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Different Types of Domestic Violence Charges in Colorado

Posted on 06/14/24

In Colorado, domestic violence (DV) is not categorized as a standalone criminal offense. Instead, it functions as a sentencing enhancement or aggravator, which means that if you’re found to have committed this type of crime, the penalties for the underlying offense can be increased due to the domestic violence aspect of the case.

The definition of domestic violence extends beyond physical acts of harm. It includes any act or threatened act of violence against a person with whom you currently have or previously had an intimate relationship (§ 18-6-800.3).

“Domestic violence” means an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. “Domestic violence” also includes any other crime against a person, or against property, including an animal, or any municipal ordinance violation against a person, or against property, including an animal, when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. 

An “intimate relationship” is not limited to marital partners and can involve individuals who’ve been in a romantic engagement, lived together, dated, or shared children.

“Intimate relationship” means a relationship between spouses, former spouses, past or present unmarried couples, or persons who are both the parents of the same child regardless of whether the persons have been married or have lived together at any time.

Important Considerations for Domestic Violence Charges in Colorado

When facing domestic violence allegations in Colorado, it is essential to be aware of several critical factors that could affect the outcome of your case.

Enhanced Penalties for Offenses

Colorado law imposes stricter penalties for any crime committed against a current or past spouse, intimate partner, or cohabitant. The involvement of domestic violence can lead to increased severity in sentencing.

Protection Orders

Once domestic violence charges are filed, the court automatically issues a mandatory protection order. This order is designed to ensure the safety of the alleged victim by prohibiting the accused from making any form of contact. Violating this protection order can result in additional charges and penalties.

Mandatory Arrest Policy

Colorado operates under a mandatory arrest policy for domestic violence incidents. If law enforcement officers have probable cause to believe that an individual has committed domestic violence, they are required by law to arrest the suspect immediately.

Prosecution Despite Victim Recantation

One notable aspect of Colorado’s approach to domestic violence is that prosecution can proceed even if the alleged victim withdraws their complaint or expresses a desire not to press charges. Prosecutors retain the authority to move forward with the case based on the evidence at hand, even if the victim doesn’t wish to participate.

Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction in Colorado

The penalties for a domestic violence conviction in Colorado are largely determined by the underlying charge, as domestic violence acts as an enhancement to the base offense. For many misdemeanor charges, offenders may end up receiving probation instead of serving time in jail. 

Additionally, judges often mandate that the convicted individual undergo an evaluation and complete a domestic violence treatment program. It is also common for the restraining order to be extended.

It is crucial to be aware that accumulating four domestic violence convictions will classify you as a habitual domestic violence offender. This designation is a class 5 felony, which carries severe penalties, including:

  • A prison sentence ranging from 1 to 3 years in Colorado State Prison, accompanied by a mandatory 2-year parole period.
  • Monetary fines ranging between $1,000 and $100,000.

These penalties are in addition to any sentences handed down for the underlying offense.

Beyond the immediate legal consequences, a domestic violence conviction can have significant and long-lasting effects on various aspects of your life, including:

  • Job prospects and career opportunities
  • Professional licenses
  • Child custody and parental rights
  • Access to housing and loans
  • Military status, if applicable

It’s critical for anyone facing charges linked to domestic violence in Colorado to take these accusations seriously due to their profound consequences. If you need help, contact Anaya & Chadderdon to schedule a free consultation with a Colorado Springs domestic violence defense lawyer.