Pepper Spray Laws – Colorado

Colorado is a surprisingly permissive state when it comes to pepper sprays and tear gas sprays, considering they have started to show some anti-second Amendment bias in recent years.

Civilians may own any formulation of defensive spray in the state, and may possess and carry a canister holding any quantity with no restrictions. All kinds of pepper sprays and other defensive sprays are freely sold in the state with no prohibitions.

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Colorado affirms the rights of citizens to use a reasonable amount of force in defense of themselves and others, and no defensive spray is classified as a “weapon” properly.

Instead they are recognized as defensive tools, and only warrant criminal charges in use if they are used unlawfully or improperly.

So long as you are not behaving badly in Colorado with your pepper spray, you have little to worry about.

Below you will find a summary containing everything you need to know for possessing and carrying pepper spray in the state as well as relevant state statutes concerning its use at the very end.

Fast Facts

  • Colorado does not have any restrictions on quantity for civilian carry of pepper spray, or other defensive sprays.
  • All common defense spray formulations are permitted in Colorado: CN, CS and OC sprays are okay, as are blends.
  • Defensive sprays are not categorized as “weapons” in the state statutes.

Overview

Colorado is a surprisingly friendly state concerning the use of defensive sprays. Civilians may obtain any variety of defensive spray that they prefer and carry it in any quantity that they wish.

If you want OC, you can have your OC. If you like your tear gas, you can keep your tear gas. Large or small you can have it all when it comes to defensive sprays in the Centennial State.

Colorado also affirms citizens’ rights to self-defense, and that includes using pepper spray or some other defensive spray in response to an unlawful use of force. You may use pepper spray to defend yourself, defend someone else and in certain more limited circumstances even defend property from theft.

Note that while Colorado does not have any specific statute that criminalizes the improper use of pepper spray and he said use can definitely be charged under assault or reckless endangerment statutes.

Conclusion

Colorado is a good state for citizens who want to carry defensive sprays for personal protection. Pretty much anything goes regarding formulation and quantity of spray.

This affords the citizens of Colorado as well as visitors plenty of choice when it comes to picking a spray that serves their purposes, and Colorado remains a reasonably dependable state for affirming citizens’ rights to self defense using those sprays.

Assuming one does not go around using their spray irresponsibly, you won’t get much trouble from the law in Colorado.

Relevant State Statutes

You’ll find the exact text of several Colorado State statutes that concern the use of pepper spray.

Note that the word of pepper spray, defensive spray or chemical spray is hardly mentioned throughout the state statutes; that does not mean that its use does not fall under the purview of other statutes in the chapter!

18-1-703. Use of physical force – special relationships.

(1) The use of physical force upon another person which would otherwise constitute an offense is justifiable and not criminal under any of the following circumstances:

(a) A parent, guardian, or other person entrusted with the care and supervision of a minor or an incompetent person, and a teacher or other person entrusted with the care and supervision of a minor, may use reasonable and appropriate physical force upon the minor or incompetent person when and to the extent it is reasonably necessary and appropriate to maintain discipline or promote the welfare of the minor or incompetent person.

(b) A superintendent or other authorized official of a jail, prison, or correctional institution may, in order to maintain order and discipline, use reasonable and appropriate physical force when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to maintain order and discipline, but he may use deadly physical force only when he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury.

(c) A person responsible for the maintenance of order in a common carrier of passengers, or a person acting under his direction, may use reasonable and appropriate physical force when and to the extent that it is necessary to maintain order and discipline, but he may use deadly physical force only when it is reasonably necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury.

(d) A person acting under a reasonable belief that another person is about to commit suicide or to inflict serious bodily injury upon himself may use reasonable and appropriate physical force upon that person to the extent that it is reasonably necessary to thwart the result.

(e) A duly licensed physician, advanced practice nurse, or a person acting under his or her direction, may use reasonable and appropriate physical force for the purpose of administering a recognized form of treatment that he or she reasonably believes to be adapted to promoting the physical or mental health of the patient if:

(I) The treatment is administered with the consent of the patient, or if the patient is a minor or an incompetent person, with the consent of his parent, guardian, or other person entrusted with his care and supervision; or

(II) The treatment is administered in an emergency when the physician or advanced practice nurse reasonably believes that no one competent to consent can be consulted and that a reasonable person, wishing to safeguard the welfare of the patient, would consent.

18-1-704. Use of physical force in defense of a person.

(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and he may use a degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for that purpose.

(2) Deadly physical force may be used only if a person reasonably believes a lesser degree of force is inadequate and:

(a) The actor has reasonable ground to believe, and does believe, that he or another person is in imminent danger of being killed or of receiving great bodily injury; or

(b) The other person is using or reasonably appears about to use physical force against an occupant of a dwelling or business establishment while committing or attempting to commit burglary as defined in sections 18-4-202 to 18-4-204; or

(c) The other person is committing or reasonably appears about to commit kidnapping as defined in section 18-3-301 or 18-3-302, robbery as defined in section 18-4-301 or 18-4-302, sexual assault as set forth in section 18-3-402, or in section 18-3-403 as it existed prior to July 1, 2000, or assault as defined in sections 18-3-202 and 18-3-203.

(3) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1) of this section, a person is not justified in using physical force if:

(a) With intent to cause bodily injury or death to another person, he provokes the use of unlawful physical force by that other person; or Colorado Revised Statutes 2019 Page 32 of 695 Uncertified Printout

(b) He is the initial aggressor; except that his use of physical force upon another person under the circumstances is justifiable if he withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to the other person his intent to do so, but the latter nevertheless continues or threatens the use of unlawful physical force; or

(c) The physical force involved is the product of a combat by agreement not specifically authorized by law.

(4) In a case in which the defendant is not entitled to a jury instruction regarding selfdefense as an affirmative defense, the court shall allow the defendant to present evidence, when relevant, that he or she was acting in self-defense. If the defendant presents evidence of selfdefense, the court shall instruct the jury with a self-defense law instruction. The court shall instruct the jury that it may consider the evidence of self-defense in determining whether the defendant acted recklessly, with extreme indifference, or in a criminally negligent manner. However, the self-defense law instruction shall not be an affirmative defense instruction and the prosecuting attorney shall not have the burden of disproving self-defense. This section shall not apply to strict liability crimes.

18-1-706. Use of physical force in defense of property.

A person is justified in using reasonable and appropriate physical force upon another person when and to the extent that he reasonably believes it necessary to prevent what he reasonably believes to be an attempt by the other person to commit theft, criminal mischief, or criminal tampering involving property, but he may use deadly physical force under these circumstances only in defense of himself or another as described in section 18-1-704.

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