What Factors Make Colorado Domestic Violence “Aggravated”?

Domestic violence charges in Colorado hold an interesting position under the laws as written.

Although the acts that constitute domestic violence come with a number of civil and criminal consequences – many of them quite far-reaching – technically, there is no actual “charge” for domestic violence. Rather, it is considered an “enhancement” to other charges.

So, what does it mean when someone is charged with “aggravated” domestic violence?

For most charges, there are a list of factors deemed to be “aggravating.” In other words, if the act includes any of those factors, it can make the charge – and the associated consequences for conviction – more severe.

A domestic violence enhancement can be attached to a number of different criminal charges. So, to understand “aggravated” domestic violence, you need to know what makes those individual charges aggravated.

Take assault, for example. Most cases of assault are prosecuted as misdemeanor-level offenses. However, there are certain aggravating factors that can result in felony-level charges, which carry much greater criminal consequences, along with the consequences of being a convicted felon.

It’s therefore very important to understand the laws surrounding domestic violence in our state, and be aware of the various aggravating factors that can make charges more severe. That’s why we’ve put together a guide discussing how Colorado defines domestic violence, how domestic violence is prosecuted, and which aggravating factors can lead to enhanced charges and sentencing.

How Domestic Violence Is Defined and Charged in Colorado

Colorado criminal code defines domestic violence as an act or threatened act of violence against a person with whom the defendant has or has had an intimate relationship. This generally refers to romantic partners, although co-parents or co-habitants can also be considered domestic violence victims.

Normally, if someone is alleged to have engaged in physical violence against another, it’s charged as an assault. However, if this type of criminal act is perpetuated against one of the above-listed parties, that adds a domestic violence enhancement to the charge, essentially turning into domestic assault.

Criminal charges pressed in conjunction with domestic violence include, but are not limited to:

  • Assault
  • Harassment
  • False imprisonment
  • Restraining order violations
  • Menacing

A domestic violence conviction has a number of criminal and civil consequences, such as required arrest, protective orders for the alleged victim, and restrictions on firearm possession. Offenders may also be ordered to complete a domestic violence treatment program. Additionally, repeated domestic violence offenses can result in being charged as a “habitual domestic violence offender,” which is a class 5 felony.

Factors That Can Lead to Aggravated Domestic Violence Charges in Colorado

One of the most serious charges that can arise from domestic violence is that of assault, so we’re going to focus on what makes an assault aggravated.

According to the law, aggravating factors that could lead to a felony-level aggravated assault charge include:

  • Intention and/or causation of serious bodily injury to the victim
  • Use of a deadly weapon
  • Attempting to permanently disable or disfigure the victim and/or accomplishing that goal
  • Administration of a drug or substance to the victim with the intention of causing impairment or incapacitating the victim

Colorado Domestic Violence Attorney

One of the most important points to take from those bullet points? Even if the victim is not seriously injured, the intention to seriously harm or incapacitate the victim can also lead to you being prosecuted for aggravated assault. This means that if any circumstances are suggestive of this intent, you could face a felony-level charge regardless of whether or not you actually seriously hurt the victim.

Most people don’t really understand this, but it becomes hugely important if you find yourself facing charges. In order to put up the best fight against your charges and receive a positive outcome, you need to know how the law works.


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.