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What does Fido have to do with violent crime cases?

What has a wet nose, perky ears, a wagging tail and could be classified as a dangerous or deadly weapon in a criminal case? That's right. According to a New York Times piece, a dog can be seen as a weapon in cases involving assault or even murder charges. 

Colorado criminal law calls for the escalation of a violent crime charge if a deadly weapon is used in pursuit of an alleged crime. Initially, that brings to mind a gun as a weapon, but other objects can also be labeled as such. Is a dog like a gun, knife or bat, for example? That determination will likely depend on the court that a case is heard in. 

Though dogs are popular as pets throughout Colorado and the rest of the world, they aren't as commonly involved in crime as the more commonly classified weapons. Therefore, there aren't tons of cases that have required to set a clear record regarding whether a deadly weapon can be a dog.

What the recent Times piece does prove is that weapons charges can be complex, especially if a dog might be involved. If a Colorado court were to view a dog that causes someone's injuries as a deadly weapon, a defendant's felony assault case could reach felony level. That means more serious sentencing if the case resulted in a guilty verdict.

Someone who is charged with a violent crime can try to mitigate the situation by working with an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Whether a charge is based on an incident with a firearm or Fido, a defendant should take the matter seriously.

Source: The New York Times, "Instruments of Danger in Weapons Case Were Dogs, Authorities Say," J. David Goodman, Oct. 6, 2013  

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