Girls crying while parents are fighting

How Will Colorado’s Red Flag Law Impact Domestic Violence Cases? 

Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC  June 6, 2024

Domestic violence is a severe issue that plagues communities across the United States, requiring robust legal frameworks to protect victims and ensure justice.

One of the recent legislative strides in this direction is Colorado’s Red Flag Law, formally known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) law. This law is designed to prevent potential violence by temporarily removing firearms from individuals deemed a threat to themselves or others.

But how will this new legislation affect domestic violence cases in Colorado? Our goal with this article is to provide an in-depth look at the implications of the Red Flag Law for both survivors and those accused of domestic violence. 

Understanding Colorado's Red Flag Law

Colorado recently enacted its Red Flag Law to address the rising concerns around gun violence, particularly in the context of domestic disputes. The law allows family members, household members, or law enforcement officers to petition a court to temporarily remove firearms from individuals who pose a significant risk.

This preemptive measure aims to prevent potential harm before it escalates to violence, thereby providing a layer of safety for those in vulnerable situations. 

How Does the Red Flag Law Work?

To understand the mechanisms of Colorado’s Red Flag Law, it’s essential to examine the process involved in petitioning for and enforcing an Extreme Risk Protection Order. 

Petitioning for an Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) 

Under Colorado’s Red Flag Law, an Extreme Risk Protection Order can be filed by specific individuals who have a close relationship with the person in question. These include: 

  • Family members related by blood, marriage, domestic partnership, or adoption. 

  • Individuals who have a child in common with the respondent. 

  • Current or former legal guardians. 

  • Individuals who have resided with the respondent within the past six months. 

  • Law enforcement officers. 

The Legal Process Involved 

Once a petition is filed, a judge conducts a same-day hearing to determine if a temporary ERPO should be granted. This initial hearing involves only the petitioner; the respondent is not notified or present. If granted, the temporary ERPO can lead to the immediate removal of firearms from the respondent, accompanied by a search warrant. 

A full hearing is then scheduled within 14 days, where both parties can present evidence. If the court finds clear and convincing evidence that the respondent poses a significant risk, a longer-term ERPO can be issued, lasting up to 364 days. 

Potential Impact on Domestic Violence Cases

The implementation of Colorado's Red Flag Law holds significant implications for domestic violence cases, affecting both survivors and those accused. 

Perspective of Survivors 

For survivors of domestic violence, the Red Flag Law provides an additional legal tool to enhance their safety. By allowing for the temporary removal of firearms from abusers, the law aims to reduce the likelihood of violent escalations. This can be particularly beneficial in high-risk situations where the presence of a firearm significantly increases the danger to the survivor. 

Moreover, the involvement of law enforcement in filing petitions can offer an extra layer of protection for survivors who may feel unsafe or unable to file petitions themselves. This collaborative approach ensures that immediate action can be taken to safeguard those at risk. 

Perspective of the Accused

While the primary aim of the Red Flag Law is to protect potential victims, it also raises concerns for those accused of domestic violence. The swift nature of temporary ERPOs means that individuals can lose their firearms without prior notice or the opportunity to defend themselves initially. This can be particularly distressing for those who rely on firearms for their profession or personal safety. 

Furthermore, the stigma associated with being subjected to an ERPO can have long-lasting consequences, affecting personal relationships, employment opportunities, and overall reputation. It is crucial for the accused to seek legal representation from an experienced lawyer to navigate the ins and outs of this law and ensure their rights are protected. 

Practicality and Effectiveness of the Law

The practicality and effectiveness of Colorado’s Red Flag Law in addressing domestic violence hinge on several factors.  

First, the law’s ability to prevent potential violence before it occurs is a significant advantage. By temporarily removing firearms from high-risk individuals, the law aims to mitigate immediate threats and provide a window for further legal intervention. 

However, the law’s effectiveness also depends on its proper implementation and public awareness. Survivors need to be informed about the availability of ERPOs and how to file petitions. Law enforcement officers must be adequately trained to identify high-risk situations and take appropriate action. 

Balancing Rights and Safety 

One of the critical challenges of the Red Flag Law is balancing the rights of the accused with the safety of potential victims. Ensuring due process while addressing immediate risks is a delicate task. Courts must carefully evaluate evidence to avoid wrongful deprivation of rights while taking necessary measures to protect those at risk. 

Insights for a Well-Rounded View 

To provide a well-rounded view of the Red Flag Law’s impact on domestic violence cases, it is essential to consider both its strengths and limitations. While the law offers a proactive approach to preventing violence, its success depends on proper implementation, public awareness, and ongoing evaluation. Collaboration between legal professionals, law enforcement, and advocacy groups is crucial to ensure the law serves its intended purpose effectively. 

We Are Here for You

Colorado’s Red Flag Law represents a significant step toward addressing domestic violence and preventing potential tragedies. For survivors, it offers an additional layer of protection by enabling the temporary removal of firearms from abusers. For those accused, it underscores the importance of seeking legal representation to navigate the complexities of this legislation. 

At the Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC, we are committed to helping those affected by domestic violence understand their legal options and seek the support they need. Whether you are a survivor seeking protection or someone accused of dangerous behavior, our experienced legal team is here to guide you through this challenging time. 

If you or someone you know is affected by domestic violence, don’t hesitate to reach out to our office. Together, we can work toward a safer and brighter future. Contact the Law Office of Lori Crystal, LLC, serving clients throughout Castle Rock, Parker, Lone Tree, Highlands Ranch, and beyond.