Russell Hebets Oct. 15, 2012

Many people who have had trouble with the law do not wish to have repeat encounters with the criminal justice system. A convicted felon has many restrictions placed on their activities, and one of the more important and complex restrictions involves what types of weapons a convicted felon can and cannot possess in the state of Colorado. Since many Coloradoans enjoy the outdoors we are frequently asked if felons can possess a knife or other equipment for hunting or fishing.

According to Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S) 8-12-108 a felon cannot possess a weapon. This would include any type of gun or crossbow for hunting or any other purpose. However, there may be circumstances that would permit a felon to possess a knife in Colorado.

C.R.S. 18-12-101 defines a knife as a “blade over three and one-half inches in length”, or “any other dangerous instrument capable of inflicting cutting, stabbing, or tearing wounds”. In general, to reduce the risk of an offense you should possess a blade that is less than three and one-half inches. Additionally, the law does make an exception for certain kinds of sports use. It says a knife “does not include hunting or fishing knife carried for sports use”. Therefore, a knife can be possessed as long as it is a hunting or fishing knife carried for sports use.

If you wish to be extra cautious go into the outdoors with someone else and have them transport your blade unless you are actually using it. This way there is no question about what the intended use or purpose of the knife is, since it is only in your possession while using it. As a further caution you could also only purchase a knife that is less than three and one-half inches. The reason for these cautions is that this can be a fairly technical area of law. An individual park ranger or police officer may not know every nuance. If you allow someone else to possess your knife except when using it for approved sporting purposes this will provide you with the greatest protection. All felons should use caution and plan appropriately if they plan to do anything with a weapon even if it does follow the letter of the law.