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Colorado Criminal Defense Blog

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Denver’s annual domestic violence report was just released on September 21st and it has some interesting information about domestic violence in Denver this year.

Overall, crimes related to domestic violence are down in 2020 when compared with the same period last year. Still, domestic violence is an issue here, with an average of 5.3 domestic violence crimes reported each day.

So what sorts of actions constitute domestic violence? What types of penalties can someone receive if convicted of a domestic violence crime? Read on to find out more about this crucial topic.

What is Domestic Violence in Colorado?

Domestic violence is one of the biggest issues in Colorado and the entire United States. It happens every day. Understanding exactly what it is can help those in the community to take more decisive action against it and its many manifestations.

Victims and abusers alike can benefit from understanding what actions constitute domestic violence and its many forms.

Simply put, domestic violence is a form of abuse. The United States Department of Justice considers domestic violence to be a pattern of abusive behavior in any type of relationship.

One partner often uses domestic violence as a tool to maintain or gain control over the other, and there are many types of abuse that fall under the umbrella of domestic violence, including:

  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Economic abuse
  • Stalking
  • Psychological abuse

Learn a bit more about each of these types of abuse below, in order to understand why you may be facing domestic violence charges.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse includes actions such as biting, hitting, shoving, burning, pinching, cutting, pulling hair, slapping, punching, and other violent behavior toward another. It can also include forcing someone to take drugs or alcohol and denying medical treatment.

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse involves deflated or invalidating a victim’s self-esteem or self-worth. This type of abuse often takes the form of name-calling, interfering with a person’s abilities, damaging their relationship with their children, and constant criticism.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when someone attempts to coerce or coerces a person into sexual behavior or contact without their consent. Marital rape, physical violence that then forces sex, the attack of sexual body parts, making sexual jokes at the expense of the victim, and demeaning the victim sexually are all considered acts of sexual abuse.

Economic Abuse

What is Domestic Violence in Colorado?

Economic abuse occurs when an abuser tries to make or makes a person financially reliant on them. They seek to maintain control over all financial resources in an effort to keep the victim tied to them. That can mean withholding access to funds or prohibiting someone from going to work or school.


Staking is a crime that involves following, watching, harassing, showing up unannounced at home or work, spying, collecting information, leaving written notes, sending unwanted gifts, and making phone calls to the victim. Individually these acts are legal, but when they’re done consistently then someone can be charged with stalking.

Psychological Abuse

This type of abuse occurs when someone invokes fear through threats or intimidation to the victim, their family or friends, or even pets. Destroying property, isolating the victim, injuring pets, and keeping the victim from going to work or school — these are all also considered types of psychological abuse.

The Penalties for Domestic Violence

In Colorado, domestic violence is considered an enhancement to other charges — usually assault. That means that it coincides with another (or more than one other) charge, and typically triggers the following actions:

Protective Order

A mandatory order of protection that bars the defendant from contacting the victim. If the protective order is violated, then the penalty is up to 18 months in jail and fines up to $5,000.

Mandatory Arrest

Colorado also happens to be a mandatory arrest state. This means that when the police have reason to believe (probable cause) that someone is perpetrating domestic violence, then they can arrest them. It does not matter if the victim of the abuse wants to press charges or not.

Treatment Program

If convicted of domestic violence, then the defendant may be ordered to complete a domestic violence treatment program. Habitual domestic violence offenders, or offenders who are convicted four or more times, can serve up to three years in prison and be ordered to pay fines up to $100,000.

Domestic Violence Risk and Needs Assessment

Denver Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer

Domestic violence is extensively researched and because of that several tools are used to help understand how pervasive the issue is so that treatments can be created to help prevent it. The Domestic Violence Risk and Needs Assessment tool is used to help identify factors that put someone at risk for future abuse or re-abuse by a known perpetrator.

Treatment providers offer specific treatment to domestic violence perpetrators, and this tool helps to make that treatment more effective. That’s why you should consider participating in it if you’re ever in a position to do so.


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” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2020 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. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.

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