The People of the State of Colorado, Petitioner-Appellee, In the Interest of L.C., Juvenile-Appellant.
County District Court No. 14JD739 Honorable G. David Miller,
Cynthia H. Coffman, Attorney General, Carmen Moraleda,
Assistant Attorney General, Denver, Colorado, for
Douglas K. Wilson, Colorado State Public Defender, Ryann S.
Hardman, Deputy State Public Defender, Denver, Colorado, for
1 L.C., a juvenile, appeals the district court judgment
adjudicating him a delinquent based on his commission of acts
that, if committed by an adult, would constitute the offenses
of unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon and violating a
protection order. L.C. challenges the constitutionality of
the concealed weapon statute and of the protection order, and
he contends that the evidence was insufficient to establish
that he committed the charged offenses. We are unpersuaded by
his contentions and therefore affirm the judgment.
2 In September 2014, a police officer observed L.C. in a
public park after hours. The officer contacted L.C., obtained
his name and date of birth, and discovered that L.C. was
subject to a protection order. That protection order, entered
against L.C. in an unrelated case in 2013, provided, among
other things, that L.C. was not to "possess or control a
firearm or other weapon."
3 The officer then asked to search the backpack that L.C. was
carrying. L.C. began pulling objects out of the backpack, but
avoided one compartment. When the officer looked in that
compartment, he found a knife with a five and one-half inch
blade inside a sheath.
4 L.C. was arrested. The People filed a petition in
delinquency, charging L.C. with violation of a protection
order, unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon, and trespass.
After a bench trial, the magistrate found L.C. not guilty of
trespass but guilty of the other two offenses. He adjudicated
L.C. delinquent and sentenced him to probation. L.C.
petitioned for district court review, arguing that the
concealed weapon statute was void for vagueness and that the
original protection order was invalid. The district court
denied the petition in a written order, and this appeal
Concealed Weapon Offense
5 L.C. contends that section 18-12-105, C.R.S. 2016, which
defines the offense of unlawfully carrying a concealed
weapon, is unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. We
conclude that the statute is not unconstitutionally vague,
and we do not reach the merits of his overbreadth argument
because he did not raise it in the district court.
6 Whether a statute is constitutional is an issue that we
review de novo. Hinojos-Mendoza v. People, 169 P.3d
662, 668 (Colo. 2007). Statutes are presumed to be
constitutional, and a party challenging a statute's
constitutionality has the burden of showing that the statute
is unconstitutional beyond a reasonable doubt. People v.
Mojica-Simental, 73 P.3d 15, 18 (Colo. 2003). If there
is more than one possible interpretation of the statute, we
must adopt the constitutional construction. Id.
General Legal Principles
7 To comport with the requirements of due process under the
United States and Colorado Constitutions, statutes must
define criminal offenses "with sufficient definiteness
that ordinary people can understand what conduct is
prohibited and in a manner that does not encourage arbitrary
and discriminatory enforcement." Kolender v.
Lawson, 461 U.S. 352, 357 (1983); accord People v.
Stotz, 2016 COA 16, ¶ 25. A statute is
unconstitutionally vague if it "forbids or requires the
doing of an act in terms so vague that persons of ordinary
intelligence must necessarily guess as to its meaning and
differ as to its application." People v. Gross,
830 P.2d 933, 937 (Colo. 1992) (quoting People v.
Becker, 759 P.2d 26, 31 (Colo. 1988)).
8 The requirement that a statute be reasonably definite
serves two important purposes: (1) it provides fair warning
of proscribed conduct, so that persons may guide their
actions accordingly; and (2) it ensures that statutory
standards are sufficiently specific so that police officers
and other actors in the criminal justice system can avoid
arbitrary and discriminatory application. Id.
9 In assessing whether a statute is reasonably definite, we
give words and phrases used in the statute their generally
accepted meanings. People v. Janousek, 871 P.2d
1189, 1196 (Colo. 1994). A statute may be sufficiently
definite even if it does not contain precise definitions of
every word or phrase ...