Domestic violence in Colorado is not a separate crime, it is a sentence enhancer. You can’t be guilty of domestic violence unless you are guilty of some other crime. The enhancer applies to just about any crime committed against someone with whom you are (or were) in an intimate relationship. Contrary to the name, domestic violence does not have to involve a physical or “violent” crime. Basically, if the underlying criminal act (even if non-violent, non-physical) was done to coerce or intimidate this other person, that is enough to be charged domestic violence. Acts of harassment are commonly charged as acts of domestic violence, as are property crimes such as theft, trespass, or criminal mischief. Contact a Denver domestic violence defense lawyer.
Procedure & Protection Orders
In Colorado, when the sentence enhancer of domestic violence is charged, it changes the course of a case. First, it speeds the case up. Courts and DA’s want to process these cases quickly before additional violence (or reconciliation that affects their prosecution) occurs. Also, Colorado law mandates that a protection order issue in all domestic violence cases, and the judge will usually only (if at all) modify the protection order if the victim requests it. In the meantime, a defendant often has to vacate the shared home, and arrangements to share parenting can become very difficult. Some judges view the protection order as a nuisance in many cases, and are happy to modify it if parties desire it. Many judges view the protection order as providing a necessary cooling off period, but will modify it in time. Some will never modify a protection order. Providing for an earlier reunification of family, if desired, is something that a defense lawyer can help with.
Domestic Violence Sentencing
The domestic violence enhancer also greatly affects sentencing, as the law requires that anyone convicted undergo a domestic violence evaluation and treatment, almost always on supervised probation. In theory, the domestic violence evaluation is supposed to separate people who need no treatment or little treatment from people who need a whole lot of treatment, but the evaluators tend to order lengthy treatment for most people. The only ways to avoid domestic violence treatment are a dismissal, a rare non-DV plea, an acquittal at trial, or (undesirably) a lengthy jail sentence, which judges typically impose without any follow-up treatment. Note that the court may not sentence a defendant to in-home detention in a shared home with the victim. This makes probation and jail more likely. Note also that a domestic violence conviction may have serious career, immigration and gun ownership consequences.
When a crime is charged as an act of domestic violence, it raises the stakes and triggers these and other unique legal consequences. When charged with domestic violence, an experienced lawyer is a critical ally. Call a Denver criminal lawyer for a free consultation.
Call Matthew Hand to talk about your case: (303) 900-8480.