Domestic violence is a serious offense, and District Attorneys in Colorado try to prosecute the accused to the fullest extent possible. Domestic violence may involve a number of different legal issues – criminal and civil – and having an experienced and knowledgeable attorney on your side will help build a solid case and guide you through your best options.
In Colorado, domestic violence is defined as a threat or act of violence against someone the aggressor has had an intimate relationship with. It also includes an act of aggression against property for the purpose of control, coercion, punishment, or revenge against someone the aggressor had an intimate relationship with.
An “intimate relationship” is defined as follows:
If a police officer has probable cause to believe domestic violence occurred, they are required to arrest the alleged offender because Colorado is a mandatory arrest state. The officer will still make the arrest even if the victim does not want them to.
Domestic violence is an enhancement added on to other crimes to increase the aggressor’s punishment. Typically, there are a handful of charges commonly associated with domestic violence including:
A domestic violence charge triggers a mandatory protection order. This means the accused cannot have any contact with, or threaten or harm the victim (or protected person). Violating a criminal protection order in a criminal case carries a sentence of up to 18 months in jail and/or up to a $5,000 fine.
The underlying charge (assault, stalking) determines the punishment. However, because the law is set up to include domestic violence as an enhancement to each independent charge, sentencing is typically more severe.
Domestic violence offenders are subject to evaluation and may be ordered to complete a treatment program. A conviction can also affect parental rights and job opportunities. In addition, domestic violence convictions lead to restrictions regarding gun ownership, citizenship, and government employment.
If convicted of multiple domestic violence charges, the penalties will increase in severity. A fourth or subsequent conviction involving domestic violence makes an individual eligible to be labeled as a habitual domestic violence offender. Under Colorado law, that is considered a class 5 felony, which carries a 1 to 3-year sentence in the Department of Corrections, with a mandatory two-year parole period, and a potential fine of up to $100,000.
There are a wide variety of programs throughout Colorado intended to help victims of domestic abuse. The Domestic Violence Program (DVP) works with communities throughout the state by providing services to survivors and victims. These programs are meant to prevent and intervene in reports of domestic violence.
Some of the services include:
These programs help aid victims of domestic abuse. There are also national resources available. A National Domestic Violence Hotline is set up with options to call, chat, or text. Everything is free and confidential, operating 24 hours a day.
Unfortunately, domestic violence frequently occurs at the commencement of, during, and after domestic relations cases such as divorces or custody disputes. With respect to the allocation of parental responsibilities between a domestic violence victim and his or her abuser, courts are required to engage in additional fact finding and consideration of domestic violence inquiry if there is reason to believe either parent committed domestic violence against the other. For example, prior to deciding whether parents should share decision-making authority or on what schedule parenting time should be allocated, a court faced with facts indicating domestic violence is typically disallowed from ordering the parties to share joint decision-making authority over the objection of either party.
In a case where domestic violence has occurred between parties to domestic relations cases, additional protective measures may need to be taken, such as obtaining a protection order for the victim and/or the children, restrictions to parenting time and parental responsibilities, and pursuing personal injury (or tort) claims against the perpetrator of such violence.
If you’re dealing with a domestic abuse situation, your welfare is important to us. That’s why we’ll work hard to take the required steps to help keep you safe. At BAM Family Law, our lawyers can evaluate your case and advise you of your options. We understand that you’re dealing with mental and emotional stress, and we’re here to help lift some of that burden. If you’re ready to take the next step, contact us to schedule a consult and get more information.