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Non-Violent Acts of Domestic Violence and Colorado Law

By: Lain A. Lawrence - Domestic Violence Attoreny Dec. 6, 2022

ALMOST ANY CRIMINAL CHARGE IN THE STATE OF COLORADO CAN CONSTITUE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

The term domestic violence has a significant implication. The label of domestic abuser stirs up image. People image a partner coming home from work and committing acts of violence for little to no reason. The reality is that Colorado criminal defense attorney can be any crime. 

The crime does not even need to involve actual violence. That is because Colorado law has defined domestic violence in the broadest of ways. The legislature has taken the view that physical abusive behavior is cyclical. 

This means they believe minor infractions will lead to more serious offense. For that reason, the legislature has broadened the meaning of domestic violence in order to cast a large net. 

Domestic violence under Colorado law can include non-violent acts. Always speak with a domestic violence defense lawyer to understand your options.

WHAT IS MEANING OF DV UNDER COLORADO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW

It is important to remember that domestic violence is not a listed offense in Colorado. People always assume it is violence against women.

 There is no offense specifically referred to as domestic violence. Instead, it is listed as a sentence enhancer. The domestic violence tag can be applied to any criminal offense that meets the definition of domestic violence.

Domestic violence means an act or threatened act of violence. The act must be upon a person with whom the actor is involved in an intimate relationship. It also includes past intimate relationships.

Domestic violence also includes any other crime against a person or property. Property includes animals. Criminal offenses classified as municipal ordinance violations are included as acts of domestic violence.

It also includes any criminal offense used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, or intimidation. It also includes acts of revenge directed against an intimate partner.

WHAT IS AN INIMATE RELATIONSHIP

Intimate relationship means a relationship between spouses or former spouses. It also includes people who are both the parents of the same child. This is regardless of whether the persons have been married or have lived together at any time.

Intimate relationship is the first part of the definition. Intimate relationship must be a romantic attachment or shared parental status. A sexual relationship may be an indicator an intimate relationship, but it is not necessary.

Sex use to be the determinative factor, but the courts have provided more guidance on the matter. The reason a sexual relationship has been devalued is simple. If sex was the only factor, it could lead to some unrealistic outcomes. 

A religious couple saving their virginity for marriage would be held to not have an intimate relationship. However, college kids having a one-night stand could be found to have an intimate relationship. 

Colorado Courts have provided some guidance on the matter. A court may take into account certain factors:

1.      The length of time the relationship existed.

2.      The nature or type of the relationship; and,

3.      The frequency of interaction between the parties.

People v. Disher, 224 P.3d 254 (Colo. 2010).

WHAT KIND OF CRIMES CAN BE CLASSIFIED AS AN ACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

It is obvious, but violent crimes can always be considered acts of domestic violence. This would include crimes where violence is used, such as assault. It could also include acts of threatened violence, such a menacing.  It does not always have to includes physical violence.

Property crime can also rise to the level of domestic violence. This could include theft or criminal mischief. Criminal mischief is the intentional or reckless destruction of property of another. Property of another can include joint marital property.

The meaning broadens out when you consider the definitions of intimidation, harassment, control, or revenge. Literally any criminal offense could result in a charge of domestic abuse.

HOW DOES THE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ENHANCEMENT WORK UNDER COLORADO LAW?

A person found to have committed an act of domestic violence will face sentence enhancement. This could include increased jail. Typically, this means that a person will be required to completed domestic violence counseling and treatment. 

Depending on the facts of your case, it could be beneficial to start domestic violence treatment. Anger management could also help. It is always important to speak with a criminal defense attorney.

HOW DOES THE DEFINITION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IMPACT A COLORADO CRIMINAL DEFENSE CASE

First it is important to remember that domestic violence cases are handled differently by law enforcement. Police are typically required by their procedure to automatically arrest anyone suspected of a domestic violence offense. Given the broad definition, the police can classify potentially any argument as domestic violence in Colorado.

Second, the defendant will be arrested on a no bond warrant. Typically, a defendant will be permitted to post a bond as soon as they are arrested for a criminal offense. A no bond warrant means they must see a judge before bond is set. 

Typically, a defendant will be required to spend at least a night in jail before being granted a bond. If the crime happens on a weekend, a defendant could sit for the weekend.

Third, a defendant will be issued a mandatory protection order. These protection orders will require a defendant to stay away from the victim and vacate the residency. 

This would result in the defendant having to find another place to live. They would have to pay for two homes during the pendency of the case. Protection orders can be modified during, but it takes a skilled domestic violence lawyer to get this done.

Finally, a defendant could lose their gun rights. The Brady Handgun Prevention Act will prevent a person convicted of an act of domestic violence from owning or possessing firearms. This includes misdemeanor convictions that are designated as acts of domestic violence.

SPEAK WITH A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Because of the serious nature of domestic violence charges, it is important to have an aggressive and competent domestic violence attorney. As mentioned above, these types of cases could impact your gun rights or custody rights.

Our firm routinely represents individuals accused of criminal offense. We are open during regular business hours, but we will stay late or be available on weekends if necessary. Schedule a free consultation.

We are ready, willing and able to discuss your case with you. Our firm defends against domestic violence charges on a regular basis. We handle cases in Denver, Aurora, Arapahoe County, Adams County or any court in the State of Colorado.

Contact our criminal defense lawyer today.