It’s not uncommon for people who are facing criminal charges to wonder if they really need a lawyer. After all, hiring an experienced attorney can be costly, and many domestic violence cases involve victims that may not even want to press charges. So is it really that serious?
The truth is that a Colorado domestic violence conviction brings with it serious consequences that can impact the rest of your life. Hiring an attorney experienced in domestic violence law can help reduce the repercussions that a domestic violence case can have on your life – and obtain the best outcome possible for you.
If you’re still not sure, here are a few reasons you need a lawyer for your Colorado domestic violence case.
Domestic Violence in Colorado
In the state of Colorado, domestic violence isn’t considered a crime on its own. Instead, it’s an enhancement or an aggravating factor to another crime that can result in increased penalties for the underlying offense.
Domestic violence crimes commonly include:
- Sexual assault
- Child abuse
- Sexual contact
Really, any crime can have domestic violence as an enhancement if it’s perpetrated against someone considered to be an intimate relation. This is someone to whom the perpetrator is married or has been married, someone they have dated or are currently dating, or someone with whom they share a child.
Penalties for Domestic Violence
Domestic violence as an enhancement doesn’t have a specific penalty, since it depends on the underlying crime. But often a judge will extend a restraining order against the accused as a result of a conviction. They will require the defendant to be evaluated and complete a court-approved domestic violence therapy program.
If, however, you are convicted for the fourth time of a charge involving a domestic violence enhancement, then the court will consider you a habitual domestic violence offender. That designation does come along with harsher penalties.
A fourth conviction amounts to a Class 5 felony, and it can result in up to three years in prison as well as fines of as much as $100,000.
Defending Against Domestic Violence Charges
Make no mistake – domestic violence charges are very serious in Colorado. Even if the victim wants to have the charges dropped, the prosecutor will likely keep pursuing the charges against you if they feel they have adequate evidence for a conviction. This makes an experienced attorney on your side even more important.
What can an attorney do for you and your domestic violence case? They can:
Fight for You
One of the first things a criminal defense attorney will do is explore the case to see if they can have the charges against you dropped. If prosecutors do want to continue, then it’s possible for your attorney to make a motion in court to have charges dropped due to lack of evidence or even a violation of your rights in the case. They will examine every aspect of your case to see if there’s an avenue to drop the charges.
Helps You Understand What to Say
If you try to talk to the police without an attorney present, they may get you to voice something that can be used against you later. Remember, anything you say and do can be used against you after you’ve had your Miranda Rights read, so you must be careful. An experienced attorney can be present when you are questioned and ensure that your rights aren’t being violated in the process. They are protection for you.
Create a Solid Defense
A great defense is all about strategy, and a good attorney knows how to take the facts surrounding your specific case and help to formulate the best defense. Best of all, they involve you in this process and clearly explain your options, including attempts to negotiate plea bargains with the prosecution. Whatever way you decide to go with your case, they will fight hard to ensure you get the best outcome possible.
Help with Restraining Orders
Protective orders can make life very difficult for you. They may require you to move from your home, pay child support, and even abandon your job if you and the victim share a workplace. You simply cannot continue living your life as you ordinarily would, and that’s a problem. An experienced attorney will work with you to help reduce the impact of the order – and perhaps even convince the court that it’s not needed.
You are entitled to a defense, so make sure to have an attorney by your side.
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.