CO 13-80-119. Damages sustained during commission of a felonious act or in flight from the commission of a felonious act

CO 13-80-119. Damages sustained during commission of a felonious act or in flight from the commission of a felonious act

State: Colorado

Colorado Revised (C.R.S.) 2016

TITLE 13. COURTS AND COURT PROCEDURE

LIMITATION OF ACTIONS

ARTICLE 80.LIMITATIONS – PERSONAL ACTIONS

13-80-119. Damages sustained during commission of a felonious act or in flight from the commission of a felonious act

(1) No person, his or her estate, or his or her personal representative shall have a right to recover damages sustained during the commission of or during immediate flight from an act that is defined by any law of this state or the United States to be a felony, if the conditions stipulated in this section apply.

(2)

(a) The court shall dismiss the action for damages and award attorney fees and costs to the person against whom the action was brought if the person bringing the action, on whose behalf an action has been brought, or in the case of a wrongful death action, the decedent, has been convicted of the felony or has been adjudicated a delinquent as a result of the commission of the act, unless the damage was caused by the willful and deliberate act of another person; except that such exception shall not apply if the person who caused the injuries acted:

(I) Under a reasonable belief that physical force was reasonable and appropriate to prevent injury to himself or herself or to others, using a degree of force that he or she reasonably believed necessary for that purpose; or

(II) Under a reasonable belief that physical force was reasonable and appropriate to prevent the commission of a felony, using a degree of force that he or she reasonably believed necessary for that purpose; or

(III) As a peace officer, as such person is described in section 16-2.5-101, C.R.S., acting within the scope of the officer’s employment and acting pursuant to section 18-1-707, C.R.S.

(a.5) The court shall dismiss the action for damages and award attorney fees and costs to the person against whom the action was brought if the person against whom the action was brought is found not guilty of criminal charges for causing the injuries sustained by the person who committed the felony or act that is defined as a felony, or in the case of a wrongful death action for causing the decedent’s death, as a result of the commission of the act, unless the damage was caused by the willful and deliberate act of another person; except that such exception shall not apply if the person who caused the injuries acted:

(I) Under a reasonable belief that physical force was reasonable and appropriate to prevent injury to himself or herself or to others, using a degree of force that he or she reasonably believed necessary for that purpose; or

(II) Under a reasonable belief that physical force was reasonable and appropriate to prevent the commission of a felony, using a degree of force that he or she reasonably believed necessary for that purpose; or

(III) As a peace officer, as such person is described in section 16-2.5-101, C.R.S., acting within the scope of the officer’s employment and acting pursuant to section 18-1-707, C.R.S.

(a.6) For purposes of paragraph (a.5) of this subsection (2), a finding of not guilty of criminal charges does not include a finding of not guilty by reason of insanity or a finding of not guilty by reason of impaired mental condition.

(b) If paragraph (a.5) of this subsection (2) does not apply and if the person bringing the action for damages or on whose behalf an action has been brought is not convicted of a felony or adjudicated a delinquent as a result of the commission of the act or in the case of a wrongful death action, the court shall submit to the jury hearing the damages claim the issue of whether or not, by a preponderance of the evidence, the person committed an act that is defined by any law of this state or the United States to be a felony. The court shall dismiss the action and award attorney fees and costs to the person against whom the action was brought if the court or jury determines that the damage was sustained during the commission of or during immediate flight from an act that is defined by any law of this state or the United States to be a felony, unless the damage was caused by the willful and deliberate act of another person; except that such exception shall not apply if the person who caused the injury acted:

(I) Under a reasonable belief that physical force was reasonable and appropriate to prevent injury to himself or herself or to others, using a degree of force that he or she reasonably believed necessary for that purpose; or

(II) Under a reasonable belief that physical force was reasonable and appropriate to prevent the commission of a felony, using a degree of force that he or she reasonably believed necessary for that purpose; or

(III) As a peace officer, as such person is described in section 16-2.5-101, C.R.S., acting within the scope of the officer’s employment and acting pursuant to section 18-1-707, C.R.S.

HISTORY: Source: L. 87: Entire section added, p. 568, § 7, effective July 1.L. 93: Entire section amended, p. 464, § 1, effective July 1.L. 98: Entire section amended, p. 386, § 1, effective August 5.L. 2003: (2)(a)(III), (2)(a.5)(III), and (2)(b)(III) amended, p. 1620, § 32, effective August 6.

ANNOTATION

The legislative intent underlying the statute here at issue is to allow a citizen to prevent the commission of a felony, or flight by the felon, by the use of physical force, so long as the citizen reasonably believes that such use is reasonable and appropriate and the degree of force used is reasonable without incurring liability from any injury sustained by the other party. Molnar v. Law, 776 P.2d 1156 (Colo. App. 1989).

It is irrelevant whether the injury is sustained as the result of the deliberate application of reasonable force or by the negligent use of physical force that is otherwise reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances. Molnar v. Law, 776 P.2d 1156 (Colo. App. 1989).

The issue of reasonableness of defendant’s actions under the statute was one for resolution by the jury. Molnar v. Law, 776 P.2d 1156 (Colo. App. 1989).

It is unreasonable and contrary to legislative intent to interpret the statute to mean protection for the citizen ceased at the very moment that his actions were successful in causing the cessation of the unlawful actions by the other party. Until the incident is brought to a close, it cannot be said, at least as a matter of law, that the citizen is not still in the act of preventing injury to himself or others or of preventing the commission of a felony. Molnar v. Law, 776 P.2d 1156 (Colo. App. 1989).

Court did not abuse its discretion in granting attorney fees to the defendant since the requirements of this section were satisfied. Molnar v. Law, 776 P.2d 1156 (Colo. App. 1989).

Dismissal of state common-law claims and award of attorney fees based on this section inappropriate where no finding was made that person acted in reasonable belief that actions were required to prevent the commission of a felony. Crouse v. City of Colo. Springs, 766 P.2d 655 (Colo. 1988) (decided under former § 13-80-129).

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