Colorado Domestic Violence
In the state of Colorado, any violent act or threat of violence carried out by one person against another person with whom the alleged offender has or previously had an intimate relationship can result in criminal charges for domestic violence. Acts of domestic violence in Colorado can lead to mandatory arrests and a conviction for a domestic violence-related crime carries harsh, long-lasting penalties, possibly including a lengthy term of imprisonment and substantial fines, plus additional penalties related to domestic violence, such as mandatory completion of a treatment program and drug or alcohol counseling. If you are convicted on charges related to domestic violence in Colorado, you could also lose your job and your right to own or possess a firearm and face strict limitations on your child custody or visitation rights, if you have children. For more detailed information about Colorado domestic violence charges, or to obtain qualified legal advice pertaining to your specific situation, consult an experienced Colorado domestic violence defense attorney today.
Colorado Domestic Violence Laws
Most states broadly define domestic violence as the act of causing bodily harm or threatening to cause harm to an intimate partner, a family member, or someone you live with. Colorado law takes this definition a little further, describing domestic violence as committing any act of physical harm or threat of violence against a person with whom the alleged offender has or previously had an intimate relationship, or causing any damage or threat of damage to personal property, including animals, with the intent to punish, control, coerce, intimidate or seek revenge. Under Colorado law, people who have had an “intimate relationship” include current and former spouses, people who are currently in or previously had a dating relationship, and people who have a child together, regardless of the nature of their relationship.
Mandatory Arrest for Acts of Domestic Violence
Colorado is a mandatory arrest state, which means if the police show up at your door on a domestic violence call and have reason to believe that you have committed an act of domestic violence, you will be immediately arrested, even if the alleged victim does not wish to press charges. Following the arrest, a mandatory domestic violence restraining order, or protection order, will be issued against you to prevent any contact between you and the alleged victim. It is important to note that it is a crime to violate the terms of a protection order by contacting the alleged victim, entering your home, or going against any other protections put forth in the order, and doing so could result in additional criminal charges.
Penalties for Domestic Violence in Colorado
State legislators in Colorado have taken steps to expand domestic violence laws in recent years. Still, domestic violence is not considered a standalone crime in the state of Colorado, which means there is not a separate criminal offense for crimes involving violence or threats of violence against an intimate partner. Instead, domestic violence is considered an “aggravating factor” and is used as a sentencing enhancement to an underlying criminal offense. So, for individuals accused of committing domestic violence-related crimes in Colorado, the underlying criminal offense determines the nature of the charge, and a domestic violence enhancement is added to increase the associated penalties and sentencing.
For example, if you are facing criminal charges for assault in the first degree under Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) 18-3-202, a Class 3 felony, you could face up to 12 years in prison and a maximum fine of $750,000. If you are facing criminal charges for menacing under C.R.S. 18-3-206, a Class 3 misdemeanor offense, you could face up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $750. If the victim of the alleged assault or menacing was an intimate partner, you could face additional penalties related to domestic violence, such as mandatory completion of a domestic violence treatment program, drug or alcohol counseling, and restrictions on owning or possessing a firearm. Under C.R.S. 18-6-801, if you are charged with a misdemeanor domestic violence-related crime, and you have three prior domestic violence-related convictions, you will be considered a “habitual offender,” and the new offense could be automatically charged as a Class 5 felony.
Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges
In order to be convicted of assault, menacing, stalking or another domestic violence-related crime against an intimate partner in Colorado, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime in question (i.e., assault, menacing or stalking), and that you and the alleged victim had an intimate relationship. Proving the intimate relationship may be relatively straightforward, depending on the specific facts of your case. However, proving that you committed the related crime means proving each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the highest standard of proof in a court of law. For the crime of assault, for instance, that means proving that you knowingly or recklessly caused bodily injury to the other person. If your defense attorney can poke holes in the prosecution’s story and raise reasonable doubt in the minds of the judge or jury with regard to your guilt, you may be acquitted of the domestic violence-related crime. The first step in fighting domestic violence charges in Colorado is retaining the services of a knowledgeable domestic violence defense attorney, and this should be done as quickly as possible after your arrest. The more time your attorney has to review your case, the stronger your defense will be.
Contact a Skilled Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Today
Domestic violence-related crimes are punished severely in Colorado, and if you have been arrested for domestic violence, you are encouraged to speak with a domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible, even if you have not yet been charged. The statute of limitations for domestic violence-related felony offenses in Colorado is three years, which means you could face criminal charges up to three years after the alleged domestic violence takes place. Contact a seasoned Colorado criminal defense lawyer today to discuss your legal options following a domestic violence-related arrest.