Turkey Day Family Fight? Could Be CO Domestic Violence

The holidays are a joyous time for many people but can also lead to heightened stress and other challenges, straining personal relationships. This is precisely why domestic violence in Colorado seems to get a bump during the holidays as families get together.

Domestic Violence in Colorado is a complex topic. Many average Coloradans don’t know what domestic violence is or how it is perpetrated. Can a simple squabble on Turkey Day land you in jail? Read on to find out what you need to know.

How Does Colorado Define Domestic Violence?

You may think of domestic violence as spouses hitting one another, as you see in movies and on television. Still, the truth is that the law views domestic violence as something very different.

When you threaten an act of violence or perpetrate an act of violence against someone you currently are in or have been in an intimate relationship with, then the state considers it to be domestic violence.

In Colorado, domestic violence is not a crime on its own. It’s seen as a sentencing enhancement for an underlying crime. If you perpetrate a crime such as assault in Colorado, who you perpetrate it against will determine whether you have an aggravator of domestic violence attached to it.

What Is an “Intimate Relationship” under Colorado Law?

The biggest factor in whether or not a crime is domestic violence is who it is perpetrated against. If they meet the threshold of someone you’ve been in or are currently in an intimate relationship with, the crime can enhance domestic violence.

Colorado defines an intimate relationship as one rooted in a romantic attachment or in whether you share a child. That means that intimate relationships are considered to be:

  • Anyone, you’re married to or have been
  • Anyone you’ve been in a romantic relationship with or currently are
  • Anyone you share a child with, even adopted children

Co-workers, friends, and roommates generally do not fall into the category of an intimate relationship. It’s also not necessary for the two involved to live together, either. Sexual relationships also don’t automatically mean that the two people are considered to be in an intimate relationship.

Common Domestic Violence Crimes in Colorado

While any crime can technically have a domestic violence enhancement, some crimes more commonly do. They include:

  • Assault
  • Menacing
  • Child abuse
  • False imprisonment
  • Stalking
  • Child abuse
  • Sexual contact
  • Sexual assault
  • Harassment
  • Elder abuse
  • Violation of a protective order

It’s also important to remember that domestic violence crimes can include property crimes and crimes against pets. It’s up to the judge in the case to decide when a domestic violence enhancement is warranted.

Will You Be Arrested for a Family Holiday Squabble in Colorado?

Common Domestic Violence Crimes in Colorado

Perhaps one of the most important things to understand about domestic violence in Colorado over the holidays is that the state practices mandatory arrest for domestic violence situations. If the police are called to a scene and have probable cause to believe domestic violence is taking place, they are required to arrest the party they believe to be the threat in the interest of safety.

When you’re arrested over a holiday or a holiday weekend, that also means that you may have to wait longer before your arraignment to be released from detention.


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.