Many people have a narrow conception of what domestic violence looks like. Typically, they envision a scared wife cowering from an abusive husband. Domestic violence can take many forms, however.
Not only can it include a variety of family members as well as significant others, but it also includes violence among same-sex partners.
Violence in the Colorado LGBTQ Community
The LGBTQ community has been slow to identify and combat domestic violence among its members. Yet some surveys show that one in every four individuals from this community has experienced violence in a relationship.
Take, for example, a Colorado woman who endured physical abuse at the hands of her female partner in the early 2000s. Because of society’s view toward same-sex couples at the time, she had a difficult time seeing the abuse for what it was.
Others in similar situations have been afraid to report the abuse for fear of making the gay community “look bad.” Times have changed, though, and there is less stigma around LGBTQ couples.
This means that violence between every kind of couple is more likely to be reported. This also means that the abuser, regardless of their orientation, is more likely to be charged with domestic violence.
Colorado Law and Domestic Violence
Colorado criminal code defines domestic violence as an act of violence, or threatened violence, against someone whom the aggressor is (or has been) in an intimate relationship with.
This could include a current or former spouse or lover, or the parent of your child, and applies to LGBTQ couples as well.
Domestic violence charges can also be tacked onto other crimes (such as property crimes) if done so to coerce, punish, intimidate, or control the victim, or exact revenge upon them.
To be clear, you do not actually have to physically hurt your partner to be convicted of a domestic violence charge.
Colorado Domestic Violence Penalties
In Colorado, domestic violence is not punished under a separate statute, but instead, is connected to the underlying violent act. There are a variety of penalties that you could be faced with, depending on the situation.
The penalties specifically associated with “domestic violence” itself include a variety of protective orders filed against you or orders of house arrest, among other things.
Protective orders are often filed against someone who is suspected of committing domestic violence. A person can file a protective order if they have been the victim of violence at the hand of their same-sex partner.
There are three different types of protective orders that can be filed:
- Temporary Protection Order: Issued when the victim is in immediate danger and needs an expedited order to protect them from their significant other. The suspect does not need to be notified or be present in court for this order to be issued.
- Permanent Protection Order: Ordered after both parties have been to court and when the judge believes that the abuser is likely to commit acts of violence against the victim again.
- Emergency Protection Order: Issued by law enforcement when they believe that a victim is in immediate danger of being abused (again).
House arrest is sometimes a possibility for those convicted of domestic violence. However, if the abuser and victim share a home, this will not be an option.
They are more likely to receive orders that require the offender to find alternative housing altogether.
Other Possible Penalties
Under Colorado law, certain circumstances will result in your prohibition from owning or purchasing firearms.
You could also be sentenced to probation, or even ordered to undergo an appropriate treatment program and evaluation.
Also, any prior convictions related to domestic violence could increase any of these or other associated criminal penalties.
Jail time is also a possibility, but again, a prison sentence would actually be connected to the violent crime charge your domestic violence enhancement accompanies.
So regardless of your orientation, no one gets a pass on hurting their companions in Colorado. If you do wind up in trouble, it is critical to know what you’re up against and how to defend yourself against a domestic violence charge.
There is a lot at stake should you ever have a partner, current or previous, making allegations 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” 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.