In Colorado, a domestic violence charge is not a separate offense, but under C.R.S. § 18-6-800.3 it is a classification alleging a crime was committed with another person who is or was involved in an intimate relationship with the offender. Common Colorado domestic violence charges include 3rd Degree Assault, Harassment, Menacing, Disorderly Conduct, Criminal Mischief and False Imprisonment. A conviction for domestic violence, even if it is a misdemeanor or petty offense, can have lasting consequences such as incarceration, probation, domestic violence treatment, and a permanent prohibition on possessing a firearm.
C.R.S. § 18-6-800.3 defines “Domestic violence” as “an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.” An “intimate relationship” means “a relationship between spouses, former spouses, past or present unmarried couples, or persons who are both the parents of the same child regardless of whether the persons have been married or have lived together at any time.”
When a person is accused of a domestic violence charge, a mandatory arrest will take place, and a judge must review the allegations before allowing a bond be posted. Pre-trial conditions such as monitored sobriety and travel restrictions may be placed on the defendant, and a mandatory no contact order is always ordered, prohibiting contact of any type with the alleged victim. This often require the accused to move out of the residence where his or her spouse an children live while the case is pending.
No relationship is without its struggles, and sometimes tensions can rise beyond a breaking point. People can say or do things they do not mean or would not otherwise do in the heat of the moment. This is when arguments turn violent, or false allegations are made. Domestic violence is a serious charge in Colorado law that should not be taken lightly. If the case gets to trial and there is a domestic violence charge on your record, you are unlikely to have a smooth trial or preferable outcome.
What Counts as Domestic Violence?
Unlike other categories of assault, domestic violence charges have certain requirements in court that attorneys need to understand and follow. For instance, if the defendant has been charged with assault, of which domestic violence is included, the defendant cannot make any guilty plea that does not include pleading guilty to domestic violence unless the attorney is able to prove that the defendant and the victim were not in any form of relationship, or the DA makes a record in court that they cannot prove a prima facie case of domestic violence.
This means that you don’t have to actually hurt, or even touch, your partner to be charged with domestic violence. If you are found to have been threatening the alleged victim or acting violent with the goal of controlling them, whether it was breaking items, prohibiting the use of items such as a mobile phone, or destroying or damaging property (putting a hole in a wall), the police can accuse you of domestic violence. The law also has a broad definition of the relationship you have with the victim for it to be classified as domestic violence. You don’t have to be married to, currently dating, or even have a current intimate relationship with the victim. The victim can be a former or current spouse, former or current romantic partner, former or current roommate, or parent to your child.
Consequences of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence charges are added on to assault or other offenses, meaning you might be convicted of assault with a domestic violence misdemeanor added to your record. This is done so that the law can identify repeat offenders, so that if you have three or more prior domestic violence convictions it becomes nearly impossible to dispute any new domestic violence charges, and can upgrade your misdemeanor offenses to a Class 5 Felony. C.R.S. § 18-6-801 Once convicted of a Class 5 Felony, a defendant is subject to at least a year in prison as well as fines and the forfeiture of certain rights. In Colorado, these rights include the right to bear arms forever.
Defendants charged with domestic violence may also face complications when attempting to go on probation, as the court may see them as a threat to the victim. Probation may be denied if they will be living with the victim or are thought to still be dangerous, and house arrest is often out of the question. Anyone convicted of a domestic violence offense must also undergo a treatment program with standards adopted by the domestic violence offender management board.