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Domestic Violence and Gun Rights in Colorado Criminal Cases

H. Michael Steinberg Colorado Domestic Violence and Gun Rights Lawyer

Domestic Violence is a crime that can permanently deprive you of the right to bear arms. Domestic violence and restraining orders can affect your ability to hunt, collect, and protect yourself with a gun.

Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence

It is a federal crime to possess a firearm following a conviction of a state misdemeanor crime of domestic violence. Believe it or not, push your girlfriend and you may be barred from possessing firearms for life.

What is a “misdemeanor crime of domestic violence?”

A misdemeanor crime of domestic violence requires that the misdemeanor has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force or the use of a deadly weapon against an intimate partner.

Domestic Violence Colorado Definition

“Domestic violence” is an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom you have been involved in an “intimate relationship.” It also includes crimes against a partner’s property, when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge.“
” Intimate relationship”

Means a relationship between spouses, former spouses, past or present unmarried couples, or persons who are both parents of the same child.
Federal vs. State definition.

Colorado’s definition of domestic violence is broader than the federal definition. . So, it is possible to be guilty of a state domestic violence misdemeanor and not lose your right to possess or use firearms.

EXAMPLES

1. Smashing a beer bottle against a wall during an argument would often amount to “criminal mischief-domestic violence” in Colorado. But, it would not bar possession of firearms because there is no attempted use of physical force against a partner.
2. “Harassment—strike, shove, kick—domestic violence” would forever bar the use of firearms because it involves the use of force.
3. “Harassment-Domestic Violence” involving insulting language or telephone abuse would not prevent possession of firearms because this activity does involve the use of force.
4. But “Harassment-Domestic Violence” involving a verbal threat to shoot your partner with a gun would bar the use of firearms because it involves threatened use of a deadly weapon.

Deferred Judgments and Sentences (DJ&S)

Defendants in domestic violence misdemeanors sometimes are offered or seek a DJ&S. In this arrangement, the defendant agrees to plead guilty and perform a sentence with the understanding that the case will be dismissed based on future good behavior. What about gun rights during the period of the DJ&S, which can last for 2 years? This question has not been clearly answered in Color ado. In my view, Federal Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms regulations do not regard DJ&S as convictions. A word of caution: The terms of the DJ&S may prevent possession of firearms.

Firearms and Restraining Orders

Restraining orders, now known as “protection” orders, can also deprive you of your right to possess firearms. A restraining order, which meets the following conditions makes it illegal to possess a firearm:

  • It was issued after you had notice, and an opportunity to be heard;
  • It restrains you from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner.
  • It includes a judge’s finding that you are a threat to the safety of or prohibits the use of force against an intimate partner.

Role of a Defense Lawyer

A defense lawyer can help you in seven important ways if you are charged with a domestic violence offense or subject to a restraining order involving an intimate partner.

  • He can speak to the alleged victim right away, even though you are restrained from doing so..
  • He can go to court quickly to ask a judge to modify your restraining order so you can contact your partner and move back into your home.
  • He can try to negotiate a plea bargain with the district attorney that allows you to keep and use your firearms.
  • He can navigate difficult issues like hearsay evidence, recanting victims, and expert witnesses and try your case to a jury.
  • He can help you in sentencing, if you are convicted.
  • If you are subject to a civil restraining (protection) order, he can try to get the restraining order modified or dismissed.
  • If you have a domestic violence problem, he can help you stop the cycle of violence and take control of your life.

Other Articles of Interest:

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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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