Just as in many other states, Colorado has a self-defense law that allows for the use of force to defend yourself against others.
Of course, the right is guided by several principles enshrined in the law, but it does allow for someone to use appropriate force in a situation where they believe they are in harm’s way.
In Colorado, these guiding principles are housed in what’s known as the “Make My Day” Law. And it turns out using force to protect yourself might be something that extends to Colorado businesses, too. Here’s what you need to know about the castle doctrine in Colorado.
Colorado Self-Defense Laws
In 1985, Colorado established the “Make My Day” law. This law states that renters and homeowners have the right to defend themselves and their families against an intruder.
If the person who is the legal resident of an apartment or home shoots and kills someone who was intruding, then they may be free from prosecution of murder or other homicide charges.
This doesn’t mean that you can shoot someone who steps foot onto your property for any reason. If you use lethal force against another who is breaking into your home, then you must believe that the person was going to harm you or someone else in the home.
No Duty to Retreat
While some states have laws called the duty to retreat, meaning that homeowners or renters much not use lethal force unless there’s no other option, Colorado does not require it.
If someone is unlawfully in your home or apartment and you believe they are trying to hurt you, you can use force if you feel it’s necessary.
When Does the Law Apply?
It’s not safe to assume that if someone is on your property that you can automatically use force against them. For example, if someone was in your backyard skulking around, you simply cannot step out of your back door and fire a weapon at them.
The law in Colorado only protects you from charges in cases where the intruder is within the walls of your home or apartment.
Another important thing to note about the law is that it does not apply in public spaces. While there may be other defenses available if you feel threatened in public, the “Make My Day” law is not currently on your side in public spaces, even if it’s a business you own.
That may change, though, especially for businesses, at a later date but that is the law as it stands now.
What Crimes Can Self-Defense Apply To?
Self-defense is a legal defense strategy. Even with the laws in Colorado, it still must be shown by a skilled attorney to the police and the courts that you acted in self-defense and are not liable for crimes for which you otherwise would be charged. You can make a case for self-defense when facing these charges:
This is the act of knowingly killing another person. It differs from first-degree murder because there is no planning or premeditation done. For this charge, you simply must be aware that your actions could cause the death of another person.
This is the act of intentionally hurting someone and involves the use of a deadly weapon. You can be accused of this crime if you seriously hurt another person, such as shooting someone who has entered your home.
This is the act of intentionally hurting someone but the injuries are not as severe as first-degree assault. If you can show you only hurt someone to defend yourself or another loved one in your home, then you may be able to avoid these charges.
Home invasions can be scary, but remember that you have the right to protect yourself if you feel like your life is in danger.
About the Author:
Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.