Domestic violence is described as a pattern of abusive behavior in a relationship. It is often used by one partner to maintain or gain control and power over the other partner.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), an average of 20 people are physically abused every minute by an intimate partner in the U.S. This is unacceptable, and it’s something that all of us need to work to change.
But even as we work to stamp out this type of violence, we also need to recognize that there are all kinds of reasons that someone may be charged with this crime, and they deserve to have their rights protected. If you’ve been arrested for domestic violence, you there are a number of things that you need to understand.
A knowledgeable Colorado criminal defense attorney will be able to explain your charges, the penalties that you are facing, and the potential options available to you. Every situation is unique, but there are a few critical things you should know about Colorado domestic violence law in general.
- Domestic Violence is Not Just Physical Abuse
Most people have the misconception that you must physically harm another person to be charged with domestic violence. However, you don’t necessarily need to subject someone to physical contact to be arrested. Threatening someone, breaking personal property, calling or texting repeatedly, or using obscene language can all result in a domestic violence charge in Colorado, depending on the circumstances.
- Charges are Followed by a Mandatory Restraining Order
If you have been charged with domestic violence, expect a mandatory restraining order to soon follow. A mandatory protective order is issued by the court in a criminal proceeding, and prohibits the defendant from going near the victim’s home or work, having direct or indirect contact with the victim, possessing firearms or other weapons, and from possessing or consuming alcohol or other controlled substances. Additional restrictions can be added.
- Colorado Has a “No-Drop” Policy
Colorado differs from many states in that it has a “no-drop” prosecution policy. This means that the victim cannot simply “drop” the charges, even if he or she has second thoughts. Even if you and your partner make up. Even if they come forward and say that they were making the whole thing up. Only the prosecutor has the power to drop charges, and they are unlikely to do so unless they believe that it would be impossible to prove the case at trial.
- The Defendant Must Appear Before the Judge before Posting Bail
When a person is charged with or arrested on a criminal domestic violence charge, he or she will not be allowed to post bail until they have appeared before a judge. In some cases, the prosecutor may ask the accused to enter into a plea agreement immediately. The prosecutor may threaten to add on more charges or even jail time if you fail to accept the offered plea deal. This is just one of the reasons it’s so important to have a skilled defense attorney by your side.
- The Implications If You’re Accused Can Vary
If you have been accused of domestic violence, you may spend a few hours or even a night in jail, especially if the police feel that the situation could escalate if you’re let go. A person charged with domestic violence and found guilty may be sentenced to a treatment program, house arrest, and/or probation. If the defendant has three or more related domestic violence charges, the person can be charged as a “habitual domestic violence offender.”
If you have been charged with domestic violence, it’s important to act fast. Remain quiet until you’ve acquired legal aid, and do not make any further contact with the victim. Contact a Colorado defense lawyer to learn and understand your rights and what you can to in your specific situation.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.