What do a pillow, a hammer, and a gun have in common? They can all be used to injure or kill someone. Does this mean that these items are weapons? Which also raises the question, "can anything be used as a weapon?" Let’s examine the legal definition used in Colorado law.
Legal Definition of a Weapon
Under Colorado law, a “deadly weapon” refers to two categories:
- A firearm, whether loaded or unloaded; or
- A knife, bludgeon, or any other weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, whether animate or inanimate, that, in the manner it is used, or intended to be used, is capable of producing death or serious bodily injury.
From this definition, we can determine that any form of a firearm (even unloaded firearms) are deadly weapons. Therefore, a gun with no bullets is technically a deadly weapon under Colorado law.
After finding the definition of a weapon, for example, firearms are weapons, every other item’s “weapon status” is dependent on how the item is wielded. For example, a knife could be a weapon depending on the circumstances. If someone harms someone else with a knife, then it is probably going to be considered a weapon. If someone attempts to harm someone else with the knife, then it could be considered a weapon based on the evidence of the attack.
“Manner of Use” Clause
As written in the definition of a “deadly weapon,” we find the phrase, “manner it is used.” By using this definition, most any item could be a weapon under the right circumstances. For example, if someone smothers someone else with a pillow, it could be argued that the pillow was a “dangerous weapon” based on the way it was used.
Once you think through the manner of use clause, you begin to realize that many everyday items could be deadly weapons under the right circumstances.
Common items that could be considered deadly weapons include:
- Cooking knives;
- Baseball bats;
- Rat poison and other chemicals;
However, none of these items are automatically “deadly weapons” like a firearm. The circumstances of the interaction, the prosecution’s arguments, and the defense’s defense can all impact the item’s “deadly weapon status.”
Penalties Increase with a Deadly Weapon
The identification of an item as a “deadly weapon” could drastically impact a criminal case. An assault charge, with a deadly weapon, could become an aggravated assault charge, a robbery charge, with a deadly weapon, could become an aggravated robbery charge, and a sexual assault charge, with a deadly weapon, could become an aggravated sexual assault charge.
The aggravated status of these charges dramatically increases the potential penalties for the convicted, which is why the accused should always fight an item’s deadly weapon status if possible.
Accused of Wielding a Deadly Weapon?
If you’re accused of using a deadly weapon, hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney could help your case. An attorney will know how to paint the scene of the supposed crime to cast doubt on the prosecution’s arguments concerning an item’s “deadly weapon” status.
If you want experienced representation for your criminal case, you want the Law Office of Kevin Cahill. Our award-winning firm knows how to protect clients from bogus allegations while poking holes in the prosecution’s arguments. At our firm, we fight hard to defend your rights against prosecutors and accusers.