Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Colorado Court of Appeals People v. Lopez 13CA1681

Decided April 23, 2105

   Lopez assaulted his wife, breaking her collarbone.  He was hanging out outside the hospital when a cop wanted to ask questions about that.  He threatened her with a knife, but apparently prefers to only beat up women who don't have tasers, so he didn't actually attack her.

   His temper bought him a menacing charge (for threatening the cop with a knife) and an obstruction charge.  After he was convicted of both, he appealed.  The court of appeals held that even though the officer didn't actually see the knife (it was found during a later search while he was being arrested), the evidence was sufficient to convict him of menacing because the emphasis of a menacing charge is properly on the defendant's conduct, not on the the victim's. 

   As far as obstruction goes... this analysis was conducted for the way that the obstruction statute read in 2011 (it has since been appealed).  Because of some unusual wording in the statute, Lopez argued that someone can only be convicted of obstructing a peace officer if the peace officer is making an arrest.  What the statute actually said) is more akin to what you would expect from an obstruction law (don't interfere with the police...), with an added caveat that if the police happen to be making an arrest then it doesn't matter if the arrest is illegal, you still aren't allowed to obstruct them.  Although the statute is pretty clear if you read it and think critically about what it says (said, that is), the court chose to explain it in a metaphor involving citrus fruit.  Not kidding, go read it it.  I had a good laugh.

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