Domestic violence is an issue many Coloradans have to deal with. Because of this, our state takes crimes involving domestic violence very seriously, and being found guilty of a crime involving it can have a major impact on your life going forward.
That’s why it’s necessary for all Colorado residents to understand what the law says about domestic violence. Having a little understanding of our laws can help you navigate situations that may arise and understand your own rights in the process.
Here is what you need to know about Colorado’s domestic violence laws.
How Does Colorado Law Define Domestic Violence?
While many people think they know what domestic violence is, its definition under the law may be different than you think. And it’s this legal definition that will inform the charges a person will face, so it’s vital to have an understanding.
Under Colorado criminal statutes, a person commits domestic violence if they threaten to perpetrate an act of violence or actually engage in violence against someone with whom they have an intimate relationship. It’s a pattern of behavior that can be considered coercive or controlling, and can involve psychological, financial, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
The law further clarifies that an intimate relationship is one that exists between people who are married or have been, those who are romantically involved or have been, and any two people that share a child.
Being Arrested for Domestic Violence in Denver
Colorado is a state where if the police have probable cause to believe domestic violence is occurring, they are required to arrest the person they believe to be responsible for it.
In our state, domestic violence is a crime that is fast-tracked, which means that not only are you arrested at the scene, officers must file their incident report on that same day as well. You will have to stay in jail until you go before a judge, where you must submit your plea of guilty or not guilty.
How long can you stay in jail? Typically, it’s overnight. However, if you get arrested on a weekend, you will have to remain in jail until Monday, when you can go before a judge.
Alleged Victims in Colorado Do Not Press Charges
Due to Colorado’s laws regarding mandatory arrest in cases involving domestic violence, it’s up to the police to surmise if domestic violence has occurred and make the arrest. So, even if the victim does not want their partner arrested, it’s out of their hands.
Moreover, even if the accuser wants the charges dismissed, it’s not up to them. The court and prosecution are the only entities that can decide if there’s enough evidence to proceed with charges. The victim has little to do with what happens once the police arrive at the scene.
The Penalties for Denver Domestic Violence
Colorado takes domestic violence very seriously, and the penalties for these crimes reflect that. However, this type of crime is not a standalone offense. Rather, it’s a sentence enhancer for an underlying crime, such as assault or harassment. As an enhancer, it impacts the potential incarceration time, fines, and any other penalties that a person may face if convicted.
Of course, time in jail and fines aren’t the only negative impacts of a domestic violence enhancement. You can also face challenges involving employment, child visitation, military service, your ability to own a firearm, and even your ability to get a loan if you have a conviction involving domestic violence on your record.
Additionally, every domestic violence charge on your record can lead to more serious penalties for future convictions. For example, if a person has three or more domestic violence convictions, they will be labeled as a habitual domestic violence offender. This is a felony that falls under Class 5, which means it can send you to prison by itself for up to three years and make you responsible for fines of as much as $100,000.
If you are facing a criminal charge with an enhancement for domestic violence, then you need the help of an experienced domestic violence attorney as soon as possible. Remember, domestic violence cases are fast-tracked in our state, so you are expected to quickly enter a plea. Make sure an attorney is at your side to ensure you understand your rights and the charges against you.
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 & 2019-2022” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2022 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020-2022. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.