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Understanding The Domestic Violence Enhancer

What is DV Generally and When Is the Domestic Violence Enhancer UsedWoman on a couch with her head on her knees in stocking feet and with disheveled hair. Domestic Violence Enhancer. What you need to know about a DV enhancer and how it affects your case

In general, a Domestic Violence Enhancer is used to “tag” these types of crimes for special attention in Colorado. Whereas domestic violence as the term is commonly used refers to a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one person to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner or family member. There are previous posts on our blog on the cycle of power and control and other DV issues, since it’s often not a constant issue.

Some DV-type of behaviors may include physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological abuse, as well as financial or economic abuse. DV does not have to be physical abuse and it may include alienating friends/family and isolating the intimate partner as well as verbal abuse. There are many factors that can contribute to the occurrence and severity of domestic violence, including individual, relational, community, and societal factors. Other things can exacerbate domestic violence such as substance abuse, mental illness, social isolation, economic stress, and cultural norms that condone or excuse violence.

In Colorado, domestic violence is defined as an act or threatened act of violence against an individual who is or has been involved in an intimate relationship with the perpetrator. The term “intimate relationship” includes relationships between spouses, former spouses, unmarried couples, individuals who have a child in common, and individuals who are currently or were previously in a romantic or sexual relationship.

What is the Domestic Violence Enhancer

Under Colorado law, domestic violence is not a separate crime, but rather a sentence enhancer that can be added to other criminal offenses if they are committed as acts of domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Enhancer looks like a separate charge on a summons, and on a complaint and information will be spelled out in the caption, usually. This means that if a person is convicted of a criminal offense OF ANY SORT and it is classified as an act of domestic violence, the penalties and consequences for the offense may be enhanced, including mandatory protection orders, counseling or treatment requirements, and possible incarceration.

Some examples of domestic violence include hitting, punching, choking, slapping, kicking, sexual assault, stalking, harassment, intimidation, financial control, verbal abuse, and other controlling behavior. This means that a person involved in a slapping incident will likely have either harassment or assault charges in Colorado, and those charges will be labeled as “a crime of domestic violence” thereby triggering the additional DV penalties that come with the Domestic Violence Enhancer. They only have one count (for the assault) that will go to trial, but the judge will use the Domestic Violence Enhancer to put greater penalties in place. This type of charging scheme means that any crime (property damage, animal cruelty or neglect, or even virtual harassment) can be labeled with the Domestic Violence Enhancer if the crime was perpetrated on an intimate partner.

Can the DV Aggravator be Dismissed

A domestic violence sentence enhancer can be dismissed in Colorado if the underlying criminal charge is dismissed or if the prosecutor agrees to drop the domestic violence classification. However, it is important to note that the decision to dismiss a Domestic Violence Enhancer is at the discretion of the prosecutor and the court.

In some cases, a defense attorney may be able to argue that the evidence does not support a domestic violence classification, or that the classification was applied improperly. For example, if the alleged victim does not meet the definition of an intimate partner under Colorado law, the domestic violence classification may not be appropriate. Or, for example, if the mental state of the client was not trying to retaliate against the spouse / partner but merely for some other innocuous reason. If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense in Colorado, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can review your case and advise you on your legal options. Your attorney such as those at COLawTeam can help you understand the potential consequences of a domestic violence conviction and work to build a strong defense on your behalf.

It is also important to note that in some cases, a plea agreement may be reached that includes a dismissal or reduction of the domestic violence sentence enhancer. However, any plea agreement should be carefully reviewed and negotiated by an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure that it is in your best interests. Our attorneys are incredibly skilled negotiators here at COLawTeam, and we often represent those wrongly accused of crimes involving the Domestic Violence Enhancer.

Special Penalties for DV Enhanced Crimes

In Colorado, a domestic violence enhancer can result in special penalties for the offender. If a criminal offense is classified as an act of domestic violence, the offender may be subject to mandatory protection orders, counseling or treatment requirements, and possible incarceration for a longer period of time than for a non-DV charge. It is important to note that the specific penalties and consequences of a domestic violence sentence enhancer can vary depending on the circumstances of the case and the discretion of the court.

Under Colorado law, a mandatory protection order (MPO) is typically issued in cases involving domestic violence. An MPO can require the offender to stay away from the victim and any other individuals named in the order, to surrender any firearms, and to refrain from contacting the victim or other named individuals. This often means that those accused of DV are immediately kicked out of their shared homes and both the alleged victim and alleged offenders suffer financially. Violating an MPO can result in additional criminal charges and penalties, though, so it’s incredibly important that you discuss the terms and conditions of your MPO with a criminal defense attorney such as those at the COLawTeam today.

In addition to an MPO, an offender convicted of a domestic violence offense may be required to complete a domestic violence treatment program. The program typically includes individual and/or group therapy sessions aimed at helping the offender understand and address the underlying issues that led to the domestic violence behavior. Typically, this program can take 36+ weeks to complete. You may not be able to schedule more than one session a week, and there is homework between sessions.

If the offender is sentenced to probation, the court may impose additional conditions related to domestic violence. For example, the offender may be required to attend regular meetings with a probation officer, submit to drug and alcohol testing, and/or participate in community service.  Also, if the offender is convicted of a felony domestic violence offense, they may be prohibited from owning or possessing firearms under both state and federal law. Finally, if a person is convicted of 3 prior DV cases, and picks up a fourth (regardless of how minor) that fourth case becomes a felony by virtual of Colorado’s Habitual Domestic Violence statutes.

What Can I Do To Deal With a Domestic Violence Enhancer

If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense in Colorado, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advise you on your legal options and help you understand the potential consequences of a conviction as soon as possible. The attorneys at COLawTeam are standing by to help you get back in your home, have contact with your family again, and make sure that you are able to successfully navigate the court system, as well. Call us at 970-670-0738 today!

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