Federal law, along with state and local legislations, target certain rights for people convicted of perpetrating acts of domestic violence.
Gun ownership is one of the first and mo
st abrupt changes they look to enact. If you are convicted of domestic violence in Colorado or have a protective order against you, federal law prohibits you from purchasing or possessing a firearm.
Colorado law, however, adds certain mandatory restrictions regarding firearm ownership on top of federal law that you will be required to follow. HB21-1255, a recent bill signed by Governor Jared Polis, makes these restrictions more strict and more regulated.
It is important to know what you are legally required to do in the event that you are convicted of domestic violence. In this post, we will discuss the legal definition of domestic violence in Colorado, the penalties you may face as the subject of a protective order issuance, and the substance of HB21-1255.
Domestic Violence Laws in Colorado
Domestic violence laws prohibit physical acts of violence against people and property that occur between two people who share or have shared an intimate relationship. Acts of violence include:
● Actual or threatened physical harm
● Sexual assault
● Criminal harassment
● Destroying or damaging personal shared property
Under Colorado statutes, domestic violence is an act of or threat of violence against a person with whom the aggressor maintains or has had an intimate relationship.
An intimate relationship means a relationship between
● Current or former spouses
● Current or former unmarried couples
● Parents of the same child
If you know that you have a tendency to commit acts in agnerthat you soon regret, it will be helpful for you to know your own triggers. Next time you may notice these feelings start to surface, take a break. Your family’s health, your children’s health, your health are all on the line.
Penalties if Convicted of Domestic Violence
The penalties for a conviction of domestic violence will be the same as if you committed the offense without the intimate relationship. The only difference is that you will also be required to complete a domestic violence treatment program and a treatment evaluation.
These are possible consequences you may face if convicted of domestic violence:
● Potential prison or jail time
● No contact orders
● Lifetime bar on possessing firearms
● Difficulty finding or keeping a job due to charges showing up on background checks
Any municipal, county, district, juvenile, or probate court may consider issuing a civil protective order against you if convicted of domestic abuse. These protective orders act to restrain you from having any contact with the “protected person(s)”.
A judge’s job is to consider all evidence, and if he or she finds that imminent danger exists to the person(s) seeking a protective order, the judge may issue a “temporary civil protective order”. Upon the issuing of this order, you will be required to appear for a hearing.
This hearing allows the court to make the temporary order a permanent order of protection if they determine that:
● Acts constituting grounds for the issuance of a permanent protective order were committed, and
● Such acts will likely continue if unrestrained
Violating a civil protective order is a Class 2 misdemeanor, which carries a 12 months maximum jail sentence, a $250 fine, or both. Repeat violations of protective orders increase in penalty severity.
Losing Your Right to Own a Firearm
Colorado requires a protective order to be issued whenever a criminal case is pending to prevent further harassing, molesting, intimidating, or tampering.
If domestic violence is involved, federal law is triggered. This protective order, even if temporary, prohibits the purchase or possession of a firearm or ammunition.
Federal mandates prohibit people subject to domestic violence protective orders or convicted of certain domestic violence crimes from purchasing or possessing a firearm or ammunition.
However, in some cases, even when the federal law is not triggered, the court may prohibit the defendant from possessing firearms during the period in which the case is pending further action.
New Bill Strengthens Guidelines on Gun Ownership for Convicted
One recent bill, HB21-1255 is Governor Jared Polis’ attempt to keep guns out of the hands of people convicted of domestic abuse.
Colorado law, however, already orders people who are the subject of a domestic violence-related protection order to turn in their guns not more than 24 hours after being served with a protective order.
The purpose of HB21-1255, on the other hand, creates a process to ensure that this happens, utilizing a scheduled compliance hearing. A person convicted of domestic violence and served with a permanent protection order will now be required to provide information about all the guns they own and where they are stored. The information is required to be submitted within seven business days of the order.
About the Author:
Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.