Domestic Violence Enhancement: What Does It Mean in Colorado?

If you are charged with a crime and told that you have a domestic violence enhancement, you would probably want to know what that means, right?

It’s a strange term “domestic violence enhancement.” Does it mean that you are being accused of a particularly bad domestic violence crime? How exactly is your charge “enhanced”?

To understand, you have to look at the specific laws of our state and what they say about domestic violence and the associated penalties.

Colorado Statutes on Domestic Violence

You may have heard that our state has some of the strictest domestic violence laws in the country. That’s true. Sort of.

Because it’s also true that Colorado laws do not actually contain a specific statute on domestic violence. Instead, there is a provision that acts as an enhancement to other statutes, such as the one for assault.

For an assault charge to be considered an act of domestic violence, it must be committed against someone who is in an intimate relationship with the offender. This intimate relationship is defined as a relationship between spouses or former spouses, couples or former couples who are unmarried, or parents of a child no matter if they cohabitated or were married.

A few examples of domestic violence:

  • Pushing your girlfriend during an argument, which causes her to fall and break her arm
  • Physically abusing your spouse after you learn about an affair
  • Vandalizing your ex-spouse’s vehicle to seek revenge for a bitter divorce

If an act of violence is used to intimidate, punish, coerce, control or seek revenge against a person in an intimate relationship with an offender, the offender can be charged with the actual statute that was violated and receive a domestic violence enhancement that includes additional penalties and sentencing.

What Consequences Can Come with a Domestic Violence Enhancement?

Admission to a Treatment Program

The judge may order the offender to go through a treatment program for domestic violence offenders. The program must be completed in full or the offender may be incarcerated.

Placement on House Arrest

An offender may be confined to home detention with an electronic monitoring device as long as the offender does not inhabit the same home as the victim.

Probation Restrictions

Probation may not be available for the offender until or unless the victim’s safety can be reasonably secured.

Firearm Restrictions

An offender cannot possess or purchase any firearms within one year of a conviction for a domestic violence crime.

Habitual Offender Enhancement

If the offender has committed three or more crimes of domestic violence against the same person, the court will designate him or her as a habitual offender and apply a Class 5 felony charge with a minimum sentence of two years in prison.

Protective Order

Colorado Domestic Violence Lawyer

A victim can file a protective order against an offender. The protective order prohibits the offender from contacting the victim or their children, including coming within a certain distance of them. An offender is not permitted to possess or purchase firearms while a protective order is in place.

A judge can issue a temporary protective order after considering the evidence in an assault case. If the offender is determined to present an imminent danger to the alleged victim, a protective order will be issued.

If an offender violates the terms of a protective order, a Class 2 misdemeanor charge will apply for a first offense. This involves a fine of $250 and up to one year in jail. For repeat protective order violations, a Class 1 misdemeanor charge will apply, which involves a fine of $500 and up to 18 months in jail.

Fight Back with a Free Case Review

It’s important to contact an experienced Colorado criminal attorney as soon as you are charged with a domestic violence crime. We can tell you which defenses may apply to your case based on the specifics of the situation. Call today for a free, no obligation review of your case.


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.