when a juror intentionally solicits or accepts any benefit to influence his vote or other action as a juror. This is a class 4 felony. Intimidating a juror, C.R.S. § 18-8-608, occurs when a person intentionally attempts to influence a juror's actions as a juror by the use of threats of harm or injury to any person. This offense is a class 4 felony. Jury tampering, C.R.S. § 18-8-609, occurs when a person attempts to communicate with a juror in an attempt to influence that juror's actions as a juror. This is a class 5 felony, except that jury tampering in the trial of a class 1 felony offense is a class 4 felony.
Various offenses against the "public peace, order and decency" are set out in Article 9 of Title 18. Only a few of the more commonly charged offenses are discussed here.
A person commits the crime of inciting riot, in violation of C.R.S. § 18-9-102 if the person either a) incites or encourages a group of five or more persons to engage in a current or pending riot or b) commands or signals or instructs a group of five or more persons in furtherance of a riot. A riot is defined as a public disturbance of three or more persons in which tumultuous or violent conduct creates a grave danger or damage to person or property or substantially obstructs any government function. Inciting riot is a class 1 misdemeanor unless damage to person or property occurs, in which case it is a class 5 felony. Engaging in a riot, C.R.S. § 18-9-104, is a class 2 misdemeanor unless the person uses or pretends to use a deadly weapon, in which case it is a class 4 felony.
Disorderly conduct, C.R.S. § 18-9-106, can occur in a variety of ways. A person commits this offense if the person intentionally, knowingly or recklessly a) makes a coarse and obviously offensive utterance or display in a public place that tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace, b) makes an unreasonable noise in a public place or near a private place where the person has no right to be, c) fights with another in public, d) discharges a firearm in public except while engaged in legal hunting or target practice, or e) displays a deadly weapon in public in a manner calculated to alarm. Disorderly conduct under subsections a and b is a class 1 petty offense, a violation of subsection c is a class 3 misdemeanor, and a violation of subsections d and e is a class 2 misdemeanor.
Harassment, like disorderly conduct, can be committed in a variety of ways. The offense is set out in C.R.S. § 18-9-111. A person commits harassment if, with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, he a) strikes or otherwise touches or subjects to physical contact another person, b) directs obscene language or an obscene gesture to another person in a public place, c) follows a person in a public place, d) communicates, by phone or otherwise, with a person in a manner designed to harass or in a manner that is obscene, e) repeatedly calls a person with no purpose of legitimate communication, f) repeatedly communicates with another person at inconvenient hours in a manner that invades privacy or interferes with the enjoyment of another's home or property, or, g) repeatedly taunts, insults, challenges or otherwise communicates with another in offensively coarse language in a manner likely to provoke a disorderly or violent response. Harassment is a class 3 misdemeanor, unless the harassment is based on the actual or perceived race, color, ancestry, religion or national origin of the victim, in which case it is a class 1 misdemeanor.
Harassment by stalking is a more serious offense, and is set out in C.R.S. § 189-111(4). The Colorado legislature has made specific findings about the seriousness of this offense and the dangers posed by persons who engage in stalking behavior. This offense is committed when a person a) makes a credible threat to another person and, in connection with the threat, repeatedly approaches or follows that person or a member of that person's family or someone with whom that person has or had a continuing relationship, b) makes a credible threat to another person and, in connection with that threat, repeatedly communicates with that person or a member of that person's family or someone with whom that person has or had a continuing relationship, or c) repeatedly follows or communicates with a person or a member of that person's family or someone with whom that person has or had a continuing relationship in a fashion that would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress and does cause serious emotional distress to that other person or a member of that person's family or someone with whom that person has or had a continuing relationship. This offense is a class 5 felony, but if the defendant has been previously convicted of the offense within seven years, or if the defendant was subject to a restraining order or bond condition or other court order regarding the behavior in question, it is a class 4 felony.
Hazing, C.R.S. § 18-9-124, is defined as "any activity by which a person recklessly endangers the health or safety of or causes a risk of bodily injury to an individual for purposes of initiation or admission into or affiliation with any student organization." Specifically, it includes forced and prolonged physical activity, forced consumption of any food or beverage and prolonged deprivation of sleep or sustenance. Hazing is a class 3 misdemeanor.
Cruelty to animals is defined in C.R.S. § 18-9-201 and 202 as knowingly or negligently overworking, torturing, depriving of necessary sustenance, cruelly beating or mutilating, needlessly mutilating or killing or otherwise mistreating an animal, or failing to provide proper food, drink and protection of an animal in the charge or custody of a person. Many of these terms are defined more precisely in § 202. Cruelty to animals is a class 1 misdemeanor. In addition to the usual penalties for a class 1 misdemeanor, the court can sentence the offender to an evaluation and counseling for anger management. If a person has been previously convicted of the offense, the court must impose counseling, a minimum fine of $1,000, and the minimum jail sentence for a class 1 misdemeanor, six months.
Return to Table of Contents »