Use of Deadly Physical Force Against an Intruder in Colorado – C.R.S. 18-1-704.5
The right to defend your property, specifically your home, is a right that we have acknowledged in our country since our country was founded. This right actually extends back to the time of the Roman Republic and in old English common law it was referred to as the “castle doctrine” – the right of man to defend his home or “castle.” The idea makes secure property rights as we have come to understand them – a person has the ability to deny entry to her castle to anyone, even the government.
The very first sentence in the statute, or law, that we have here in Colorado on this point is as follows:
“The general assembly hereby recognizes that the citizens of Colorado have a right to expect absolute safety within their own homes.”
The statute goes on to state that “any occupant of a dwelling is justified in using any degree of physical force, including deadly physical force, against another person when that other person has made an unlawful entry into the dwelling, and the occupant has a reasonable belief that such other person has committed,” or intends to commit, a crime against a person or property in addition to the uninvited entry. Finally, the occupant must “reasonably believe that such other person might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against any occupant.
That’s a mouth full and the best way to understand when someone can use force in this context is to break it down into smaller, easier to handle, sections.
First, the statute acknowledges that it applies to “any occupant of a dwelling.” This is important. It implies that the right to defend the dwelling doesn’t just belong to the owner of the dwelling – it applies to any occupant of the dwelling.
Second, it permits the occupant to use “any degree of physical force, including deadly physical force.” This is one of the few laws that allows our citizenry to use deadly force. However, the ability to use such force is not unlimited.
Third, the occupant can only use that deadly force if:
- The occupant has a reasonable belief that the invader has committed, or intends to commit a crime against the occupant or the property; and
- The occupant must reasonably believe that the invader might use any physical force, no matter how slight, against the occupant.
If the above requirements are met, then an occupant who uses force, even deadly force, will be immune from criminal prosecution and civil liability for any injuries or death resulting from that use of force. Specifically, to be immune from criminal prosecution in this scenario, the burden is on the defendant to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she had a reasonable belief that the intruder was committing or intended to commit a crime against a person or property. Critically important is the fact that this inquiry focuses on the reasonable belief of the occupant – not on the actual conduct of the intruder.
The attorneys at the Law Office of Jacob E. Martinez support this statute and understand the need to defend your property and family. If you have been put in a position where you have had to use force to protect you home and the invaluable people and property inside, then it is imperative that you have an attorney who is able to advocate on your behalf. Contact the Law Office of Jacob E. Martinez today to set up a free consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys.