Obstructing highway or other passageway in Denver is a crime that can result from protesting or disobeying police. If law enforcement determines a person or group of people appear to be causing a disruption, criminal charges can follow. As our nation and state experience protests to COVID-19 restrictions, it is important to understand Colorado's laws regarding protests, lawful assembly, and even funerals. Consulting an experienced defense attorney can be very beneficial if facing a violation of Colorado's protest laws.
What is Obstructing Highway or Other Passageway in Colorado?
While some peaceful protests don't end in criminal charges, police often use an arrest to end certain demonstrations. CRS 18-9-107 defines the specific violations of obstructing a highway or other passageway in Denver, Lakewood, and Aurora:
- “an individual or corporation commits an offense if without legal privilege such individual or corporation intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly:
- obstructs a highway, street, sidewalk, railway, waterway, building entrance, elevator, aisle, stairway, or hallway to which the public or a substantial group of the public has access or any other place used for the passage of persons, vehicles, or conveyances, whether the obstruction arises from his acts alone or from his acts and the acts of others; or
- disobeys a reasonable request or order to move issued by a person the individual or corporation knows to be a peace officer, a firefighter, or a person with authority to control the use of the premises, to prevent obstruction of a highway or passageway or to maintain public safety by dispersing those gathered in dangerous proximity to a fire, riot, or other hazard.”
Protestors surrounding an entrance to a building, blocking a street, or refusing to move when asked by police or firefighters are examples of this crime in Colorado.
Penalties for a Protesting Misdemeanor in Colorado
Each protesting offense is different. Therefore, the penalties are as well. Obstructing highway or other passageway is a class 3 misdemeanor in Denver, Lakewood, and Aurora. Conviction can lead to:
- up to 6 months in county jail,
- fines of up to $750
However, if the actions disrupt a funeral or funeral procession, a class 2 misdemeanor applies. Protests against government actions and restrictions that escalate can also lead to more severe charges. Inciting a Riot or Disorderly Conduct are common charges that accompany peaceful protests gone bad.
Denver Lawyer for Protest Offenses
Allegations of a protest offense require representation from a particularly skilled criminal lawyer. There are defenses to these misdemeanor crimes that may apply to your unique situation. Perhaps you were attempting to leave when arrested, you were an innocent bystander, or passageways weren't blocked. Nevertheless, contact our office for a free consultation. We offer affordable fees in addition to flexible payment plans for those facing charges related to protesting throughout Colorado.
So, if you or someone you know is facing a charge from protesting in Colorado, be smart. Contact the determined defense lawyers at O'Malley and Sawyer, LLC at 303-830-0880. Together, we can protect your future.
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo