Self defense illegal in Colorado - since 1877

     Since 1877, it has been a felony offense to defend yourself in Colorado.
In CRS 18-1-704 (Use of physical force in defense of a person) there are established limitations on the authority of persons to defend themselves and their property or family.  This is accomplished by Article II Section 13 of the Colorado Constitution, which empowers the State (or home rule cities) to exercise police power in the use of weapons.
A person is justified in using physical force upon another person to defend themselves or a third person only in cases where 1) there may be proven reasonable belief that there is use or imminent use of physical force –  and such reasonable belief must be held to the standards of evidence in courts, with neutral witnesses, or physical proof, and 2) excessive force is not used.
However, proof must be made to a Judge after arrest.
In Colorado, it is up to the responding law enforcement officer to determine if excessive force is used.  For example, even the simple display of a gun with the threat of using it to defend your wife against someone bigger than you but not armed with a deadly weapon could violate this law, resulting in a felony.  It would be up to the person using the gun to justify, to the satisfaction of a court and the arresting police officer, that the display of the gun was necessary.  Or, even where no deadly weapons are used in a fist fight, one of the fighters might be determined to have used excessive force in defending themselves.
CRS 18-1-704 also limits the authority to use deadly force to only those times when A) lesser force may be proven to be inadequate, or B) that it may be proven that there was imminent danger of death or “great bodily injury,” or C) you are within the inside walls of your house or business (not just on your land, or in your yard) AND there is a burglary being attempted, OR there is being attempted a kidnapping, OR sexual assault, or D) you are being chased and have attempted to flee the fight but could not.  You are never allowed to use any physical force if it may be shown that you I) provoked the other person, II) you initiated the fight, or III) you are dueling or fighting by arrangement.  In Colorado, public “deadly weapons” include not only firearms (loaded or unloaded), but knives, bludgeons, or any other “weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, whether animate or inanimate.”  In this understanding, even dogs, snakes, or other domestic or wild animals used to cause injury can be considered weapons.
Therefore, Colorado law requires self-defense must be undertaken with improvised weapons, or by hands – if it is to be undertaken at all.
You should be aware that it is illegal to attempt to defend yourself without fleeing first.  It is also unlawful (CRS 18-3-206) to simply represent, verbally or otherwise, a threat of bodily injury that in any way may place a person in fear of serious bodily injury.  Even if they are attacking you.  If you do not represent you have or will use a deadly weapon, this “menacing” is a class 3 misdemeanor.  But if you represent you have or will use a deadly weapon, it becomes a class 5 felony.  Any article used or fashioned in a manner to cause belief that it is a deadly weapon will be called “menacing.”
The courts have upheld repeatedly Colorado’s laws, even affirming that the phrase “use of a deadly weapon” is broad enough to include the act of holding a weapon in the presence of another in a manner that causes the other person to fear for his safety, even if the weapon is not pointed at the other person. People v. Hines, 780 P.2d 556 (Colo. 1989); People v. District Ct., 17th Jud. Dist., 926 P.2d 567 (Colo. 1996).
Even threatening communication of a deadly disease can be the use of a deadly weapon (People v. Shawn, 107 P.3d 1033 (Colo. App. 2004)).  And an intent to inflict injury is not the element of these crimes. Whether the defendant had the intent of ability to inflict injury is not the element of felony menacing (People v. McPherson, 200 Colo. 429, 619 P.2d 38 (1980).  There is an enormous case history to look at if you desire further review.
So what we have in Colorado is a situation where you have a right to bear arms, but an incredibly limited right to use them.  There are circumstances where, even simply announcing you are armed with a gun (or another weapon) or have the intention to defend yourself, your family or your property can result in the commission of a felony.
Yes, there does exist the affirmative defense of self-defense, defense of another, or of property.  But in many fights, the only witnesses are those who are fighting.  And even if the fight takes place within your house, and the assailant says you invited them in, or if they were selling cookies or magazines or something like that, you could be severely punished as a felon if you cannot prove to the Judge or Jury otherwise.  Could you convince them?  Bad guys are good at lying.  The attacker will lie to defend themselves against the inevitable justice they face.  It is even a fact that in the numerous case histories, assailants have confused police responders whose home it was, resulting in the arrest of the homeowner!
But it won’t matter much if you admit your crime to the police officer who comes to respond: once you’ve admitted what you did (menacing the attacker with your weapon), it matters little whether you did it to defend yourself, or a loved one, or your property.  The officer will likely arrest you, and let the Judge and jury sort out whether it actually was illegal or not.  It is not the job of the police officer to judge you. It is their discretion to warrant a crime of violence has occurred.
Once arrested, you will need a lawyer.  Representing yourself, you waive your 5th Amendment right against self-incrimination.  Remember, if you admit that you have even menaced your assailant, you are admitting a crime – you are simply asking the Court to be lenient on account of the excusable nature of the crime.  But with minimum sentences, even if the Court wanted to be merciful, short of finding you not-guilty, you will not receive mercy.
So what if you could prove you defended yourself lawfully?  Could you afford a lawyer for your defense?  Tens of thousands of dollars do not come easily.  Can you trust a public defender?  If you plead and get mercy, can you afford the court costs and penalties?  The costs of probation?  The required anger management classes?  The costs of restitution for damaging your assailant?   Or do you trust a Jury or a Judge to understand your case?  Can you risk years in jail before your trial if you cannot make bail – which in most crimes of violence begins in the $25,000 to $50,000 range?  Who would provide for your family you sought to defend?

        No answer is satisfactory once you begin down that path.  Lawful self-defense in Colorado requires the person to defensively flee using improvised weapons.

Racial and sexual profiling Unamerican

     Minimum sentencing standards, greater discretionary powers to police to arrest without warrant, and other “tough on crime” reforms raised the incarceration rate in Colorado from 23% of the national average to 5% above the national average.  With 15% of males in our State having been incarcerated, and 3% of males presently actively paroled, it begs the question of whether 1 in 8 men are criminals, or whether either the discretionary powers or the minimum sentencing are to blame for an injustice.
     Examining the parole rate’s change in 1993 gives some insight: a requirement of all persons who had been incarcerated or who made a plea to serve in parole resulted in a skyrocketing parole rate. It is unreasonable to suppose that all the new parolees required parole when parole was uniformly required.
     An examination of the new demographics also yield some insight: 93% of prisoners are men, despite studies which indicate an equal propensity of men and women toward violence and criminal tendencies.  For every Caucasian prisoner, there are 7 prisoners of ethnic minorities.
     The discretion given to police places a burden upon those arrested to prove their innocence (rather than the former condition where the DA had to prove guilt).  When combined with minimum sentencing standards, there is attributed the increased likelihood those arrested (even if innocent) are pleading guilty: rather than fight to prove their innocence at the risk of harsh sentences and with unaffordable costs of legal defense (which include not only attorney fees, but the loss of income or perhaps liberty if bail cannot be paid), a person will deal, or plea.
     And bail is being required of even those who are too poor to afford it, contrary to the principles of justice, because of required bail standards.
     From this, it is possible to infer that empowering police with greater discretionary powers have resulted in racial and sexual profiling, and that the propensity of those men and minority races profiled for arrest to plea was motivated by an institution of minimum sentences.
     The difficulties these men and racial minorities face upon release from the justice system in obtaining gainful employment result in recidivism.  In this case, belief that men and racial minorities are more likely to cause crime has resulted in a realization of that belief.  Without the presence of this profiling, men are not prone to criminality, neither are minorities.
     Disturbingly, there is a propensity of police to use discretionary powers with prejudice against minorities when force or deadly force is required.  
This is not judgment against the good men and women in uniform, only a fact of statistics.  Police are not trained to act as judicial officers – in this nation, we separate the enforcement of law from the practice of law from the adjudication of law from the service of law.  The Marshal, the Attorney, the Judge and the Sheriff – each serve distinct and important roles.  It is to be expected that when one of these agencies is asked to serve the function they are neither trained nor prepared to that errors in justice will occur.  As it is inevitable that when we prevent Judges from adjudication that there will be errors in justice.
     Such errors may occur with or without hatred for minority races.  Yet the facts are tantamount to an act of aggression.  Such aggression, such racial and sexual profiling, must stop. 

The destruction of families where men were the primary income earners has had a rippling effect throughout entire communities resulting in what can only be described (because of the ethnic nature of the discrimination) in terms of an ethnic warfare.  This is Unamerican, and certainly disingenuous to the purpose of law enforcement – which has woefully and wrongly ignored criminals of other sexual orientations and ethnic identities.

Gay marriage "OK" - common law marriages next?

     With the Supreme Court now requiring a same-sex marriage performed in one State be recognized in all states, is there hope for Colorado’s common law married couples facing similar problems?
     Like same-sex marriage, common law marriage has been illegally banned in some states as well.  Indeed, only 9 States (Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, and Utah) recognize common law marriage.
     For those unfamiliar with the institution, common law marriage is a marriage without religious or secular endorsement. It is a business contract, and they may occur (like all business contracts) with or without written agreement.  Contractual obligations of the marriage are often inferred, and are sometimes non-exclusive (as has been the case with even some of Colorado’s leading citizens who took upon themselves multiple common law, er, contracts in evasion of polygamy laws). 
     The reason common law marriages are banned in several states is because they are seen typically as truly wild, uninhibited, natural acts of love which troubles neither the conscience of the husband(s) and/or wife(s) or that of any potential God holding a position of authority over them.  They are considered a threat to public morality. 
Incidentally, most common law marriages are made because of an atheistic opposition to religious marriage, or a political opposition to government-licensed marriage – justifying the moral opposition of governments and religions.
But since they originate out of a basic expression of a constitutional right to freedom of association, the Courts have upheld this human right.  When challenged, courts typically uphold the rights of people to undertake common law marriage and, in the past, have forced other states to recognize common law marriage undertaken in other states.
The legal basis for this is founded under the full faith and credit clause of the U.S. Constitution, principles of comity and their rules for choice of law and conflict of laws.

     That the Supreme Court has upheld the principle of comity again with application to same-sex marriage gives hope to all those common-law married persons who face similar illegal challenges to their marriages from states opposed to common law marriage.

2 Search and rescues in one day at RMNP

By Kyle Patterson, Rocky Mountain National Park - - - At 9:30 a.m. rangers were notified by cell phone that Chris LeGault, 48, from Lyons, Colorado, had taken a reported 50 foot fall while backcountry skiing on Sundance Mountain.  LeGault had landed in rocks suffering numerous injuries.   Rocky Mountain National Park Search and Rescue personnel reached him at 11:45 a.m.  They performed a technical evacuation lowering LeGault through snow, rocks and dense brush eventually reaching Old Fall River Road at 7:30 p.m. He was taken by ambulance to Estes Park Medical Center.  Twenty personnel were involved in this rescue.  Park search and rescue team members were assisted by two members of Douglas County Search and Rescue.  

     At noon, park rangers were notified by cell phone that Jesse Keller, 24, from Fort Collins, Colorado, had taken a reported 150 foot tumbling fall down The Homestretch on the Keyhole Route on Longs Peak.  Rangers were able to speak with Keller and he indicated he had suffered injuries but would attempt to continue down on his own.   Rangers left the Longs Peak Trailhead with the intent to assist Keller on the way down.  Their efforts were hampered by severe weather and lightning.  Rangers reached Keller at 8:30 p.m. at the Keyhole.  They assisted him through The Boulder Field and spent the night in the Boulder Field with him.  At 8:00 a.m. this morning Fuller was flown by Lifeguard One to Medical Center of the Rockies.  Park Search and Rescue Team members reached the trailhead at 11:00 a.m. this morning they were assisted by four members of Larimer County Search and Rescue.

Elbert County undertakes secret governance

Kiowa, Colorado - - - Elbert County is now requiring citizens perform a costly FOIA request to observe the contents of the consent agenda prior to or at a regular meeting of County Commissioners. This may be, in fact, an illegal obstruction of due process which prevents citizen oversight of government activities: preventing citizens from knowing what is being voted upon by their representatives, the acts of government become a secret.

Elbert County obstructs FOIA requests

By JA Roberts, Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition -  - - Real estate records, with few exceptions, are public in Colorado. Want to know the assessed value of your neighbor’s property? In most counties you can look it up online, no matter who your neighbor happens to be.
But in Elbert County, southeast of Denver, the assessment records of certain elected officials – including Assessor Billie Mills – are hidden from public view.
You can’t find them on the county’s website. And when the Colorado Freedom of Information Coalition showed up in person at the assessor’s office in Kiowa, we were told we couldn’t see the information without first getting permission from the elected official whose records have been flagged as confidential.
“It’s not a matter of hiding the value,” Mills told the CFOIC. “I know that’s what everyone is saying, but it’s a safety thing.”
Mills said the county commission decided “many years ago” that Elbert’s elected officials should be allowed to request that their assessment records be hidden if they felt that public disclosure of the information might put them in danger.
“The people in this county have a tendency to threaten us,” Mills said. “We get threats (against) our houses and our families.” Someone once threatened to bomb her home, she said.
When we first interviewed Mills a week ago Thursday, she said she would give the CFOIC permission to see the assessment records on her own property, “but if you asked for the treasurer’s (assessment), I wouldn’t give it to you” without checking with him first. Same for the county clerk and a county commissioner.
Assessment records, however, are supposed to be publicly available under the Colorado Open Records Act (CORA).
Although no state law requires county assessors to put the information on the Internet, media law attorney Michael Beylkin said “nothing in CORA allows public officials to withhold records that would disclose the tax assessment on a particular real estate property, including the name and address of the owner.”
“There is nothing I am aware of that allows an elected official to not have their assessment records available” to the public, added state property tax administrator JoAnn Groff.
Indeed, Elbert County finally made the assessment records available for inspection after the CFOIC submitted a formal CORA request letter. We picked up copies on Thursday, a week after we first asked for them in person and were told we needed permission from each elected official.
What changed in a week?
“The reason you were able to get the records that you requested was because you requested (them) through an open records request,” Mills said in an email.
As of Friday, the records still could not be found on the assessor’s website.
Gunnison County Assessor Kristy McFarland, president of the Colorado Assessors’ Association, said she hadn’t heard of any other assessor’s office in Colorado blocking the property assessment information of elected officials on county websites.
“I can’t think of any reason why that information should be hidden,” McFarland said. “People who work in government really need to make sure everything they do is transparent. I feel strongly about that.”
Colorado allows certain residents to request that some property information be kept confidential. Under the Address Confidentiality Program, a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking may apply for a substitute address to hide the location of an actual residence. State law also protects the online personal information of law-enforcement personnel.
Mills said several judges and people in law enforcement in Elbert County have had their information taken offline, including the elected county sheriff. As of a week ago Thursday, the elected officials with hidden assessments were Mills, Commissioner Robert Rowland, Treasurer Richard Pettitt, Clerk and Recorder Dallas Schroeder and former Commissioner Kurt Schlegel, who left office in January.
Former Commissioner John Shipper’s assessment information also wasn’t available, although his address was visible on the assessor’s website. After the CFOIC brought this to Mills’ attention, she said the Shipper example was a computer glitch. By that afternoon, his assessment data was on the website.
Mills also lifted confidentiality restrictions on former Commissioner Schlegel’s home as well as business property owned by Pettitt. “No, I don’t think it would” qualify for confidentiality, Mills said when the CFOIC asked why the treasurer’s business property assessment wasn’t available.
The assessment records of Commissioners Kelly Dore and Larry Ross are not hidden from view on the county’s website. Neither are the records of Coroner Mike Graeff and Surveyor Keith Westfall.
Rowland, who is chairman of the county commission, declined to answer questions about the county policy that Mills referenced or his reasons for keeping his own assessment information hidden on the county’s website. He referred questions to County Attorney Wade Gateley.
Gateley also wouldn’t comment on the policy mentioned by Mills, saying he hadn’t researched the issue.
Several days later, after the CFOIC submitted an open-records request for any documents related to such a policy, we were told in a letter “there are no records in the possession of Elbert County which are responsive to your request.”
Home addresses for Elbert County’s elected officials are in other public records such as voter registration databases and campaign finance filings on the Colorado secretary of state’s website. The public also can find their deeds and other property records on the county’s website.
Mills said the assessment cards often contain more detailed information about a house, including photos and floor plans – the type of information someone could use to see “where everything is in your home.”
“People have no clue how crazy (some) people are,” Mills said. “I know that people are trying to push that I’m hiding stuff and that we’re all doing it. No, it’s because we are threatened … They’re trying to make a thing out of this and it’s all due to safety.”
Changing the policy would be up to the commissioners, she said. “That wouldn’t be my decision to make.” The CFOIC also sought comment from Commissioners Dore and Ross, but they did not return phone calls.
Mills said any member of the public could ask to have photos and floor plans of their homes hidden from public view, but not the rest of their assessment records. So why wouldn’t the elected officials do the same? Why not post their assessments without the photos and floor plans?
“That was what the commissioners decided,” Mills said, “so that it would be totally confidential.”
Luis Toro, director of Colorado Ethics Watch and a CFOIC board member, questioned whether safety was the real reason for the hidden assessments.

“It strikes me as far more likely that the reason for hiding the assessments would be to cover up some sort of favorable treatment they may be getting from the assessor,” he said.

No obstruction of free speech in taking down of Confederate Flag

With the people of these states desiring to remove the confederate flags from their government places, they are expressing a new self-identity. When and other businesses wish to boycott the flag, they are expressing disgust at what the flag stood and stands for.  There has been no obstruction of free speech, nor any banning of the flag. Everyone who still believes in the symbol is free to carry it and display it – and we strongly commend the Peoples of these states for choosing not to do so in official capacities.

Shannon Reyes protects her fellow miners

Cripple Creek, Colorado - - - Shannon Reyes was recognized by Caterpillar, Inc., for success in dramatically decreasing operator-induced errors.
Shannon spent three years operating haul trucks for Freeport-McMoRan in Bagdad, Arizona mining copper and molybdenum before returning home and joining CC&V.
Within 5 months of working for CC&V, she was designated as a field trainer, and for the last year-and-a-half she has performed as CC&V's Haul Truck Training Coordinator. CC&V operates 24, state of the art, high-tech Caterpillar (CAT) 793 Haul Trucks. Each truck is 27' wide, 22' tall and 43' long, and has the capability of moving over 250 tons of mined material per load.  After the mining operations have been publicly permitted, including approved and bonded reclamation plans, CC&V's mining operations proceed like this: first, exploration takes place to identify rock containing gold (known as ore); then holes are drilled in the earth and loaded with explosives. After detonation, the broken rock is loaded on enormous haul trucks with mechanized shovels. The CAT 793 Haul Trucks are powered by 2415 HP diesel engines, have computer systems on board that monitor their operating conditions, and cost around $5 million dollars each.
These trucks are highly sophisticated, using computer hardware and software to track operating conditions like: physical location, speed, emergencies, weights, engine rpms, operating temperatures and pressures, as well as transmission issues. This data is transmitted wirelessly to CC&V dispatchers, maintenance, mine operations and CAT's dealer in Colorado, Wagner Equipment. This data is then utilized to reduce operator errors - increasing the efficiency and life expectancy of a very expensive, very large piece of machinery. With the assistance of Wagner/CAT, and the diligent efforts of CC&V's haul truck operators, Shannon coordinated the training to reduce the operator driven errors on CC&V's trucks by over 50% since November 2014.
Shannon likes her job. And she is good at it. Her professional experience has given her skills that are recognized by her management, co-workers, and CAT Global. She is excited by the opportunity and possibility of how she can contribute to the efficiency of CC&V's team effort. Receiving this international award was important recognition of those efforts, for both Shannon and CC&V, but at the end of the day, for Shannon, it's all about taking care of her three boys and her "second family" at CC&V.
     With the assistance of her mine operations and maintenance team, it's Shannon's job to coordinate the training of operators on how to use the powerful, high-tech, CAT 793 Haul Truck efficiently. As she says: "If we take care of our trucks, they will take care of us!" And she is really good at her job.
She smiles, and a twinkle comes to her eye, as Shannon Reyes talks about her three sons: Damian, age 9, who is into sports and loves animals; Dylan, age 7, who can put a smile on anyone's face; and Devon, age 6, who wants to fix everything - even if it's not broken!
These boys are the primary reason why Shannon performs the important, highly skilled, and unique job she has. Other reasons include: She feels like her co-workers are her second family - "We care about each other. We watch out for each other."  She acknowledges that she has a rewarding job; plus she enjoys coming to work every day - "It's like playing in a big sandbox!"
But Shannon knows this isn't play, because she trains people for a serious business.

Poor and middle class don't have to pay ACA penalty

     If you do not have health insurance, you may be required to pay a tax penalty.  To assist in compliance, the ACA provides subsidies to help the poorest Americans afford health insurance, but many states (for political reasons) opposed accepting the federal assistance to help poor taxpayers afford insurance.  And, some States also opt to not provide assistance to middle class taxpayers.
However, you do not need to be a victim of politics.  While you may still not be able to afford insurance until politicians work things out, poor and middle class taxpayers at least qualify for exemptions which protect them from the penalties for not purchasing insurance. 
First, however, it should be said there are lots of good reasons for poor and middle class families to get health insurance.  And catastrophic insurance is often affordable - even if you can’t afford regular insurance.  Yes, catastrophic insurance doesn’t cover much, but it does effectively mitigate the risks of a catastrophe in your family that would, without such insurance, might bankrupt you.
     That being said, if the ACA policies cost more than 8% of your income, you will not be penalized if you do not purchase them.  The ACA policies for adults begin at about $200 per month, and for children they begin at about $120 per month, so…

Number family members - - Approximate maximum income for exemption

1 adult - - - - - - - - - $30,000
2 adults- - - - - - - - - $60,000
1 adult + 1 child - - - - $48,000
2 adults + 1 child- - - - $78,000

Certainly you’ll want to consult with your family’s accountant, but the spirit and letter of the law are not intended to harm the middle class who would not qualify for the subsidies given to the poor.

     All you need to do is file Form 8965 with your tax return.


Wir fahr'n fahr'n fahr'n auf der Autobahn
When people talk about the German Autobahn, most people think about one thing, you can go as fast as you want! While this is true, there are a ton of rules and exceptions when it comes to the ‘no speed limit’ rule.
StVO is what Germany calls their traffic laws for their public roads. The third law listed is everyone’s favorite, because it’s what states that there is no speed limit.
“Auto” means “car”, obviously, and “Bahn” means “way,” just in case you were wondering. Also, once you see those blue and white signs, just know that the rules of the Autobahn now apply.
First of all, let’s get one thing straight. Hitler was not entirely responsible for the Autobahn, as this was an idea that had been previously created. However, he was responsible for pushing Germany to implement the system throughout the country.
The Autobahn is actually really safe. Only about 6% of deadly traffic accidents happen on the Autobahn, while the rest occur on smaller roads that have speed limits.
It’s actually not as easy as you’d think to go as fast as you want on the Autobahn. You are only allowed to pass someone on the left, and frequently, people like to hang out in the furthest left lane and go slow. So, in order to get past them and put your pedal to the metal, you have to wait for them to get over. Some people just don't understand the rules of the road, and they really make it difficult for everyone else.
Many cars have governors built in that prevent them from reaching speeds above a certain level. Many people who drive on the Autobahn do not like this, so there are shops that will remove them for you. This of course leads to issues with insurance companies and it will most likely devoid the warranty on the car.
Just because there are no posted speed limits, this does not mean that you are protected from the law. When you reach speeds above 80 MPH, if you get into an accident, your speed can be used against you even if the accident was not your fault at all.
So, there are actually parts of the Autobahn that have speed limits. I know, it goes against everything that you previously knew, but in big metropolitan areas, there have to be speed limits in place.
There are a ton of sneaky unmarked police cars that cruise the Autobahn. Since there is no speed limit, they make their money with different kinds of traffic violations and since they are unmarked, they catch quite a few people.
When driving, it is written in law that you must maintain a safe driving distance between yourself and the person in front of you. It’s called Sicherheitsabstand. Say that one five times fast.
Police cars that are not unmarked are actually quite beastly. They are all tuned up to make sure to be able to keep up with some of the extremely fast cars that frequent the Autobahn. Basically you’re going to get caught no matter what kind of car you’re in. However, police chases like you see on TV do not happen on the Autobahn as German law doesn’t allow the police to put innocent people in danger. So, technically, people can and do outrun the police.

The main reason that Germany is able to maintain the ‘no speed limit’ rule is because of the fact that the roads are so flat and smooth, just like an airport runway. Hefty taxes in Germany allow for the roads to be very well maintained so that nobody hits a pothole going 150 MPH.