There’s no doubt: crime charges that include domestic violence can be devastating to a person’s life. That’s why it’s vital, if you’re facing domestic violence charges, to make sure you mount the most robust defense possible.
Sometimes, help in defense can come from an unlikely source: the victim. There are actually many ways in which a victim can help with a Colorado domestic violence case. So, if you’re facing charges like this, don’t give up hope. Here’s what you need to know about domestic violence in Colorado and the ways in which a victim can help win the case for you instead of against you.
Domestic Violence in Colorado
It’s important to understand that, while some states call domestic violence an independent crime, that’s not the case in Colorado. In fact, domestic violence in Colorado is considered an aggravating factor in another crime, such as assault or a sentence enhancement, not a crime all by itself.
If you are convicted of a crime with domestic violence as an aggravating factor, it can increase the penalty for offenses. This goes especially since the victims are protected under domestic violence statutes; for example, people with whom you were previously in a relationship or married.
In Colorado, any time the police suspect domestic violence is occurring, the arrest is mandatory. The victims’ desires in the situation don’t play into arrest or charges in the case at all, but they can influence the case further down the line.
Common Domestic Violence Crimes in Colorado
There are a few crimes that often have domestic violence included as an aggravating factor. They include:
- Violation of a restraining order
- Sexual assault
- False imprisonment
- Child abuse
- Elder abuse
- Sexual contact
Of course, domestic violence can apply to really any type of criminal charge if it’s perpetrated against the person or property of someone in your household or family, including former spouses or partners.
The Penalties for Domestic Violence
Remember, domestic violence is an enhancement, which means that the penalties depend on the underlying charge involved. However, as an enhancement, the judge can order time tacked onto a sentence. They may also order the perpetrator to complete a treatment program specifically for domestic violence.
If someone is convicted for a crime with an enhancement of domestic violence for the fourth time, they can be charged as a habitual domestic offender, which is itself a Class 5 felony. That can result in up to three years in prison and fines of as much as $100,000.
The Role of the Victim
In a domestic violence case, the victim can play different roles. They may be asked to come to court and testify for the prosecution or to provide evidence in the form of documents to the court.
Often, before a case starts, the victim can meet with the judge to explain what they think should happen to the defendant. Sometimes a judge may also seek their advice when a perpetrator may be released. They may ask the victim what they think.
If someone is named as a victim in a case involving domestic violence, there are things they can do to help if they feel the charges are inappropriate. For one, they can simply ask the prosecutor to drop the charges. This doesn’t always work, but the prosecutors should take their wishes into account in some situations.
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.