Domestic violence has gone from something that wasn’t spoken of in society to a topic that often trends on local and national news. It is a serious offense, particularly here in Colorado, where the police must arrest you if they simply suspect you of domestic violence.
What many people don’t realize is that in Colorado, domestic violence is not a separate crime. The police cannot charge you with the offense of “domestic violence.” Instead, it is a sentencing enhancement that can increase the penalty if you are convicted of another crime, such as stalking or assault.
A domestic violence enhancement can apply to any criminal charge if this type of violence was used to coerce, punish, or control another person. In other words, if you committed a crime in a way that the prosecutor believes included an element of domestic violence, the enhancement may be applied.
The consequences of a domestic violence arrest in Colorado are incredibly serious, and include a mandatory protective order. That is why it is vital to hire an aggressive attorney who will fight for your rights — and stand up for you and against charges of domestic violence.
Based in Boulder, McCabe Law represents clients throughout Colorado, including Boulder Broomfield, Adams, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Larimer, Weld, and Denver Counties. Our firm offers highly skilled, compassionate legal representation — and the know-how to resolve your case positively. Contact our office today at 720-328-0739 or email us to schedule a consultation.
What Is Domestic Violence?
In Colorado, domestic violence is defined as an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the person is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. It also includes a number of other crimes when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation or revenge directed at that person. For example, if a person abuses an animal as a way of controlling their partner, that would be considered an act of domestic violence.
An intimate relationship includes a relationship between spouses, former spouses, unmarried couples, or people who share the same child. Anyone that you have dated seriously could be someone that you have an intimate relationship with, even if the relationship was not sexual. Roommates, co-workers, friends and acquaintances are not considered intimate relationships, unless they also fall into one of these categories.
Picture this: you’re furious at your ex-girlfriend, who recently broke up with you for another guy. You decide to key her car to get back at her. In this case, you could be arrested for domestic violence because it was a crime (property destruction) used as a method of revenge against a former intimate partner.
Take that same scenario, and change one fact: you’re angry at your neighbor because he plays loud music at night. You key his car. While you could be arrested for that crime, there won’t be a domestic violence enhancement because you were never in an intimate relationship with him.
What Happens If You Are Suspected of Domestic Violence in Colorado
Colorado takes domestic violence very seriously — so much so that if the police so much as suspect a person of committing domestic violence, they must arrest you. Even if the alleged victim does not want to press charges, the police are required to arrest a person suspected of domestic violence.
At the same time, another process starts: a mandatory protective order. This will be issued even if the victim in the case does not want a restraining order, or if the charge was false. And if the court finds that the facts of the case support a charge of domestic violence, the prosecutor will generally have to seek an enhancement, even if the victim refuses to cooperate.
As a consequence, if you are convicted of a crime involving domestic violence, the court can impose additional sanctions. These may include mandatory domestic violence treatment, a prohibition on owning a firearm, a restraining order, and being put on the Colorado restraining order registry.
If that wasn’t bad enough, if you have three prior convictions involving domestic violence, you will be deemed a habitual domestic violence offender — which is a class 5 felony under Colorado law. This means that there are additional penalties on top of what you may already receive, including 1 to 3 years of imprisonment plus 2 years of parole, and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000.
Protective Orders under Colorado Law
If you are even suspected of committing domestic violence, Colorado police will arrest you, and a court will issue a mandatory protective order. There is no discretion in issuing this order: if you are arrested on suspicion of an act of domestic violence, this order will be issued.
A domestic violence protective order (also referred to as a restraining order) will forbid you from harassing, molesting, intimidating, retaliating against, or tampering with any witness to or victim of the acts charged. This is all standard for any protective order.
In addition, the protective order will require you to stay away from the home of the alleged victim of witness — which can be a problem if you live with her or him — in addition to any other location where he or she is likely to be found. You must also refrain from any communication, direct or indirect, with the alleged victim or witness. The protective order will also bar you from possessing any firearms or other weapons, possessing or consuming any alcohol or controlled substances, and doing anything else that the court thinks is necessary to protect the alleged victim or witness.
For many people, these restrictions are challenging enough on their own. Then they learn that the protective order will be entered into a public database, the Colorado protective order registry. This can be embarrassing, as it is available online and searchable.
If you violate a protective order, you may be charged with a misdemeanor offense. It is punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. This means that even if you are not guilty of the underlying offense, you could be charged and convicted of a separate crime if you violate any of the conditions of the protective order (such as by drinking a beer on a hot day).
How a Boulder Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Can Help
Domestic violence is a problem in our society — but that doesn’t mean that every charge is true, or that people accused of domestic violence don’t deserve top-notch representation. There are a number of reasons why a person may be accused of domestic violence. An experienced Boulder domestic violence defense lawyer can help them have the charge dismissed — or get them the help that they need.
For nearly 20 years, attorney Janene K. McCabe has defended Coloradans accused of a range of clients. Her works includes time as a public defender, giving her the trial experience that few attorneys possess. She represents clients throughout Colorado, aggressively advocating for the best possible result in each and every case.
If you are facing a domestic violence enhancement or have been arrested on suspicion of domestic violence, McCabe Law is here for you. Contact our firm today at 720-328-0739 or online to schedule a consultation with a Boulder domestic violence defense lawyer.