Acts That Can Result in Domestic Violence Charges in Colorado
Many people mistakenly believe that domestic violence charges can be filed only if someone was physically violent to an intimate partner. In Colorado, domestic violence charges may be filed against anyone who:
- acts in a physically violent manner toward someone with whom he or she has an intimate relationship, or
- threatens an act of violence against someone with whom he or she has an intimate relationship.
Under Colorado law, “intimate relationship” means a relationship between any of the following groups:
- current or former spouses,
- current or former unmarried couples, and
- parents of the same child, regardless of whether the parents ever married or lived together.
Domestic violence charges can also be filed against anyone who commits a crime against an intimate partner as a means of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge. This means that a husband who breaks his wife’s laptop in anger after she receives an email from her ex-boyfriend may be charged with domestic violence, even if he does so while she is not present in their home. This provision of the Colorado criminal code results in domestic violence charges being filed against many people who were unaware that they were committing a crime.
Colorado Has Mandatory Arrest Laws for Domestic Violence
When police officers are called out to a residence or other location and have probable cause to believe that an act of domestic violence has been committed, the suspect of the crime must be arrested. According to Colorado law, they must do so “without undue delay,” which means that they must arrest the suspect immediately if he or she is at the scene. The arrested person will be booked into jail and he or she will not be given a bond until the victim of the alleged act of domestic violence has been informed of the bond hearing and given a right to be heard.
The State of Colorado, Not the Victim, Decides Whether to Press Charges
Many people think that the victim decides whether or not to pursue criminal charges against their alleged abuser. This is not the case. Only the state of Colorado decides, by way of the appropriate county district attorney’s office, whether or not the alleged abuser will be charged with domestic violence. The state ultimately decides whether or not to drop the case. Except for in highly unusual circumstances, the judge does not have discretion to dismiss a domestic violence case.
Previous Domestic Violence Charges Can Affect Your Case
If you have been convicted three or more times of acts of domestic violence, you may be considered a habitual domestic violence offender under Colorado law. This means that if you are convicted of a domestic violence offense that would otherwise be a misdemeanor, the misdemeanor may be elevated to a class 5 felony. A class 5 felony carries a maximum sentence of four years imprisonment.
A Colorado Domestic Violence Conviction Will Affect Your Gun Rights
Federal law strictly prohibits anyone convicted of a domestic violence charge from owning or possessing a firearm. If you are convicted of a felony domestic violence charge in Colorado, state law makes it a felony to possess a firearm. For anyone who is required to carry a gun as part of their job (including police officers, security professionals, and members of the military), losing the right to possess a firearm can have devastating career consequences.
If you have any questions about domestic violence, contact my office where there is no charge for the initial consultation.