Colorado Springs Juvenile Gun Possession Lawyer
Minor in Possession of a Gun
Colorado Law 18-12-108.5 CRS
Minors, individuals younger than 18, are not legally allowed to possess a firearm under Colorado law unless certain circumstances apply. Outside of these circumstances, minors can face charges of illegal possession of a handgun by a juvenile. These charges are serious, and they can bring harsh consequences upon conviction.
Whether you are looking to learn more about juvenile gun laws and weapons charges in Colorado or a loved one has been charged with a crime, here is the most important information to know. For additional information related to your situation and/or a specific juvenile weapons case, contact a 5-star criminal defense attorney at Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C.
Is It Ever Legal in Colorado for a Minor to Possess a Handgun?
Yes, there are situations in which minors can legally possess handguns. Some of these include when individuals younger than 18 have permission from a legal guardian to possess the handgun and they are:
- At their residence, with the handgun being intended for self-defense
- On property owned by a legal guardian
- Participating in a shooting competition or are at an established shooting range
- Hunting with a valid license or attending a hunter’s safety course
- Traveling to or from any of the above, as long as the handgun is not loaded
Unloaded means that the ammunition cannot be in the chamber or cylinder, nor anywhere within reach so that the handgun could be easily loaded.
What Charges Are Filed for Illegal Possession of a Handgun by a Juvenile?
Simple possession can be met with misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on whether the accused minor has any prior convictions on his or her record. Generally, the charges will be filed as:
- Class 2 misdemeanors for first-time offenses: A conviction can result in fines and time in a juvenile detention facility.
- Class 5 felonies for second or subsequent offenses: Felony convictions can be met with incarceration in a Colorado Depart of Youth Corrections facility, as well as fines.
Along with incarceration and fines, there can be other penalties for minors who are convicted of juvenile handgun possession charges. Depending on the charges and whether the accused has a criminal record, other potential penalties that the court could hand down in the event of a conviction may include (and may not be limited to):
- Community service: While juveniles can usually pick the agencies or areas where they would like to complete their court-ordered community service, there can be limitations or exclusions, if the case involved certain types of offenses, in addition to the handgun possession conviction. Here is more information about juvenile community service options and requirements in Colorado Springs.
- Therapy or specialized treatment programs: Group therapies, anger management, and other types of courses may also be ordered by the courts.
- Hospitalization: If the juvenile has a mental illness, the court may order psychiatric evaluations and commitment to a mental health facility for a certain period.
Unlike adult weapons cases, juvenile cases do not have strict penalties on the books. Effectively, that means that judges have more discretion in the sentences that are handed down in the event of a conviction. This can be good news for a defense, providing opportunities to show why a defendant may benefit from or be a good candidate for alternative sentences or suspended sentences, with probation instead.
What If the Accused is 18 Years Old?
At the age of 18, the accused can be charged and penalized as an adult. That can mean penalties include jail or prison time, as well as a criminal record. Here, it’s crucial to point out that defendants as young as 16 may face adult-level charges and penalties, depending on the circumstances of the case.
Whenever there’s a possibility that these more serious criminal charges may be filed, it’s vital to contact a lawyer who can start working to minimize that possibility. It’s typically in defendants’ best interests to keep cases at the juvenile level whenever possible.
What Are the Best Defense Strategies in Juvenile Handgun Possession Cases?
The details of a specific case will impact the best way to defend against the charges. Generally, some defense options for juvenile handgun possession cases can include arguing that:
- The accused was legally in possession of the weapon: Misunderstandings, miscommunications, and simple errors in judgment can lead to minors being wrongly accused of illegal handgun possession.
- The accused was unaware of the weapon or that the weapon was loaded: This can be a defense tactic when evidence can show that a loaded handgun and/or an unloaded handgun and ammunition was located on another individual’s property, without the knowledge of the accused. It can be a challenge for prosecutors to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt what an accused individual did and did not know.
- The weapon was illegally found by police: Police must have reasonable cause for a search warrant, and they have to follow the terms of that warrant precisely. When either of those crucial elements does not apply to a given situation, it can be possible to argue that a handgun was found as part of an illegal search. In these cases, there may be grounds to get that evidence thrown out because it was obtained illegally.
Of course, this may be just a few options for fighting juvenile handgun possession charges. Depending on the circumstances involved, it may also be possible for the defense to argue that entrapment, misidentification of the suspect, or other factors were involved.
How Can a Criminal Defense Attorney Help Me in a Juvenile Handgun Possession Case?
Whether you are the minor charged with this offense or you’re a legal guardian of the accused minor, the right lawyer can critically affect the strength, success, and resolution of these criminal cases. That’s because an experienced criminal defense lawyer can:
- Reinvestigate the case: This can uncover new witnesses and/or other evidence that may support the defense arguments and/or undercut the prosecution’s case. Evidence could include new witnesses, surveillance camera or cellphone recordings, physical evidence at the scene, and more.
- Show the district attorney and the judge that you are a person and not just a case file: Given all of the discretion built into the juvenile criminal justice system in Colorado, this can be pivotal in a defense case. It can demonstrate that the accused may have just made a mistake, the incident was a fluke, and that the accused is otherwise a good person with good values. That can help persuade prosecutors and/or the court that lesser charges, alternative penalties, or possibly suspended sentences with probation may be better options for a given case and defendant.
- Identify the best strategies to support a defense case: Should the accused testify in his or her own defense? What, if any, witnesses and/or experts will support the defense case? How can the defense case best poke holes in the prosecution’s arguments? These and other questions can be addressed by a skilled criminal defense lawyer to help craft the best possible defense case for the accused.
- Present a strong defense in court: From explaining evidence in court to cross-examining the prosecution’s witnesses and more, the right attorney can effectively defend the accused in all court proceedings, from arraignments and bail hearings through the trial and beyond.
Put the right criminal defense lawyer in your corner when it matters most by contacting Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C.
Get Superior Defense Representation Backed by Decades of Experience
If you or a loved one has been charged with a gun offense in Colorado, contact a 5-star criminal defense attorney at Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C. As former prosecutors with decades of criminal trial experience, we are highly effective at anticipating the prosecution’s tactics to craft strong, strategic defense cases for all types of gun and weapons charges.
Find out more about your rights and best defense options by contacting us today.
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The lawyers at Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C. take pride in providing the best possible outcome for our clients while treating them with the highest level of respect and professionalism. No matter how serious the gun charges are—and regardless of whether you are facing weapons charges for the first time—we understand that your case is the most important thing in your life. That’s we will treat your case as our top priority while diligently striving for the best possible resolutions.
Our extensive experience and record of success have earned us numerous professional honors and awards, positive reviews from former clients, and the respect of colleagues, local judges, and prosecutors. Contact us today and schedule your free case review.