Colorado Revised Statutes Annotated
Title 18. Criminal Code (Arts. 1 — 26)
Article 1. Provisions Applicable to Offenses Generally (Pts. 1 — 11)
Part 7. Justification and Exemptions from Criminal Responsibility (§§ 18-1-701 — 18-1-714)

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

(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
(b) He or she is the initial aggressor; except that his or her use of physical force upon another person under the circumstances is justifiable if he or she withdraws from the encounter and effectively communicates to the other person his or her intent to do so, but the latter nevertheless continues or threatens the use of unlawful physical force;
(c) The physical force involved is the product of a combat by agreement not specifically authorized by law; or
(d) The use of physical force against another is based on the discovery of, knowledge about, or potential disclosure of the victim’s actual or perceived gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, including but not limited to under circumstances in which the victim made an unwanted nonforcible romantic or sexual advance toward the defendant. Nothing in this subsection (3)(d) precludes the admission of evidence, which is otherwise admissible, of a victim’s or witness’s conduct, behavior, or statements.

(4) In a case in which the defendant is not entitled to a jury instruction regarding self-defense 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 self-defense, 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.

(5) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires:

(a) “Gender identity” and “gender expression” have the same meaning as in section 18-1-901 (3)(h.5).
(b) “Intimate relationship” has the same meaning as in section 18-6-800.3.
(c) “Sexual orientation” has the same meaning as in section 18-9-121 (5)(b).


Source: L. 71:R&RE, p. 409, § 1.C.R.S. 1963:§ 40-1-804. L. 72:P. 274, § 1. L. 75:(2)(c) amended, p. 632, § 4, effective July 1. L. 79:(2)(c) amended, p. 726, § 1, effective July 1. L. 81:(2)(a) and (3)(a) amended, p. 981, § 3, effective May 13. L. 2000:(2)(c) amended, p. 703, § 27, effective July 1. L. 2003:(4) added, p. 795, § 1, effective March 25. L. 2020:(3)(b) and (3)(c) amended and (3)(d) and (5) added,(SB 20-221), ch. 279, p. 1365, § 3, effective July 13.