A domestic violence conviction comes with severe penalties, some of which everyone recognizes, such as potential jail time, a restraining order, counseling, and other requirements. What not everyone realizes, however, is that a domestic violence conviction can lead to some unexpected consequences. In this post, we’ll highlight one of those less-well-known consequences — restricted firearms rights.
First, What Does “Domestic Violence” Really Mean?
The definition of domestic violence, or DV, is not always well understood, so let’s clarify what DV means in Colorado.
A crime can be labeled “DV” even if it is not physically violent. The key is whether the alleged victim is someone with whom the defendant has ever had an intimate relationship with. Here’s an example of a “non-violent” action that can be labeled DV due to the relationship between the two people. Imagine Tom is charged with phone harassment of Jane. Jane is Tom’s ex-girlfriend. Because Tom and Jane had an intimate relationship, Tom’s harassment is considered domestic violence.
It is easy to understand how assaults or other physical violence fall into the category of domestic violence, but something like phone harassment doesn’t always naturally fall into that category for most people. Now that we understand what DV really means, we can move on to how it affects firearms rights.
Domestic Violence and Firearms in Colorado
Colorado incorporates federal law prohibiting the purchase or possession of a firearm or ammunition by people who are:
- Subject to domestic violence protective orders
- Convicted of domestic violence crimes
In other words, if you have a domestic violence restraining order on you, or if you have any DV convictions, you cannot buy a gun or be in possession of a gun. And, because of a federal law called the Brady Bill, these restrictions last a lifetime.
A Real-Life Example of Gun Ownership Affected by DV
It is important to understand that the ban on possessing a gun extends to more than just “ownership” of the gun. It is true that a person with a DV conviction cannot own a firearm, but the ban doesn’t end there. If you have a DV conviction, you are not even allowed to possess a gun. That includes something as basic as simply picking up a friend’s weapon.
Here at The Moorhead Law Group, we had a client who wasn’t certain what his DV status was, so he went to a gun store to see if he could buy a firearm. There he learned that he would not be permitted to purchase a firearm. That was disappointing but predictable. What happened next, however, was scary: he was later arrested merely because he had handled a gun while in the store.
We ultimately convinced the prosecutor to treat that client very leniently, but that example highlights the importance of not handling a firearm after a DV conviction.
Get the Advice You Need
The best way to protect your firearms rights is to avoid having a crime classified as domestic violence. The Moorhead Law Group is highly experienced in these cases and is here to help. Call 303-447-1400 to speak with a lawyer.