If you are a victim and your abuser has a gun or you feel unsafe for other reasons, it is important to work with a victim advocate. The following organizations can help you find an advocate free of charge:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE (7233);
- VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846;
- Any of the local domestic violence programs listed here.
It is also helpful to have a lawyer assist you, particularly when you are seeking a domestic violence protection order. You can find a lawyer using the Colorado Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact Legal Services Colorado.
How to Get Protection
What kind of domestic violence protection orders are available?
Colorado courts can issue three types of domestic violence protection orders. In two of these orders, the court can help protect you from gun violence or threats of gun violence by an intimate partner:
- Emergency protection orders1*
- Temporary civil protection orders2*
- Permanent civil protection orders3*
A court issuing a temporary or permanent civil protection order can order whatever relief* they believe is necessary to protect you,4 including requiring the respondent* to get rid of his/her/their guns and prohibiting them from getting new ones. Colorado law also automatically prohibits respondents to temporary civil protection orders from purchasing or possessing* firearms,5 but the petitioner* might need to ask the court to specify this relief*. Additionally, some respondents subject to permanent civil protection orders are prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms and are required to get rid of their firearms.6
How can you get a protection order?
Click here to see if you are eligible for a protection order in Colorado.
You can find your local court here.
Court forms and Colorado’s official guide to getting a protective order can be found here.
What do I do if I do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but I still need protection from someone? If you do not qualify for protection as a victim of domestic violence but need protection from someone (including a stranger, an acquaintance, or another person not covered under a domestic violence protection order), you might qualify for some other type of order. Contact VictimConnect at (855) 484-2846 or a lawyer for more information. You can find a lawyer using the Colorado Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact Legal Services Colorado.
How can the court help protect you?
All respondents* to temporary civil protection orders are prohibited from purchasing or possessing* firearms,7 but the petitioner* might need to ask the court to specify this relief*. Respondents to permanent civil protection orders who are currently or formerly married to, live or lived with, or share a child in common with the petitioner are automatically prohibited from possessing or purchasing firearms and are required to get rid of their firearms. In this case, the judge will:
- Order the respondent to get rid of their firearms within 24 hours if they are present in court or 48 hours if they are not present, by:
- Selling them to or storing them with a federally licensed firearms dealer;
- Giving them to law enforcement to store; or
- Selling them to or storing them with another person after that person passes a background check;
- Require the respondent to file a receipt within three business days, proving they have transferred their firearms to someone else;
- If the respondent transferred the firearms to a someone other than a federally licensed dealer or law enforcement, he/she/they will also need to file the results of a background check on that person.8
In addition, Colorado courts issuing temporary or permanent civil protection orders can order whatever relief* they believe is necessary to protect you – this means that if your case is not fully covered under the law cited above, a court can still protect you from gun violence.9 Some of the things a court can order include:
- Requiring the respondent to turn over their firearms to local law enforcement immediately;
- Prohibiting the respondent from purchasing or possessing firearms while the order is in effect if not already explicitly prohibited by law;
- Ordering law enforcement to retrieve the respondent’s firearms if the respondent does not turn them in within 48 hours;
- Requiring the respondent to appear before the court to self-report turning over their firearms;
- Directing law enforcement to follow up with the respondent to make sure the respondent turned over their guns;
- Scheduling a follow up compliance hearing* to ensure that the respondent has not accessed additional firearms since the order was issued;
- Ordering law enforcement to go to your home at scheduled times to check in on your safety;
- Ordering the respondent to stay away from you, your children, your family, and anyone else in immediate danger, based on the threats and/or actions of the respondent;
- Ordering the respondent not to hurt you or threaten to hurt you in the future;
- Anything else you need to be safe.
How will the court know what you need to protect you from the respondent’s firearms violence?
In your petition* and during any of the hearings* you participate in when you are seeking protection, you will have the opportunity to tell the court about the respondent’s* threats or acts of abuse, especially ones involving firearms. Every situation is different, and it is important to talk to a lawyer about your specific situation. You can find a lawyer using the Colorado Bar’s website. If you cannot afford a lawyer, contact Legal Services Colorado.
Your story will help the court decide what relief* to give you. Whether you are filling out court forms or speaking directly to the court, it is important for you to tell the court about the violence you experienced (working with your lawyer, if you have one), especially if the respondent used or threatened to use a firearm against you, a member of your family, any member of the community, or your pet. Among other things, this may include telling the court:
- About incidents of physical violence or threats of physical violence and include dates wherever you can;
- How the respondent used firearms to hurt or threaten you, your family, your pet(s), or anyone in the community;
- If you fear that the respondent may use firearms violence or threats of firearms violence in the future;
- If the respondent has threatened to harm him/her/themself. This may be a sign that the respondent intends to use a dangerous weapon like a firearm against you, themself, or other people;
- If you can, the type(s), number, and location of firearms the respondent has access to.