Colorado Springs Possession of Weapon by Previous Offender (POWPO) Attorneys
Colorado law prohibits convicted felons from knowingly carrying, possessing, and/or using firearms. Violating this law can result in POWPO charges, which are serious felony-level charges that can bring years of prison time upon conviction.
If you or a loved one is facing POWPO charges, the following shares some essential information to know about Colorado law, these cases, and general defense options. Whenever you need advice specific to your situation, contact a Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney at Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C.
Who is a “Previous Offender” Under Colorado Law?
Minors and legal adults who have been convicted of a felony offense, including attempted felonies and conspiracy to commit a felony, will typically be “previous offenders” in the realm of POWPO charges. Here, “convicted” can include a guilty verdict from a jury, a guilty plea from a defendant, and a no-contest plea that defers judgment in the case. In other words, it’s not necessary for a jury or judge to convict a defendant in order for that individual to be considered a “previous offender” for the purposes of POWPO charges.
How Does the Law Defense “Possession” & “Weapon”?
According to CRS 18-12-108, possession can refer to direct control of a weapon, as in having it in hand or on one’s person. It can also mean having the intent and ability to control a weapon, even if the weapon is not being physically carried at the time.
For POWPO charges, a prohibited “weapon” that can bring these charges can include an array of firearms, like (but not limited to):
- Handguns, revolvers, and pistols
- Rifles and shotguns
- Automatic weapons
- Ballistic knives
- Any device that can be used to discharge explosives
This can include firearms that are incapable of discharging ammunition and some firearm equipment, like silencers. POWPO charges may also be filed when previous offenders own, carry, or use deadly weapons like bludgeoning devices that can cause serious injury.
What Charges & Penalties Are Associated with POWPO Charges?
The severity of possession of a weapon by a previous offender charges will vary, depending on:
- The offense: What crime was the previous conviction for and how long ago did it happen? When past convictions are more recent and/or involve more serious crimes, POWPO charges and potential penalties can be elevated to harsher levels.
- The weapon: If the weapon is classified as a “dangerous weapon,” again, more serious charges and penalties will usually result.
Based on those and potentially other factors, POWPO charges can be filed as:
- Class 6 felonies: First-time POWPO offenses will usually be met with these charges, which can be punishable by 1 to 1.5 years in prison, $1,000 to $1,000,000 in fines, and 1 year of mandatory parole.
- Class 5 felonies: If a previous conviction was for arson, burglary, or any crime using a deadly weapon, these more serious POWPO felony charges can be filed. Class 5 felonies for POWPO may also come into play when a previous offender is caught with a deadly weapon. A conviction on these charges can be punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison, $1,000 to $1,000,000 in fines, and 2 years of mandatory parole.
- Class 4 felonies: Repeat POWPO offenses and convictions typically result in these felony charges, which can be punishable by 2 to 6 years in prison, $2,000 to $500,000, and 3 years of mandatory parole.
These charges may just be the tip of the iceberg if the case involves possession of a weapon as part of another offense, like an assault, robbery, or drug offense. While the other offenses can bring their own criminal charges, probation violation charges can also be brought if the felon is currently on parole when (s)he allegedly had the weapon.
What Are Some Defense Options in POWPO Cases?
As with any criminal case, the best defense will hinge on the evidence and details specific to that case. Generally, however, defending against POWPO charges involves demonstrating that the accused did not knowingly possess the weapon in question. To do this, the defense team may use tactics like (but not limited to):
- Poking holes in the prosecution’s case: Whether that’s bringing witnesses to counter the prosecution’s witnesses or presenting other evidence that raises questions about their arguments, there can be several ways to undercut the prosecution and strength POWPO defense cases.
- Working to get evidence dismissed: This can involve showing that police and/or prosecutors make procedural errors that may have compromised the evidence and/or witnesses. In some cases, evidence may also be inadmissible if it was obtained illegally, like if police found the weapon as part of an illegal search that violated the accused individual’s Fourth Amendment rights.
- Striving to get the charges reduced or dismissed: Experienced defense lawyers can start speaking with prosecutors early on, strategically showing just enough of the defense’s hand to try to convince prosecutors to pursue lesser charges or, ideally, dismiss the charges altogether.
Leveraging these tactics, a good defense may also include specific arguments like (but not limited to) the following:
- The accused had no knowledge of, control over, and/or access to the weapon.
- The accused thought the weapon was a different object and, therefore, was unaware that (s)he was in possession of the weapon.
- The accused only had the weapon to protect their home or to use as a food preparation tool (in the case of a knife).
Remember, the burden of proof in these cases is on the prosecutor. That means they need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused knew about the weapon and had control of the weapon. The lawyer you have on your side can make all of the difference in how you are able to stand up to the prosecution’s case—and how you are able to resolve the charges.
Fight POWPO Charges with 30+ Years of Criminal Law Experience
When you have already been convicted of a felony and you face felony charges of POWPO again, having a strategic, effective defense can be critical to protecting what matters most—your freedom and your future. Whether you have been arrested for or charged with possession of a weapon by a previous offender in Colorado, the sooner you contact Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C., the better.
Do NOT plead guilty without contacting Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C. We are here 24/7 to advise, help, and defend you. We can discuss your case over the phone, at jail, and/or at our Colorado Springs office.
Call (719) 259-5082 or send us a message online to start discussing your case.
No matter how complicated your criminal record or case may be, our attorneys can help limit the potential negative impacts while guiding you towards favorable, just resolutions.
How Our Criminal Defense Attorneys in Colorado Springs Can Help You Fight POWPO Charges
As former prosecutors with decades of criminal trial experience, our criminal defense lawyers are exceptionally skilled at anticipating the prosecution’s tactics and:
- Crafting strong defense cases for all types of weapons charges: Our team has the skills and resources to conduct thorough reinvestigations, look for new evidence, and build formidable defense cases. We’ll leave no stone unturned when it comes to your defense, and we’ll be ready to fiercely protect you in and outside of court.
- Showing the prosecutor and the court that you are a good person: Mistakes happen, and good people can end up in bad situations. Our goal is to show that you have good values and a bright future—and that the charges and cases do not reflect who you are. This can make a big difference at every point in a weapons case, from early dealings with prosecutors to closing statements in a trial and beyond.
- Working diligently to protect your rights and seeking the best possible outcomes: We will defend you as if we were defending ourselves, providing the highest quality representing in the tireless pursuit of optimal resolutions. While we always try to obtain dismissals and acquittals when possible, we also work for minimal negative consequences that serve our clients’ needs, interests, and goals.
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.