Hebets & McCallin
Consequences of a Domestic Violence Charge
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 36.8 percent of Colorado women and 20.5 percent of Colorado men experience intimate partner physical violence. Approximately 233,000 Colorado women have been victims of stalking during their lifetimes.
Nationwide, according to the NCADV, one in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, and domestic violence hotlines receive on average 13 calls every minute or 19,159 in a day.
Domestic violence in Colorado is a broad category that does not necessarily involve any physical violence. In addition, police have to arrest without delay anyone suspected of domestic violence. They do not have to get a court order. If the victim who reports the alleged crime decides later to have the charges dropped, that is not an option. Only the prosecutors handling the case can drop a charge related to domestic violence.
In other words, being involved in a domestic violence situation has serious implications, both immediately and later, if the case goes to trial and you are found guilty.
If you have been arrested for or charged with a crime involving domestic violence in Denver, Colorado, or anywhere in the counties of Douglas, Arapahoe, Jefferson, or Adams, contact the attorneys at Hebets & McCallin immediately.
We will hear you out, investigate, weigh your options and work with you on a strong defensive strategy to obtain the best possible outcome.
What Is Domestic Violence in Colorado?
Domestic violence in Colorado is any crime or threat that “is used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship….”
An intimate relationship is further defined as "a relationship between spouses (married couples), formerly married couples, the past or present unmarried couples or persons who are both the parents of a child regardless whether they have been married in past or lived together anytime."
Objects include not only physical possessions but also pets belonging to the victim. If an intimate partner destroys the former or current partner’s smartphone, for instance, that can be charged with domestic violence. Harming or abducting a pet can also be charged.
In broad strokes, domestic violence in Colorado covers violence, attempted violence, threats of violence, stalking, harassment, revenge, or coercion. Coercion means forcing, threatening, or intimidating someone into doing something they do not wish to do or preventing them from doing something they have a right to do.
How Domestic Violence Is Charged in Colorado
In Colorado, domestic violence is an enhancement to another charge. Depending on the underlying charge, the crime can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. Felony charges that can be enhanced to domestic violence – thereby increasing the potential penalties – include:
- First-degree assault
- Second-degree assault
- Child abuse with serious injury
- Unlawful sexual contact if the act is coerced, threatened, intimidated, or drugged
- Menacing with a deadly weapon
- False imprisonment for more than 12 hours and done by threat or force
Crimes that likely will be charged as misdemeanors with a domestic violence enhancement include:
- Third-degree assault
- Child abuse if there are no or minor injuries and it is the first offense
- Unlawful sexual contact if there is no coercion or force
- Menacing without a deadly weapon
- False imprisonment for less than 12 hours; if there is no force or threats
Remember, the domestic violence enhancement applies only if the victim is a current or former intimate partner or if the property of a current or former partner is involved, including children.
Consequences of a Domestic Violence Arrest
Colorado is a mandatory arrest state when it comes to domestic violence. If the police have probable cause that you committed domestic violence, you will be immediately arrested, with no need for a court order.
Thereafter, you will be subject to a protective order preventing you from seeing the victim and from consuming alcohol. Finally, if you are convicted, in addition to any jail time or fines you face, you will be required to complete a domestic violence treatment program. The protective order can extend as well.
If convicted of a felony, you can lose your right to vote. Under federal law, if convicted of domestic violence, whether felony or misdemeanor, you can no longer obtain a gun license.
Defense for a Domestic Violence Charge
The first line of defense is to show that you and the other person were never intimate partners. This can get the domestic violence enhancement dropped, but the underlying charge will remain.
Defenses for the underlying charges can be that you acted in self-defense, that it was all an accident, or that you were falsely accused. Typical sources of evidence to help in your defense include surveillance video, medical records, expert testimony, eyewitness testimony, and police reports.
Remember, in a criminal case, prosecutors must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced defense attorney will challenge all evidence and all witnesses brought forth by the prosecution.
How a Knowledgeable Attorney Can Help
If you face criminal charges, the court is obliged to offer legal counsel in the person of a public defender. No matter how well trained or well-intentioned a public defender is, their caseload is generally going to be overwhelming. They will not have the time to develop a strong defense and will often opt for the first plea bargain they can obtain.
An experienced criminal defense attorney can work with you to establish a strategy to present your side of the incident and challenge any evidence submitted against you. Also, our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys can confer with the prosecution on getting the charges lowered before matters go to court.
If you have been arrested for a crime involving domestic violence in Denver, Douglas County, Arapahoe County, Jefferson County, and Adams County, Colorado, rely on the criminal defense attorneys at Hebets & McCallin.
Our attorneys have previous experience working for District Attorneys in Colorado, so they know how the prosecution goes about its business and can use that knowledge to help in your case.