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Understanding Colorado’s Domestic Violence Enhancer

Posted on 12/21/22

Facing a domestic violence charge is a very serious matter with potentially dire consequences. Understanding the entire court process can be overwhelming, but with the right help and advice, you will be able to make informed decisions as you move forward with your case. Whether it’s navigating the paperwork or preparing for a court hearing, the right lawyer will provide guidance and advocacy throughout your proceedings to keep you informed and supported every step of the way. If you need assistance, contact us today to schedule a free consultation. 

What is a Domestic Violence Enhancer?

In Colorado, domestic violence is not its own charge. Instead, a domestic violence enhancer is applied to the underlying criminal charge. It is a provision that allows prosecutors to enhance the punishment for certain offenses if they are committed against someone you have an intimate relationship with. 

In other words, if you are convicted of an offense that involves domestic violence, you may face more severe penalties than you would have faced if the crime had not been considered one involving domestic violence. 

For example, if you are convicted of assault and battery and it is determined that there was an element of domestic abuse involved in the incident, you could be subject to a domestic violence enhancer, and therefore enhanced penalties such as longer prison sentences or higher fines.

What is an Intimate Relationship?

Under Colorado law, domestic violence is defined as an act or threatened act of violence against an intimate partner. This term includes current and former spouses, dating partners, and parents of shared children. There’s no requirement that you live with the person for a domestic violence enhancer to be applied.

What Types of Offenses Can Trigger a Domestic Violence Enhancer?   

Generally speaking, any type of offense can trigger a domestic violence enhancer. This includes both violent offenses such as assault and battery as well as non-violent offenses such as theft or fraud. The key factor here is whether there was some element of abuse or violence towards an intimate partner in connection with the offense. 

If there was, then prosecutors may use this as grounds to seek harsher punishments through enhanced sentencing guidelines. A domestic violence enhancer can even be used in crimes against pets and property. 

The Far-Reaching Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction in Colorado 

Domestic violence convictions can result in jail time and fines, but they may also carry additional penalties that extend beyond the original sentence. 

Individuals who are convicted of domestic violence will not be able to obtain certain job opportunities or professional licenses. For example, if someone with a conviction wants to become a teacher or a nurse, they will likely be denied due to the background check process. Similarly, those with convictions will find it difficult to get approved for housing applications.  

Another common consequence involves child custody rights; if someone has been convicted of domestic violence, they may not be able to receive legal custody of their children since this would put the children at risk of more abuse from their parent(s). Individuals may also lose parental rights completely if they fail to comply with court orders related to their convictions such as attending mandatory counseling sessions or paying fines/restitution payments on time.  

Finally, those who have been convicted could face immigration issues if they are not citizens of the United States. Depending on the severity of their crime(s) they could be deported back to their home country which can cause significant disruption for them and their families. 

These are just some of the potential consequences of a domestic violence charge. They should always be taken seriously, and you should always contact a criminal defense lawyer right away if you’re facing a domestic violence enhancer. If you need help, contact our Colorado Springs domestic violence attorneys today to schedule a free consultation.