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Recently, the US Department of Justice awarded nearly 2.4 million dollars to the state to support four projects aimed at addressing domestic violence and helping survivors.
That said, it remains unclear whether it will have any effect on the way law enforcement will handle offenders. We think it just may.
Here’s why: Nearly $1M of the money is earmarked for two civilian domestic violence investigators to the Colorado Springs police department.
This is a lot of money. If money is being awarded to support investigators for domestic violence, it’s not unreasonable to assume more arrests will be made related to reported incidents of domestic violence.
According to Colorado law, domestic violence is specifically defined as a threat or act of violence against someone the perpetrator is intimately connected with. This can include current and former spouses or partners, co-habitants, or co-parents.
Furthermore, the violence or threat will involve punishment, control over, or the seeking of revenge against the victim in the household when deemed a domestic dispute.
If the violence does not meet these qualifications, then it’s simply standard assault. This is a serious charge on its own. If the violent act is considered to be domestic violence, however, then there are significant additional penalties.
Domestic violence charges carry heavy penalties because the violation of an intimate partner is a particularly heinous act. Domestic violence penalties are typically added on top of the standard penalties for another crime.
For example, if a person assaults their partner, they will face the standard penalties for assault. Then, the domestic violence aspect aggravates these assault charges, which is grounds for adding additional penalties.
Even third-degree assault carries up to six months in prison and fines. Adding domestic violence to the equation adds several potential penalties on top of these, including the following five.
Most people convicted of domestic violence charges will be ordered to attend a domestic violence treatment program. This may be the lightest sentence available after conviction.
Since domestic violence is often committed against people living in the same house as the offender, these charges prevent the offender from being sentenced to house arrest.
People convicted of domestic violence are less likely to be released on probation. Judges must take the victims’ safety into account, and releasing a known domestic abuser on probation is not considered in the best interest of the victims.
Anyone convicted of domestic violence loses their right to own firearms in Colorado. They may not buy new guns, and they must relinquish their current guns to law enforcement, sell them, or give them away.
Finally, if someone has been convicted for domestic violence at least three times prior, their prior record on its own can be used against them. Even if their fourth arrest is normally a misdemeanor charge, the charges are automatically elevated to a Class 5 Felony because they are considered a “habitual” domestic violence offender.
Domestic violence is a serious charge, and it may be about to become more common in Colorado. If you have been accused of domestic violence, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified Colorado domestic violence attorney. They will help you navigate the legal system and help you understand your options.
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.