Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

A variety of legal scenarios may have an impact on your right to possess firearms in Colorado. If you’re charged with certain crimes in Colorado, your firearm rights as well as your freedom may be at stake, and you’ll need to be advised and represented by a Denver firearms attorney.

The U.S. Constitution guarantees a general right to bear arms, but as you probably know, several state and federal laws directly impact the right to possess firearms. What follows is a brief discussion of those laws – and your gun rights – in the State of Colorado.

Who may possess firearms legally in this state? What charges and criminal convictions are a threat to your firearm rights? How will a Denver criminal defense lawyer defend those rights on your behalf? Keep reading for the answers to these questions.

What is Required by Federal Gun Laws?

Federal law establishes minimum standards for gun ownership. If you are convicted in any state of a felony charge or a misdemeanor arising from a domestic violence incident, unless and until you receive a full pardon for that conviction, you may not buy or possess a firearm in the U.S.

Federal law also provides minimum standards for state gun laws, and states may impose more specific restrictions on firearms ownership. For example, Colorado’s “red flag” law now allows the Colorado courts to take away guns – temporarily – from individuals who may be dangerous.

Under the red flag law, after a request from a citizen or a police officer, a gun owner may be ordered to surrender his or her guns for fourteen days, and the order may be extended to 364 days.

Not every request to remove someone’s guns is granted. Colorado judges work to ensure that the red flag law is not being abused and does not violate anyone’s rights.

Who May Not Possess Firearms in Colorado?

The State of Colorado prohibits the following persons from buying, owning, possessing, carrying, or using a firearm:

  1. persons convicted of various (but not all) felony charges
  2. persons convicted of conspiring or attempting to commit certain felonies
  3. anyone adjudicated as a minor for an act that is a felony when committed by adults

Colorado law prohibits an individual from buying, owning, possessing, carrying, or using a firearm after convictions for particular felonies and domestic violence misdemeanors as well as during the period of time that an individual is subject to a criminal or civil protection order.

When is a Request to Purchase a Firearm Denied?

When firearms dealers ask the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for a background check prior to a gun transaction, the CBI will deny the sale and purchase if the transaction would violate state or federal law or if the prospective buyer:

  1. has been arrested for or is charged with a crime that would prohibit owning, buying, possessing, or using a firearm, and there has been no final disposition of the case
  2.  has been indicted or has a felony complaint for a charge that, upon conviction, is punishable with a prison sentence longer than one year
  3. has received a conviction within the last five years (and after June 19, 2021) for any of these Colorado misdemeanor charges:

a. child abuse or criminally victimizing any at-risk individual
b. crimes motivated by bias
c. cruelty to animals
d. harassment or violating a criminal or civil protection order
e. possession of an illegal weapon
f. sexual assault or illegal sexual contact
g. third-degree assault
h. unlawfully supplying a firearm other than a handgun to a minor

What if Someone Obtains a Firearm Illegally?

If you are not allowed to buy, own, possess, carry, or use a firearm in Colorado, and you knowingly and unlawfully obtain and possess a firearm, the charge is a Class 4 felony punishable upon conviction with a prison sentence and a costly fine.

The private purchase and sale of firearms – that is, transactions between non-licensed parties – is legal if both parties comply with all applicable federal and state laws. An illegal firearm transaction is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable upon conviction with a jail sentence and a fine.

If you are charged with purchasing or possessing a firearm illegally in or near the Denver area, you will need the advice and defense representation that a Denver firearms attorney provides, and you will need to schedule a legal consultation with that attorney immediately.

What is the Best Way to Protect Your Gun Rights?

It is not easy to have your right to bear arms restored after that right has been removed in Colorado. In most cases, restoring someone’s gun rights requires a full pardon from the governor’s office for the conviction that led to the removal of that person’s gun rights.

To qualify for a pardon, an individual must demonstrate good character, and at least ten years must have passed since the completion of the sentence for the crime that is being pardoned. Speaking frankly, pardons are rare in Colorado, and ten years is a considerable length of time.

The best way to protect your right to bear arms in Colorado is to avoid a criminal conviction that would entail the loss of that right. If you are charged with a felony or with any crime of domestic violence in Colorado, contact a Denver criminal defense lawyer at once.

What Will a Defense Lawyer Do on Your Behalf?

If you are charged with a felony or with any crime of domestic violence in or near Denver, your defense attorney will investigate the charge against you, compile and review the evidence, interrogate witnesses, and develop an aggressive and effective defense strategy on your behalf.

Your defense attorney will seek first to have the charge against you dropped or dismissed. Your attorney may also negotiate a plea bargain that reduces the charge against you. A conviction for a lesser crime, in many cases, may not pose a legal threat to your gun rights.

But if you did not commit the crime you are charged with, and if the charge cannot be dropped or dismissed, you should insist on a trial by jury, where your defense lawyer will explain to the jurors what actually happened and why they should find you not guilty.

Avoiding a criminal conviction is the best and most basic way to protect your right to bear arms in Colorado. This can’t be stressed strongly enough: If you are charged with any crime in or near Denver, seek legal help at once by contacting a Colorado defense lawyer as quickly as possible.

Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.