September 19, 2023
No one has to tell parents that emotions for teenagers tend to run high. During these years, it’s not uncommon for teens’ emotions to swing wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other or for these feelings to be accompanied by verbal or physical altercations.
Unfortunately, when these big emotions rear their ugly heads in romantic relationships, problems can ensue. Couple this with teens still learning to navigate the complexities of sex, romance, and intimacy, which can be a recipe for disaster.
What are we talking about? Teen dating violence.
Though it is rarely spoken about in our culture, violence between teens engaged in a romantic relationship is a severe issue in Colorado and across the United States. Sadly, many teens may not realize their behavior constitutes abuse or violence. This is incredibly important because it is quite possible for your teen to find themselves in legal trouble for behavior they didn’t even realize was against the law.
In this blog post, we will explore what constitutes teen dating violence in our state, and the charges and penalties teens can face for engaging in such behavior.
What Constitutes Teen Dating Violence in Colorado?
Teen dating violence is defined as behavior one dating partner uses to control, intimidate, or hurt the other partner. This type of abuse can take many forms, including:
The abuse can be a one-time incident or repeatedly occur over a period of time.
The impact of teen dating violence can be severe and long-lasting. Teens who experience abuse in their relationships are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem and engage in risky behaviors such as substance abuse and unprotected sex. They may also have trouble forming healthy relationships in the future.
In Colorado, teen dating violence is considered a form of domestic violence. Our state defines domestic violence as any act of violence or threatened violence against a person with whom the offender has had an intimate relationship. This includes dating relationships, as well as marriages and cohabiting relationships.
Under Colorado law, anyone over 18 who engages in domestic violence can be charged with a crime. However, even if the offender is a juvenile (under 18), they can still potentially face charges and penalties.
Teen Dating Violence in Colorado: Understanding the Charges
The charges a juvenile can face for engaging in teen dating violence depend on the case’s specific circumstances.
Some common charges include:
- Assault. If the abuse involves physical violence, the offender may be charged with assault. Our state recognizes several different degrees of assault, ranging from a Class 3 misdemeanor to a Class 2 felony, depending on the severity of the injury and whether or not a weapon was used.
- Stalking. If the offender repeatedly follows, threatens, or harasses their dating partner, they may be charged with stalking. This can be a Class 5 or Class 4 felony, depending on the circumstances.
- Harassment. If the offender repeatedly communicates with their dating partner in a way that is intended to annoy, intimidate, or harass them, they may be charged with harassment. Depending on the circumstances, this can be a Class 3 or Class 1 misdemeanor.
- Kidnapping. If the offender takes their dating partner against their will, they may be charged with kidnapping. This is a Class 2 or Class 1 felony, depending on the circumstances.
Penalties for Engaging in Teen Dating Violence in Colorado
The juvenile’s penalties for engaging in teen dating violence will depend on the specific charges and the case circumstances. However, some common penalties include the following:
- Fines. The offender may be required to pay a fine, ranging from a few hundred dollars for a Class 3 misdemeanor to tens of thousands of dollars for a Class 2 felony.
- Community service. The offender may be required to complete a certain number of hours of community service as part of their sentence.
- Probation. The offender may be placed on probation, which requires them to adhere to certain conditions, such as staying away from their victim and completing community service.
- Detention. If the offender is found to threaten public safety, they may be placed in a juvenile detention center.
- Restitution. The offender may be required to pay restitution to their victim for any damages or expenses incurred due to the abuse.
If your teen is facing charges for problems in their romantic relationship, do not hesitate to seek out the help they need – emotionally, to prevent these issues as adults, and legally, to protect their rights and future prospects.
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 recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020, and is Lead Counsel rated.