Domestic Violence Laws in Colorado

Domestic violence is a matter that is taken very seriously in Colorado. If you are facing domestic violence charges, speak to a domestic violence and Denver family lawyer as soon as possible about your case. Note that there are many misconceptions about domestic violence, so it helps to learn more about how these charges work in Colorado.

One common myth about domestic violence is that you must be violent to face this charge. However, in Colorado, this offense means any threatened or actual act of violence toward a person that the accused has an intimate relationship with and other behaviors, such as an act of intimidation, punishment, coercion, control or revenge. For example, if a person destroys the personal items of his or her partner in a fit of anger, that can constitute domestic violence.

There are mandatory arrest laws

For many crimes, law enforcement has discretion an arrest is warranted and when and where to make the arrest in domestic violence cases, however, there is a mandatory arrest requirement. If police officers are called and they believe someone committed an act of domestic violence, the suspect must be arrested immediately. The arrested person is booked into the jail system and is not able to get a bond until the victim is given notice of the hearing.

Victims cannot drop charges

The person who initially reported the domestic violence cannot have the charges dropped, even if he or she only called the police because of anger over another issue, such as unpaid child support. Even though the person reporting is the victim, only the district attorney’s office can decide whether the case will go forward. Even a judge can’t dismiss a case unless there are very unusual circumstances involved.

These are “victims’ rights” cases

Under Colorado laws, some crimes are “victims’ rights” cases. Naturally, all domestic violence cases fall under this umbrella. It means the victim has several rights, including when the bond is addressed and the right to speak to the district attorney before he or she makes any offers to the accused. Domestic violence victims are entitled to speak at the sentencing hearing and receive notification if the accused is released from jail.

A misdemeanor charge can become a felony

A person who has been charged with and convicted of domestic violence three times in Colorado can find themselves facing a felony if they are charged with the act a fourth time, even if the charge would normally warrant a misdemeanor. At this point, Colorado considers that person a habitual domestic violence offender, and a fourth misdemeanor charge can be elevated to a Class 5 felony. This type of felony carries a sentence of one to three years in jail. The district attorney is required to notify the victim however the victim cannot stop the district attorney from doing so even if he or she does not want to pursue the case.

In addition, any person who is convicted of domestic violence in Colorado is not allowed to have a firearm. If the conviction of domestic violence is a felony, the laws in this state also then make it a felony for the convicted person to have a firearm, and these bans last the convicted person’s entire life. The convicted person will also have to complete a treatment program and evaluation, and even a lower-level misdemeanor conviction could mean a person has to take 36 weeks of classes.

 

What to do if you are arrested

If you are arrested for domestic violence, it’s recommended that you take your right to stay silent seriously. Saying something you believe will help your case could do the opposite and make the situation worse. Once you bond yourself out of jail, do not have any contact whatsoever with the victim. Do not email, call or text them. Until the restraining order that comes with domestic violence arrests expires, you could be charged with violating the order if you have any contact with the victim and find yourself back in jail. This remains true even if the victim is the person who is trying to contact you. As covered above, the victim cannot have the charges dropped or end the case, so you need to make sure you avoid any contact with them that could land you in even more trouble.

Whether your case involves domestic violence or another family law matter, it’s important to have an experienced attorney on your side to help you work through the family court system in Colorado. Contact The Burnham Law Firm about your case today.