Talk to a Lawyer After a Domestic Violence Charge
Under state law, domestic violence is defined as, “. . . an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship . . .” It may also include acts of violence against that person’s property, including animals. An intimate relationship is defined under the law as, “. . . a relationship between spouses, former spouses, past or present unmarried couples, or persons who are both the parents of the same child regardless of whether the persons have been married or have lived together at any time.”
In Colorado, domestic violence is not usually charged a standalone offense, but tacked onto other criminal charges as an aggravator or sentence enhancer. Depending on the alleged circumstances, it may be added to misdemeanor or felony charges such as assault, harassment, menacing, sexual assault, or false imprisonment. Domestic cases move through the criminal justice system on a fast track. This means arresting officers must complete incident reports the same day and defendants must enter a plea at their first court appearance. Defendants may feel they are in the dark about what is occurring and may not fully understand the gravity of the charges.
Mandatory Arrest In Domestic Violence Cases
If the police get called out on a domestic violence matter and find probable cause that a confrontation involving domestic violence occurred, they are required to make an arrest. This is how minor domestic incidents can escalate into serious criminal charges. The case cannot be dismissed simply because the accuser does not want to press charges. The accused will be taken to jail and may be required to stay there overnight until bail is set by a judge.
Consequence of Domestic Violence Conviction
Upon conviction of domestic violence offenses, you may be subject to:
- A mandatory protection order limiting your contact with the accuser and any witnesses for the duration of the case and the sentence
- Domestic violence counseling and treatment
Multiple convictions lead to stiffer penalties. With three prior criminal convictions involving domestic violence, you can be labeled a habitual domestic violence offender. This is a Class 5 felony, carrying penalties of one to three years in prison and/or a fine of up to $100,000. A domestic violence conviction can also affect parental rights, employment opportunities, professional licensing, loan and housing opportunities, gun ownership, government employment, military service, and citizenship status.
Defenses Against Domestic Violence Charges
As domestic violence charges are tacked on as aggravators to other criminal charges, your defense must involve fighting the underlying charge. For example, if the underlying charge is assault, we may argue that:
- You were falsely accused by the alleged victim.
- You acted in self-defense.
- You were defending someone else (a child, for example).
- The incident was an accident.
- You have evidence that directly contradicts the accusations against you (for example, witness testimony).
- Evidence against you must be excluded from trial because proper procedures were not followed by the police (such as a failure to read your Miranda rights).
As a defense against the domestic violence sentence enhancer, your attorney may argue that you were never in an intimate relationship with the accuser (if the accuser falsely claimed that you were, or the police officer wrongfully assumed that you were).
At Welsh Law, LLC, we understand how stressful being arrested and charged with a crime can be. Our Colorado criminal defense attorneys can use our knowledge, skills, and resources to fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Call us at (720) 836-1777 to schedule a free consultation if you are facing domestic violence charges.