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Guns and Bail

Gun and gravel

When a person is arrested for a crime they are brought to the local jail and processed. After processing they are often given the opportunity to post bail without ever seeing a judge or magistrate. All jails in Jefferson County, Arapahoe County and Denver County have bail schedules that state the bail amount due for different offences (bail for a DUI for example is typically $5,000). The accused is given the option of paying the full amount on the spot (many jails now accept credit cards) or working with a loved one and bail bonding agent to secure their release. In some cases, however, things are not so cut and dry. Particularly if guns were involved in the commission of the alleged crime.

How Guns Complicate Bail Bonds

If a person is arrested for, let’s say, a DUI, they will normally be offered the opportunity to post bail shortly after being processed (that is, as long as they are not falling down drunk and were not abusive to the arresting officer). But even if they were barely over the legal limit and cooperated fully with the arresting officer things can get complicated if they were found to be in possession of a gun at the time of arrest. This is particularly true if the gun violated any of Colorado’s often confusing and conflicting gun laws.

For instance it is legal to carry a rifle or even a handgun in your car in Colorado. But, depending on the type of gun it may be illegal for it to be loaded. In another example, a person who has been convicted of stalking must turn in their firearms. So, if that person is arrested for DUI and found to have a gun in their car they will likely be held over for a bail hearing.

Setting Conditions for Release

If a person was arrested and charged with committing a crime and a gun was involved either directly or indirectly it is very likely they will remain in custody pending a hearing before a judge or magistrate. At the hearing the judge or magistrate will hear the particulars of the offense and the role (if any) the firearm played.

If the firearm was not involved directly in the commission of the crime (say it was found in the glove compartment after the person was arrested for DUI) chances are good that person will be allowed to post bail. Even if the gun violated some technical aspect of Colorado gun law.

If, however, the firearm was involved in the commission of a crime or, the presence or state of the firearm violated the terms of the person’s sentence from a prior conviction,

  • bail may be refused
  • or it may be dramatically increased
  • and/or conditions may be placed on the person’s ability to possess firearms while out on bail.

Surrendering Firearms

Although Colorado is one of the most gun-friendly states in the union there are cases when a person will be required to surrender their gun or guns as a condition of bail. The exact conditions guiding the turnover will vary from case to case. Some defendants may be required to turn their firearms over to the local police or sheriff. Others may simply be required to turn them over to a responsible 3rd party such as a parent or sibling.

In some cases it may be beneficial for the defendant to adopt a proactive approach and voluntarily turn any weapons over to a responsible 3rd party before the bail hearing. This can sometimes result in less restrictive release conditions and in some cases, lower bail. Though remember it is up to the discretion of the judge.

The Federal/State Conundrum

In some instances a judge may demand that a person charged with a violation that involved a firearm turn over any and all of their weapons as a condition of release. But this type of restriction may well amount to a violation of the person’s Constitutional rights under the 2nd amendment. Why? Because the person is innocent until proven guilty and you cannot restrict the rights of innocent people. Not without some seriously just cause.

Essentially, the federal government has agreed to look the other way when it comes to local judges imposing firearms restrictions on people accused of a crime based upon:

  • The seriousness of the crime the person is accused of.
  • Whether the person threatened to use deadly force during the commission of the crime.
  • And whether the crime involved domestic violence.

Should the state’s argument for restricting the defendant’s right to possess firearms while their case is being processed fall within these parameters the federal government is unlikely to support any claim the defendant might make that their constitutional rights are being violated.


As you can see possession of a firearm can turn what might otherwise be a straightforward case of being able to contact a bondsman from jail shortly after being arrested into something far more complicated. A simple DUI stop that might have normally ended with you walking free shortly after being processed may instead wind up involving a judge, a bail amount that is much higher and restrictions on your ability to possess firearms while out on bail. In some cases where a gun was present during the commission of a crime (even if it was not discharged) bail may even be refused. If you have been charged with a firearms violation and need to post bail contact Tayler Made Bail Bonds.

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(303) 623-0399
3595 South Teller Street
Suite 300A
Lakewood, CO 80235