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Common Questions About Domestic Violence Laws in Colorado

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18 August, 2022

In Colorado, charges of domestic violence are frequent, and even when they are made in the heat of the moment without any threats of violence, these claims cannot be refuted either on the spot or in court. When domestic abuse is reported to the police in Colorado, the prosecutor and law enforcement are solely responsible for handling the case.

The most frequently asked questions concerning domestic violence accusations in Colorado are addressed in this handbook. It is highly advised that you seek the assistance of criminal defense attorneys like those at Steven J. Pisani, LLC if you or a loved one is facing a domestic violence accusation and related criminal charges in Colorado.

FAQs About Domestic Violence Laws in Colorado

How does the state of Colorado define domestic violence in law?

Domestic violence is defined under the Colorado Revised Statute as an act or threat of violence against a person with whom the actor is or has been in a close relationship. Along with physical assault, domestic violence may also involve verbal or emotional abuse. The definition of domestic violence in Colorado is very inclusive.

 For instance, intimate partners do not need to live together or be married in order to file a domestic abuse case. Spouses, ex-spouses, domestic partners, children, boyfriends, girlfriends, and roommates all qualify as domestic or intimate relationships.

Physical, mental, and verbal abuse as well as sexual assault all fall under the category of domestic violence. Any other offense committed against a person or their property that is used to force, control, punish, frighten, or take revenge against a current or past intimate partner also qualifies as domestic violence.

What are the penalties in Colorado for a conviction of domestic violence?

Domestic abuse is not treated as a distinct crime from the initial violent incident. If a person is found guilty of a crime and the court determines that domestic violence was a factor in the crime, the court will sentence the defendant for the charge while simultaneously requiring that he or she complete a program for treating domestic violence and undergo a treatment evaluation.

If the court feels that an assessment would help it decide on a suitable punishment, it may also order that a guilty defendant be assessed before being sentenced. A person condemned to jail for a crime involving domestic violence is not required to finish a treatment program.

When convicted of a new domestic violence charge that would normally be a misdemeanor, a defendant who has three prior convictions for offenses involving domestic violence is subject to harsher punishments. The prosecutor may ask the court to label the defendant a habitual perpetrator of domestic violence. In addition, the new violation carries a potential four-year jail sentence and is penalized as a Class Five felony rather than a misdemeanor. This violation can also result in fines up to $100,000.

What are the most common domestic violence charges that occur in Colorado?

The most frequent domestic violence offenses in the state of Colorado (and the majority of the nation) are assault, sexual assault, stalking, abuse of children/minors, harassment, intimidating behavior, abuse of the elderly, inappropriate sexual contact, kidnapping or false imprisonment, and breaking a court-ordered restraining or protection order.

Are Colorado police obliged to arrest an individual for probable cause in the context of domestic violence?

When law enforcement has reason to think that a crime involving domestic abuse occurred, Colorado has a legal policy in place requiring them to make an arrest.

Regrettably, the difficulty of establishing probable cause immediately leads law enforcement officials to initiate an arrest even when no crime has been committed. In Colorado, police look at five factors—intimidation, coercion, control, punishment, and retaliation—to decide if there is probable cause for a domestic violence arrest. Law enforcement officials are required to conduct an arrest if they have even the slightest suspicion that any of these signs are present.

Do domestic violence charges always come with a protection order?

Yes, a protective order is always required in Colorado after a domestic violence charge. The defendant is not allowed to drink alcohol and must stay away from the accuser while the injunction is in effect. In a court of law, disobeying a protection order (also known as CRS 18-6-803.5) is a class 1 misdemeanor. A first-time offender faces up to 364 days in prison and a $1,000 fine.

A civil protection order can be issued by any municipal, county, district, juvenile, or probate court to stop domestic violence. A defendant may be prohibited by protective orders from injuring, threatening, or interacting in any way with the protected person or individuals. Any further orders, such as excluding the defendant from the family home or granting temporary custody of small children, may be made by the court in order to safeguard the public. 

Under an additional category of restraining orders known as “extreme risk protection orders,” Colorado law also requires gun owners who face a high danger of gun violence to give up their weapons.

Can domestic violence cases be expedited?

Yes. In Colorado, cases of domestic abuse are handled quickly. This implies that the offender takes an initial plea during the first court hearing and that the police write out a police report the same day as the arrest. It is common for several weeks to pass between the arrest and the arraignment in non-domestic violence cases. 

Fast-tracking domestic violence cases aims to protect victims from abusive or violent behavior as quickly as feasible while also getting perpetrators treatment.

If a victim of domestic violence recants their accusation, will the charge be dismissed?

No. Certainly not straight away. Police have reason to suspect that purported victims who retract their claims of intimate partner violence. They presume that victims have hidden agendas, such as pressure from the defendant’s family to retract their account or a desire for the defendant to be released from custody so they may support their family financially. Additionally, despite the victim’s denials, prosecutors could have enough proof that domestic abuse took place. For instance, it’s possible that the claimed domestic violence event was recorded on camera.

Domestic abuse cases are treated severely by the courts. Only when the prosecution swears under oath that there is insufficient evidence to establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt will a court throw out a domestic violence case. Therefore, prosecutors may decide to abandon the case before trial for lack of evidence if the victim persists in retracting and the only proof of domestic abuse is the victim’s first complaint.

The Criminal Defense Lawyers at Steven J. Pisani, LLC Can Help You Out of a False Domestic Violence Case

Domestic abuse charges are one of the most frequent situations we handle at the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC. Colorado police arrive at the location as soon as a roommate, family member, or romantic partner dials 911. 

Police arrive, separate the participants, and collect statements while searching for tangible evidence. Then, recordings and evidence are offered as evidence. Police sometimes prosecute the incorrect individual or make a mistaken arrest because they seldom witness the domestic disturbance taking place and are instead left with conflicting testimonies.

The criminal defense lawyers at Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC understand how complicated and messy domestic violence accusations can be. 

That’s why we offer excellent and experienced criminal defense in domestic violence cases in the Colorado court system. Schedule a consultation with us today by calling 303-635-6768 to learn more about how we can help you with your domestic violence case.

How was our guide to common Colorado domestic violence law questions? Tell us your thoughts in the comments. If you’ve been accused of domestic violence in Colorado, our talented criminal defense lawyers at Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC are here to help. Get in touch with our team today.

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