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People v. Johnson.

2021 COA 102. No. 18CA1212.  Unlawful Purchase of Firearms—Straw Purchaser Statute—Transfer of Firearm.

July 29, 2021

Defendant visited a pawnshop with Trujillo, her “common law husband,” and purchased a firearm. Defendant knew that Trujillo was ineligible to possess a firearm under the terms of a protection order entered against him and because he was a convicted felon. Defendant stored the firearm in a closet in her apartment where Trujillo could access it. Police arrested Trujillo at defendant’s apartment complex for violating the protection order and he had the firearm in his pocket. Defendant was found guilty of violating CRS § 18-12-111(1), the “straw purchaser” statute.

On appeal, defendant contended that there was insufficient evidence to support her conviction because a “transfer” for purposes of CRS § 18-12-111(1) requires more than merely providing the ineligible person with access to a firearm. A transfer under CRS § 18-12-111(1) occurs when a person knowingly purchases a firearm for the purpose of sharing it with an ineligible person. Here, the evidence allowed the jury to reasonably infer that defendant purchased the firearm knowing that Trujillo could not lawfully possess it and would access it to protect himself. Therefore, sufficient evidence supported defendant’s conviction.

Defendant also argued that the trial court erred by allowing the prosecutor to ask Trujillo whether defense counsel had previously represented him. Because the court sustained defendant’s objection before he answered the question and provided the jury with a cautionary instruction that defense counsel did not have a conflict of interest, any error was harmless.

Defendant further argued that CRS § 18-12-111(1) was unconstitutional as applied to her and unconstitutionally vague on its face because the criminal code does not define “transfer.” Here, though defense counsel acknowledged that CRS § 18-12-111(1) lacks a definition of “transfer,” she expressly rejected the prosecutor’s suggestion that the court provide the jury with a definition. Therefore, defendant intentionally relinquished a known right and waived her argument regarding the statute’s constitutionality.

The judgment was affirmed.


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