A Guide to Colorado’s Domestic Violence Laws
Posted By: Jacob Martinez
Category: Domestic Violence
You thought that it was just a little lover’s quarrel. So when the police showed up and arrested you on charges of domestic violence, it was a complete shock. They didn’t even care that your supposed victim said it was a mistake and they had no interest in pressing charges.
How can something like this happen?
Many Coloradans don’t really understand how our state defines and handles criminal acts of domestic violence. Because of this, it is fairly common for someone to be charged without really knowing what they did.
Unfortunately, these kinds of charges come with life-altering penalties. So if you or someone you love is currently facing a charge of domestic violence, you need to learn quickly so that you can fight back and protect your future.
To help you understand how domestic violence works in our state and what you are up against, we’ve created this guide.
Colorado Domestic Violence Defined
In Colorado, domestic violence is described as physical violence or threatening violence against:
- “A relative or former relative (either by blood or marriage);
- A spouse or ex-spouse;
- The father or mother of your child;
- A current or former intimate partner (not married to you); or
- A current or former housemate.”
It is also considered domestic violence if the aggressor damages the personal property of the victim as a form of intimidation, coercion, punishment, control, or revenge. For example, it may be considered domestic violence if an individual becomes angry and damages the vehicle of an ex-spouse.
How Domestic Violence Arrests Work
Colorado has mandatory arrest laws in place if the officers involved in the situation have probable cause to believe a crime of domestic violence has been committed. The aggressor must be arrested “without undue delay,” which essentially means at the time and place of the incident.
This person will be booked into jail and will not be given a bond until a hearing is scheduled and the alleged victim is provided the right to be heard. Before being released, the judge will issue an order of protection that restricts contact with the alleged victim.
While under an order of protection, Colorado prohibits the use of alcohol or drugs, as well as the possession of any firearms. Failure to abide by these laws may result in your immediate arrest. Protective orders are put in place to help prevent a defendant from causing physical harm, threatening, or having any contact with the protected person. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, additional orders may be issued to award temporary control and care of any common minor children.
It’s important to note that in Colorado, a victim cannot simply drop the charges against the aggressor even if the person who reported the crime no longer wants to go forward with the case. By law, the state presses charges for domestic violence – not the victim. If the victim does not want to cooperate with the prosecution, they have the option to not appear in court for the trial, unless they have been served a subpoena. In this situation, the case may ultimately be dismissed.
If charged with a domestic violence crime, the court will consider a variety of factors to determine an appropriate sentence. Some of these factors include the length of the relationships, the number of children involved and their age, the vulnerability of the alleged victim, the offender’s access to weapons, and any substance abuse issues. Domestic violence penalties can include probation, community corrections, or prison.
In some instances, a misdemeanor charge can become a felony charge if the person has been previously convicted of three acts of domestic violence. When three or more convictions are found, the person is considered by the court to be a habitual domestic violence offender.
The sentence for a felony domestic violence crime can range from 1 to 3 years. Even if you were initially charged with a misdemeanor, the district attorney may have the charges amended based on your violent criminal history.
As part of your sentence, you may be ordered to complete a treatment evaluation and treatment program according to standards adopted by the domestic violence offender management board. A treatment evaluation may be conducted prior to sentencing if the evaluation is thought to be possibly helpful in determining an appropriate sentence. If you are ordered to undergo a treatment evaluation, you will be responsible for the cost of the evaluation.
Other problems and penalties may follow a domestic violence conviction. It may be difficult to maintain employment, especially if you currently hold a public service job, such as working as a teacher, nurse, police officer, or social services employee. Your conviction will also become a matter of public record.
Don’t let your life get derailed. An experienced domestic violence attorney can help you craft the strongest defense strategy possible.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.