New Colorado law imposes tougher penalties for gun theft

Colorado recently doubled the prison sentence that those convicted of firearms theft could face.

A spate of gun thefts across the state has led lawmakers to try to crack down on the problem. As KOAA News reports, a bill was recently signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper that substantially increases the penalties for gun theft in Colorado. The new law means that those convicted of gun theft face up to 12 years in prison along with hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. While the legislation has not been without controversy, it garnered bipartisan support in the Colorado General Assembly.

Tougher penalties for gun theft

House Bill 1077, which is now law, reclassifies firearms theft committed during a second-degree burglary as a Class 3 felony. As a Class 3 felony, judges will be able to sentence convicted offenders of a fine of up to $750,000 and a prison sentence of four to 12 years. The bill was sponsored by both Republicans and Democrats in the General Assembly, although it did not quite gain unanimous support.

Prior to this law taking effect, firearms theft was classified as a Class 4 felony punishable by a prison sentence of two to six years. In other words, the new law doubles the amount of time that offenders could face behind bars.

Spate of robberies leads to new law

An increase in smash and grab robberies at gun stores across the state in the past two years was the primary driving force behind this new legislation, according to the Denver Post. Many legislators and safety advocates were concerned that stolen guns were being used in homicides and other violent crimes. According to analysts, about 20 cases each year will likely be affected by the enhanced punishments under the new law.

However, while the bill did receive bipartisan support, it wasn't entirely without controversy. For one, the new law will almost certainly lead to more people being incarcerated and thus to higher prison costs that Colorado taxpayers will have to bear. Furthermore, critics contend that the bill does nothing to actually prevent gun violence from happening in the first place and questioned whether increased penalties for theft would actually lead to a decrease in violent crime.

Talking to a criminal defense attorney

With penalties for firearms theft increasing so dramatically, it is important for anybody who has been accused of this or any other offense to talk to a criminal defense attorney immediately. Without an attorney on one's side, it is much more difficult to ensure one's rights are being protected or to advocate for a reduced sentence. An attorney can fight for the rights of the accused when facing these and other very serious charges.