Have you been accused of domestic violence in Colorado? Whatever your domestic violence offense may be, these charges can remain on your record for the rest of your life and can have a devastating effect on future career opportunities, damage your reputation and sabotage your personal relationships. This is why any domestic violence charge should be taken very seriously and requires the skills of an experienced Denver defense attorney.
In Colorado, crimes designated as domestic violence are not just limited to crimes in which you are accused of acting in a violent manner towards someone with whom you share an intimate relationship. It can also include any crime which you have been accused of committing while coercing, punishing, controlling, or intimidating someone. For example, if your partner or a former partner has accused you of damaging their belongings or threatening them over the phone, you could end up being charged with domestic violence.
I am a Denver domestic violence defense attorney and I have successfully defended many domestic violence cases in Colorado. I know the Colorado domestic violence laws inside and out and can help you to understand why you’ve been charged, what you can do about it, and why it’s so important to have an expert Denver criminal lawyer on your side.
Many people don’t realize how serious of a crime domestic violence is in Colorado and why it requires a skilled Denver domestic violence defense attorney. People often assume that assault only extends to physical assault, or believe that an upset partner can drop the charges after calming down.
Learning the hard way can be a stressful and costly experience if you don’t have a good domestic violence defense attorney. If you are convicted of a domestic violence offense in Colorado, then you may face several possible penalties including mandatory domestic violence classes or treatment, supervised probation, jail time, fines, court costs, and/or supervision fees, restraining orders, and/or a lifetime firearm possession ban.
Furthermore, if you have been convicted of domestic violence in Colorado on three previous occasions, then on a fourth charge the prosecution can prosecute you as a habitual domestic violence offender. Unsurprisingly, this has very severe consequences. If an act of domestic violence would normally be treated as a misdemeanor, in the case of a habitual offender it can be escalated to a class five felony offense.
Domestic violence is broadly defined under Colorado state law and is not actually a separate criminal charge. It can be a factor in the classification and sentences for certain crimes, but domestic violence is not its own criminal charge.
Colorado Revised Statute § 18-6-800.3(1) defines domestic violence as violence or threat of violence against a person with whom the actor has had an intimate relationship. The phrase also includes any other crime against a person or against property when the conduct was directed against a person with whom the alleged offender is or was involved in an intimate relationship.
The phrase intimate relationship is defined under Colorado Revised Statute § 18-6-800.3(2) as spouses, former spouses, unmarried couples or ex-couples, and co-parents of the same child. In People v. Disher, 224 P.3d 254, 256 (Colo.2010), the Supreme Court of Colorado established that a court can take the three following factors into account when determining whether a relationship constitutes an intimate relationship: length of time the relationship existed; nature of the relationship; frequency of interaction.
Some of the types of underlying offenses involved in many alleged crimes of domestic violence include:
An alleged offender commits harassment by striking, shoving, kicking, or making other physical contact with an alleged victim. This crime also involves directing obscene language or obscene gestures toward the alleged victim in a public place, making repeated phone calls, and making repeated communications at inappropriate hours. Harassment is a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $750.
More commonly referred to as “domestic assault,” a third-degree assault crime involves knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to an alleged victim or with criminal negligence causing bodily injury to the alleged victim by means of a deadly weapon. Assault in the third degree is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
An alleged offender commits second-degree assault when they recklessly cause serious bodily injury to an alleged victim by means of a deadly weapon, intentionally cause injury by means of a deadly weapon, or intend to and cause serious bodily injury. Assault in the second degree is usually a class 4 felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000, but may be charged as a class 3 felony in certain circumstances and may be punishable by up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.
An assault crime is usually of the first degree if the alleged offender causes serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon or disfigures or disables an alleged victim. An act committed upon “a sudden heat of passion” is a class 5 felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. In all other cases, first-degree assault is a class 3 felony punishable by up to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.
An alleged offender commits a menacing offense if they knowingly place or attempt to place an alleged victim in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Menacing is ordinarily a Class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $750. Menacing can be a class 5 felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000 if the alleged offense is committed by use of a deadly weapon or any object that causes a person to reasonably believe it is a deadly weapon, or representing verbally or otherwise that the alleged offender is armed with a deadly weapon.
An alleged offender commits criminal mischief when they knowingly damage the real or personal property of an alleged victim. Criminal mischief can range from class 3 misdemeanor to class 2 felony, depending on the value of the aggregate damage.
An alleged offender commits obstruction of telephone or telegraph service if they knowingly interfere by any means whatsoever in an alleged victim’s attempted use of any telegraph or telephone. Obstruction of telephone or telegraph service is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
An alleged offender commits false imprisonment if they confine or detain an alleged victim without their consent and without proper legal authority. False imprisonment is normally a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If the alleged offender uses force or threat of force to confine or detain the alleged victim and confines or detains the alleged victim for 12 hours or longer, false imprisonment is a class 5 felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
An alleged offender commits an offense if they violate any of the terms of a protection order after being served a protection order. A first-time violation of a protection order is a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. A second or subsequent violation of a protection order is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
It is important to understand that when an alleged victim tells you that they are going to “drop the charges,” they do not actually have the power to do so. Criminal charges are filed by the district attorney assigned to your case and they alone decide whether to prosecute, not the alleged victim.
Courts in Colorado can impose a broad variety of restrictions on alleged offenders as a condition of bond in domestic violence cases. Court orders may prevent a person from returning to a shared home or even seeing their children.
While domestic violence is not a separate criminal charge, its involvement in certain criminal cases can result in the possible enhancement of penalties if the alleged offender is convicted of the underlying crime. Some of the possible sentencing enhancements may involve any of the following court orders:
Completion of a domestic violence treatment program
Home detention (“house arrest”) with electronic monitoring
Loss of firearm rights
Habitual offender enhancement
In Colorado, a person convicted of a misdemeanor involving domestic violence who has three prior convictions that include acts of domestic violence will be convicted as a habitual domestic violence offender, which is a class 5 felony punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Colorado has what is known as a mandatory arrest law when it comes to domestic violence. Under Colorado Revised Statute § 18-6-803.6, a peace officer who determines that there is probable cause to believe that a crime or offense involving domestic violence has been committed is required to arrest the alleged offender suspected of its commission as soon as reasonably possible.
This law leads to countless people being arrested under highly dubious circumstances, as law enforcement agencies are obligated to arrest someone even when there is little to no evidence supporting the criminal charges. I can quickly identify all weaknesses of a prosecutor’s cases relating to weak or complete lack of evidence.
While alleged victims who recant their original allegations do not have the power to affect the status of criminal charges, the testimony they are willing to provide for prosecutors can impact filing decisions. I will fight to have your charges reduced or completely dismissed.
My firm can also assist you in dealing with many of the other consequences associated with domestic violence arrests. I can help you deal with protection orders, restraining orders, and no-contact orders.
A protection order or restraining order is usually temporary, while a no-contact order is typically permanent. The provisions of these types of orders can often be complicated and some may seem contradictory, but the I can help ensure your compliance and work to achieve a lifestyle of complete freedom.
If you have been charged with domestic violence in Colorado, you need an experienced Denver domestic violence attorney to protect your rights. For more than a decade, I have exclusively defended those facing criminal charges in Colorado and was named Attorney of the Year in 2007 for the Denver Trial Office of the Colorado State Public Defender.
Do not speak to the police without legal representation. Call today or contact me online to receive an evaluation of your case during a free consultation.