In Colorado, domestic violence crimes are in a league of their own. This crime is more common than most people want to acknowledge, which is why the state’s legal system has mechanisms meant to protect victims.
The issue is that those exact mechanisms that help protect some people can cause consequences for someone accused of a crime related to domestic violence. That’s why it’s vital to understand how that can impact your life going forward if you’re facing domestic violence accusations or any type of charges related to domestic violence in the state.
Here is what you need to know about what happens after being accused of domestic violence in Colorado and how to protect yourself.
Understanding Domestic Violence Laws in Colorado
In Colorado, domestic violence is the act or the threat of an act of violence against someone with whom the perpetrator has an intimate relationship.
The key to this charge is the victim and their status as having an intimate relationship with the perpetrator, which is why the law also defines what it means to have an intimate relationship. In the state, two people have an intimate relationship under the law if they:
- Have been married, or are currently married
- Have been in a romantic relationship, or now are you in a romantic relationship
- Share a child, regardless of whether they’re married or not
The laws outlining domestic violence in Colorado also include property damage to control, intimidate, coerce, or punish the person with whom they have an intimate relationship.
What If You are Accused of Domestic Violence?
Suppose the police are called and have probable cause to believe that domestic violence is occurring and that you are the perpetrator. They can immediately arrest you under Colorado Law. They are obligated to detain you if they believe domestic violence is happening because Colorado is a mandatory arrest state.
How do they determine whether to arrest a person? They have to consider a few factors, such as:
- Whether or not you were acting in self-defense
- If there are any previous complaints involving domestic violence
- If there is a risk of future injuries to the parties involved
- An individual’s injuries and how severe they are as a result of them
It’s also important to note that those who are considered victims of domestic violence cannot press charges, nor do they have the ability to drop them against someone else. It’s the state of Colorado that decides whether a case of domestic violence is to be prosecuted or not.
The Penalties You Can Face
If the government decides to press charges against you for domestic violence, you can face severe penalties. However, Colorado doesn’t view domestic violence as a crime. Instead, it’s a sentence enhancer for an underlying crime such as assault. The underlying crime you are charged with will inform the types of penalties you can face and how harsh those penalties are.
It’s also important to note that those with previous convictions for domestic violence crimes are considered repeat offenders. Therefore, their penalties are much harsher than those with fewer than three domestic violence convictions.
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.