As we move into the month of February and Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, we at Colorado Lawyer Team are thinking about the impact that holidays can have on couples. Extra stress, expectation, and financial strain around the holidays can bring about challenges in intimate relationships. Sometimes, this dynamic results in behavior that can lead to domestic violence charges. While domestic violence doesn’t uniquely increase around Valentine’s Day compared to other holidays, we at COLawTeam do see an increase in domestic violence cases each year following the February day celebrating romance and love. That’s why now is a good time to learn more about Colorado’s domestic violence laws.
How Do Colorado’s Domestic Violence Laws Define Domestic Violence?
In Colorado, “domestic violence” is defined as an act (or threatened act) of violence against someone you are in (or have been in) an intimate relationship with. It also includes other types of crimes in addition to violent crimes if those crimes are committed with the intent to retaliate, control, harass, etc. the intimate partner.
So, what is considered an “intimate relationship” for purposes of domestic violence charges? Intimate relationships include current or past couples and spouses. Also, parents of a child or children are considered to be in an intimate relationship under the law even if those parents have never been married to or lived with each other.
Domestic violence is likely to be suspected when there is a pattern of controlling, coercive behavior including physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and financial abuse. Check out our previous article about recognizing domestic violence to learn more.
Penalties and Arrest Under Colorado’s Domestic Violence Laws
In Colorado, domestic violence is not charged as an offense on its own. Rather, it is added onto other offenses, such as harassment or assault, which are considered crimes in their own right. The underlying crime, such as harassment or assault, will determine the classification of the crime. The classification may be considered a misdemeanor or felony depending on the underlying crime. The presence of a domestic violence charge may serve as an aggravating factor or sentencing enhancer at the time of sentencing following a conviction.
Colorado is a mandatory arrest state. This means that if police have probable cause to believe a crime involving domestic violence has been committed, they must arrest the alleged offender immediately. This is true even if the alleged offender’s partner doesn’t want his or her partner to be arrested.
Once arrested, the alleged offender will remain in jail and can’t post bail until he or she appears before a judge and enters a plea (guilty or not guilty). Often, this court appearance can occur within a day or so of the arrest. But, if arrested at the end of the week or over the weekend, one can expect to be in jail for the whole weekend.
In addition to penalties, which can include jail time and fines, a domestic violence conviction can negatively affect many other areas of the convicted person’s life. For instance, the ability to obtain employment or a loan with a bank can be further complicated. Similarly, a domestic violence conviction can affect one’s ability to own a gun, successfully pursue citizenship, pursue or continue in military service, and maintain previously established parental rights. If you are facing domestic violence charges, it’s best to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney early who can help advocate for your rights.
Protection for Alleged Victims under Colorado’s Domestic Violence Laws
When someone is arrested for a crime involving suspected domestic violence, Colorado’s domestic violence laws require that a restraining order be issued to protect the alleged victim. This restraining order serves to prevent further contact between the individuals. If children or certain property are also at risk, a court may issue additional protective orders to protect the kids or property.
Other resources are available to help victims of domestic violence during such stressful and uncertain times. Among other things, the National Domestic Violence Hotline can help victims of domestic violence identify behavior that constitutes domestic violence, find local resources, and make a plan to stay safe. Reach the hotline by phone by calling 1-800-799-7233 or visit their website. Also, we’ve written about the cycle of violence involved in domestic violence, which you can learn more about here.
Need More Help?
If you are in need of criminal defense or family law help, consider reaching out to Colorado Lawyer Team for a free 30-minute consultation. Find more information at https://CoLawTeam.com or call 970.670.0378.
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