Colorado does not have a standalone statute or charge dedicated to domestic violence. After all, domestic violence cannot be defined by one single action.
Instead, domestic violence (DV) is a broad term that is separated into a handful of categories. Physical violence is just one type of domestic violence, and is not the only type of DV that is against Colorado law.
In other words, even if you have not hit or put your hands the alleged victim, you still could face penalties for domestic violence.
Below are a few different examples of domestic violence that do not involve any physical contact but still count as criminal behavior in our state:
Physical violence doesn’t have to happen in order for domestic violence to occur. If you made a spouse, roommate, etc. feel like they were in danger of physical violence, you may still be charged. One common example is intimidation. Backing a person into a corner or breaking objects in the house can create a sense of danger.
A threat of violence also counts as domestic violence in Colorado law. Threats include utterances, phone calls, or messages that express the intention to injure someone or cause bodily injury. Using threats repeatedly in order to gain control over another person is “psychological violence.”
Threats are also referred to as “menacing.” Even if you make a “joke” and are not genuinely threatening someone, if it could be interpreted as threatening, you may be charged.
Colorado defines stalking as an occurrence when someone “repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, places under surveillance or makes any form of communication with another person or person’s family.” Stalking is also commonly tied to threats.
Something important to note: this doesn’t have to involve physical stalking. Cyberstalking is also considered domestic violence.
Both stalking and menacing are class 5 felonies in Colorado. If you are convicted, you may face up to 18 months in prison and/or up to $100,000 in fines. Felonies are serious charges, and may result in the loss of voting rights (while incarcerated.)
Domestic violence does not just involve a significant other. Acts of domestic violence can be committed against housemates or roommates, relatives, parents, or children. If you are responsible for caring for someone’s physical needs (like a child or an ailing parent,) your neglect could be considered domestic violence.
Examples of neglect could be starving the victim, failing to take them to a medical professional for injuries or serious illnesses, or failing to fulfill other basic human needs.
Emotional abuse aims to break down a victim’s self-esteem or self-worth through a series of actions or threats. In other words, you cannot be charged with a crime for telling a significant other that they “look ugly” once. Rather, emotional abuse is something that takes place over the course of months or years. Accusations of emotional abuse during a divorce settlement can have an impact on child custody settlements.
These five examples just begin to cover the many actions that could be interpreted as domestic violence. There are many different charges that could be considered domestic violence, but they all have serious penalties. If convicted, you may face a restraining order, the loss of firearm rights, and incarceration.
Still have questions about your domestic violence charges? Reach out to a Colorado defense lawyer.
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.