A new bill circulating through the Colorado state government may make it easier to take guns away from certain people. Specifically, judges may be allowed to seize firearms for six months or more from those who are categorized as “significant risks” under the new “Red Flag” law.
What exactly is this bill? How did it come into being?
On Dec. 31, 2017, a Douglas County sheriff was shot and killed by a man who had mental health issues. The sheriff’s death inspired this new bill.
Here’s how the process would work. If an offender’s relative, a member of the offender’s household, or a law enforcement officer files a petition claiming that someone is a “significant risk,” a judge would then consider the following issues to determine whether a significant risk is present:
- Threats or acts of violence
- Any pertinent mental health issues
- History of domestic abuse
- Use of controlled substances
- Recent purchase or acquisition of a firearm
If, after review, the judge believes the individual to be a significant risk, he or she would have the ability to issue an extreme risk protection order (ERPO). The ERPO would allow law enforcement officers to remove firearms from the possession of the offender.
After the ERPO is issued, another hearing would be held within seven days to determine whether the prohibition for possessing a firearm should be extended for six months. The first violation of the order would result in a class 2 misdemeanor charge and be subject to 3-12 months in prison. Two or more violations will be charged as a felony and subject to a prison term of up to 18 months.
Since the Colorado General Assembly is split by partisan views, and gun legislation is difficult to pass, the new bill may or may not become law. However, the possibility is yet another reason to prepare a strong defense if you have been accused of domestic violence in Colorado.
What Colorado Says about Domestic Violence and Firearm Possession
In 2013, the Colorado General Assembly passed a law that required those who are under domestic violence protective orders, as well as those who are convicted of particular domestic violence offenses, to give up possession of their firearms and ammunition.
If an individual is convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence charge against a dating partner or is under a protective order filed by a dating partner, the law does not apply.
A protective order issued in domestic violence cases may go into effect when a case is pending. The protective order may activate the federal law that prohibits someone from possessing ammunition or firearms while a case is awaiting a hearing or trial.
Within 24 hours of being served notice of a protective order, the law requires an individual to surrender all ammunition and firearms to anyone who passes a background check, or law enforcement officers. A receipt of the surrender must be filed with the court within three business days.
Colorado Domestic Violence Laws in General
Our state does not have specific laws on domestic violence. Rather, it is charged as an enhancement or aggravator to other crimes. For example, if you assault a stranger, it’s just a simple assault charge. However, if you assault someone you are in an intimate relationship with, additional domestic violence penalties will be added to your sentence.
This intimate relationship can be between spouses or former spouses, dating partners or former dating partners, and parents of the same child who may or may not have married or lived together.
Acts of violence aren’t limited to assault, either. They include intimidation, punishments, coercion, attempts to control, and attempts to seek revenge. These acts are punished more severely if carried out in conjunction with a deadly weapon.
Protective orders may be issued after charges are filed to offer protection against further violence. An alleged offender may be prohibited from any contact with the protected person(s), including children.
Violations to protective orders will result in Class 2 misdemeanor charges, which involve up to 12 months in jail and/or a $250 fine. Repeat offenses could result in Class 1 misdemeanor charges, with up to 18 months in jail and a $500 fine.
Get Legal Help for Your Domestic Violence Charges
If you are facing domestic violence charges, it’s essential that you contact a skilled Colorado criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
A knowledgeable lawyer will be able to craft the strongest possible defense strategy in order to help you fight to get your charges reduced – or even dropped altogether. You need a tough advocate who will work hard to protect your rights, including your right to bear arms. An experienced attorney will understand which defenses will work for you.
Call today for a free consultation. We will fight hard for your rights and your future.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.