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After a Shooting Occurs
This portion of our web site is to provide a general overview of some of the most important gun laws that exist in our country and in the State of Colorado.
UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES THE DISCUSSION ON GUN LAWS ARE TO BE INTURPRETED AS LEGAL ADVISE OR TO BE DEEMED LEGALLY ACCURATE.
CONTACT A LOCAL ATTORNEY IN THE STATE IN WHICH YOU RESIDE FOR A LEGAL OPINION AND INTERPRETATION OF FEDERAL, STATE, AND LOCAL GUN LAWS.
If you reside in Colorado or intend to apply for the Colorado Carry and Concealed Weapons License, Level 1 Firearms Safety and Training has a class dedicated to the legalities of gun ownership which meets the state of Colorado requirements. Please contact us if you are interested in attending this class.
The time to prepare for a self-defense case is before one occurs. This is why Level 1 Firearms Safety and Training offers a Legal Firearms Instruction Course designed to answer all your legal questions, how to find the right attorney for your needs, and how to handle yourself during the criminal investigation process. Having a qualified attorney who concentrates on the federal, state, and local laws, firearms ownership, and self-defense laws on "speed-dial" is your best defense. Alternatively, an individual can contact the state bar association or the National Rifle Association (NRA) for a list of attorneys in their area.
After the situation has been determined "contained" by the officers, a formal investigation will begin looking into the justification of using the amount of force necessary to protect yourself. If the attacker is seriously wounded or killed, there may be a need for additional investigation. If the attack was clearly an act of violence and your actions were completely justifiable, you may only need to answer a few questions from the police. If you knew the attacker, the matter becomes a bit more complicated because police will now want to investigate if you had an underlying reason to use your firearm.
Opinions vary on what you should say during the initial investigation process.
Some folk's recommend you cooperate fully with the police, answering any question they as honestly as you possibly can under the circumstances. Many attorneys advise against this informing their clients to request time to visit with an attorney before questioning. Others say you should state you are the victim and you are not comfortable giving a full statement until you talk to your attorney. Police will naturally treat this kind of statement with suspicion and will attempt to push you for additional information. If you fail to provide additional information, you will likely be viewed as uncooperative and can be arrested. No matter your position on how you should respond to police questioning, it is always best to take time after a shooting to regroup yourself. Anyone who has been involved in a defensive shooting situation should immediately seek medical attention to ensure they are not in shock, request their attorney be present during questioning, and be prepared for the possibility of arrest, a criminal and/or civil trial.
Your U.S. Constitutional Rights
You do have certain rights afforded to you under the U.S. Constitution.
The Fifth Amendment guarantees you have the right to remain quiet and to refuse to answer any questions until you have consulted with an attorney, and the Sixth Amendment
an attorney must be present during all questioning provided,
you ask for one!
Colorado law allows police to confiscate a firearm that may have been used during the commission of a felony.
Search of Your Home
There are a number of constitutional protections against the police searching your home without your permission. Essentially, if they
have to ask
if they can search a room, that means
they don't have the right to do so
. If you allow them to search the room,
you have waived your right
for anything they find in plain sight, legal or not. If you are asked if an officer can search a room, you should speak with your attorney. If the officers have any right to search the room, they can ask a judge to issue a warrant stating what the police are allowed to search for in that room.
There are reasons why an officer should not be allowed free reign to your home. You may have personal items that are simply none of their business. You may have a sign that says your home is protected by Smith and Wesson (wait until the jurors hear this). Or, you may have 2-3 additional pistols located throughout the house which could be interpreted as "excessive" by an over-zealous prosecutor.
Crime Scene Restrictions
If the shooting occurred in your home, be prepared for the "crime scene" to be closed off and made inaccessible anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.
Suspension or Revocation of Gun Ownership and Carry Permits
During the investigation process or during the time leading to a criminal trial, don't be surprised if your carry permit is revoked and that a judge orders you to stay away from all firearms until the outcome of the trial is determined.
In many cases, a criminal trial will not be pursued provided you followed all the rules for self-defense and had a clear and just cause for using deadly force. In some areas of the country, you may go to trial because the police, judge, fellow citizens, and jurors are all against guns and firearm ownership, thinking every shooting can be avoided.
Civil suits generally follow criminal trials even if you are found completely innocent of any wrong doing. Criminal trials are initiated by the government and result in incarceration, fines, property seizure, and other penalties. A criminal trial requires a unanimous vote for a guilty conviction to occur.
A civil suit can be brought by anyone for any reason, and results in the form of monetary compensation. A civil case does not require a unanimous vote, only a vote that the defendant is found responsible by the preponderance of the evidence.
Legal fees can range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars. If the investigation clears you of any wrong doing, criminal charges will not be brought against you, but you will likely owe your attorney for the time spent dealing with the police and possibly a bail hearing appearance. On the other side of the scale, you may need to have your attorney represent you for what will become several months or preparation and pretrial hearings. Then, there's the cost of the actual trial.
Even if you avoid or are deemed completely innocent during the criminal process, you may face a civil suit which could cost you tens of thousands of dollars to defend.