Understanding Colorado’s “Red Flag” Law

Colorado passed its “red flag” law in 2019, allowing family members or law enforcement to request temporarily confiscating firearms from individuals deemed a threat. 

While proponents argue these laws save lives by preventing suicides and other gun deaths, critics say they violate due process rights and the ability to defend oneself. There are also concerns over the potential for false, retaliatory, or frivolous claims.

Regardless of one’s stance, if you find yourself “red-flagged” in Colorado, it’s vital to understand the process and fight for your rights.  Our lawyers have experience helping clients navigate through the legal landscape. Here’s what you need to know:

What Exactly is Colorado’s “Red Flag” Gun Law?

The law allows police or family/household members to petition a court for an “Extreme Risk Protection Order” (ERPO) to temporarily seize firearms from an individual deemed dangerous or mentally unstable. Judges weigh several factors including threats of violence, mental health history, substance abuse, and more.

If an ERPO is approved, authorities can immediately confiscate any firearms. A later court hearing must then determine if a permanent order stripping gun rights should be issued for up to one year. While proponents believe red flag laws prevent gun deaths, opponents argue they deny Constitutional rights and due process over hearsay.

How Colorado’s Red Flag Process Works

  • Law enforcement officers or family/household members petition the court detailing risky behaviors or threats.
  • The judge holds a hearing within 1 day, and issues temp ERPO (up to 14 days) if shown a “preponderance” of concern.
  • Second hearing determines if the order should be extended to 364 days based on “clear and convincing” evidence.

Gun rights are restored after the order expires. Those served with an ERPO must immediately surrender all firearms to authorities. 

What Happens if They Don’t Surrender Their Firearms?

Violating an ERPO regarding firearm surrender in Colorado is not taken lightly. The immediate consequences can be stark. Law enforcement has the authority to directly seize your firearms, potentially even searching your home with a warrant. On top of that, you can face contempt of court charges, resulting in fines up to $1,000 and jail time up to six months per violation. The court may even extend the duration of the ERPO itself. Remember, these are just the immediate repercussions. Violating an ERPO can also lead to long-term consequences, including losing your gun ownership rights permanently and potentially facing criminal charges depending on the circumstances.

Why Might Someone Get “Red Flagged”?

Reasons someone could face gun confiscation under a “red flag” order include:

  • Threatening self-harm or suicide
  • Displaying violent behavior suggesting danger to others
  • Mental health issues like paranoia, rage, lack of self-control
  • Reckless handling of firearms while intoxicated
  • Prior involuntary mental health commitment

What Can You Do If You Are “Red Flagged”?

If an ERPO temporarily strips your gun rights, it’s critical to respond swiftly to protect yourself. Our attorneys can help craft a strong defense against turning this into a damaging permanent order, including:

  • Assembling evidence to refute or contextualize the claims
  • Presenting character statements from upstanding community members
  • Arguing the unnecessary denial of civil liberties
  • Coordinating mental health evaluations if relevant
  • Negotiating strict safety guidelines for any firearms access

A hastily granted “red flag” order can unfairly strip Constitutional rights. With an aggressive legal response, our experienced lawyers can help ensure facts and objectivity prevail in regaining your reputation, record, and freedoms.
Contact our team today if you or a loved one find yourselves caught in the crosshairs of an Extreme Risk Protection Order. Kanthaka Group has experience navigating these sensitive cases and ensuring your rights remain protected.