Batterer – it’s not a pretty stigma. However, if you are charged with domestic battery, stigma and damage to your reputation will be just a few of the many consequences you face.
Even an accusation of domestic violence will trigger an automatic protective order. This order is intended to protect the alleged victim, but it results in severe restrictions on the defendant’s civil liberties – especially if the defendant and victim live together.
If you are hit with a domestic battery charge, or think that this is a possibility, it’s very important to understand what you’re up against. Therefore, we’ve put together a guide explaining what it means to be charged with domestic battery in Colorado.
How Colorado Defines Battery
In Colorado, battery, also known as “menacing,” is defined as any threat or physical action that causes the victim to believe that they are in danger of bodily harm. In other words, you don’t need to actually hurt someone to be charged with domestic battery.
Common examples of battery include:
- Use of verbal threats
- Making threatening phone calls or sending threatening messages
- Causing physical damage to property
- Pointing a deadly weapon at the victim
- Other forms of harassment
How Colorado Domestic Violence Laws Work
In Colorado, there are no specific statutes that directly cover domestic violence as opposed to assault, battery, or harassment that could be committed against a stranger. Instead, domestic violence is an enhancement to whatever physical crime was committed.
If an act of violence is committed against someone with whom the defendant has a current or prior intimate relationship, a domestic violence enhancement will be applied to the criminal charge.
For example, if the defendant harassed an ex-boyfriend or girlfriend, this would be charged as harassment or battery, and the domestic violence enhancement would be added to this charge – collectively, this would be referred to as domestic battery.
Although domestic violence is an enhancement to other criminal charges, a domestic violence conviction often has far more serious civil and criminal consequences than the offense with which it was associated. This means that any charges of domestic violence can and should be taken very seriously.
What It Means to Face a Domestic Battery Charge in Colorado
A domestic violence charge triggers a number of civil and criminal measures that are put into place in order to protect the alleged victim. Importantly, the civil consequences apply as soon as you are charged with domestic violence. These measures are intended to protect the alleged victim from retaliation, but also mean that your life could change drastically even if you are innocent, and the alleged victim’s claims are false or misconstrued.
If you are accused of domestic violence, the following civil and criminal consequences begin immediately:
- Automatic arrest: When police arrive at the scene of domestic violence, they will arrest the defendant if they find that there is probable cause that domestic violence occurred.
- Protective order: As soon as you are charged with domestic violence, a protective order will immediately be issued. Under the protective order, you will not be allowed to come within a certain distance of the alleged victim, or make any form of contact with the victim. If you live with the victim, you will be forced to vacate the premises.
- Firearms: Under a protective order, you will be required to relinquish any firearms currently in your possession. You will also be unable to buy guns until the order has been lifted.
After domestic violence charges are pressed, you will be prosecuted criminally. If you are found innocent or the charges are dropped, the protective order will be lifted and life as usual will proceed.
However, if you are convicted of domestic violence, you will face the following consequences, on top of criminal penalties for the actual act of violence:
- Protective order: The protective order will most likely be extended, as will all of the civil restrictions we listed above.
- Child custody: Although a domestic violence conviction doesn’t mean that you will automatically lose all custody to your children, the conviction will be considered when awarding joint custody. If the offense harmed the children and/or is perceived as an ongoing threat, it’s possible that you’ll lose custody.
- Domestic violence treatment programs: If your sentence does not include imprisonment, you will be required to complete a domestic violence treatment program and evaluation.
All of this is why it’s so important to know the law, and fight back to beat any charges of domestic violence 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.