The Lux Law Firm
Arrested? Accused of a domestic violence crime? Let me help you.
A domestic violence charge can have terrible consequences. From prison time to job and housing trouble, a conviction can impact your life in many ways. Even if your accuser changes their mind about pressing charges, Colorado law requires your continued prosecution.
Because this charge can have serious implications on your life, you must contact an attorney as soon as you are charged with domestic violence.
The truth is that no one can do this on their own. It takes years of study and practice to learn the law and then know how to implement it.
We have that experience. Our knowledge comes from the inside. Before moving into private practice, Austin spent years working as a prosecutor. During that time he appeared in front of dozens of judges, spoke to hundreds of jurors, and reviewed thousands of cases. After spending months out of each year in trial, he learned what it takes to win.
-If you are ready to stop the worry and uncertainty, schedule a free, non-committal consultation today.
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What Is Domestic Violence?
In Colorado, a domestic violence charge serves as a sentence enhancer for another crime against a spouse or partner. Colorado law defines domestic violence as violence or the threat of violence against an intimate partner. Acts of violence can include harming the victim’s property in an effort at coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge.
A domestic violence victim is an intimate partner or ex-intimate partner such as a spouse, girlfriend or boyfriend, or co-parent. A sexual relationship is not required to be designated an intimate partner in the domestic violence context.
Examples of Domestic Violence
A domestic violence charge can increase penalties when attached to another charge. Here are some instances that could lead to domestic violence and other criminal charges:
- Repeatedly calling or texting a dating partner,
- Slapping or pushing a spouse,
- Pointing a gun at a spouse,
- Damaging a partner’s property,
- Threatening a partner or a partner’s family member, and
- Stalking an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend.
In these scenarios, an offender might be charged with stalking, misdemeanor or felony assault, or criminal mischief in addition to the domestic violence charge.
What to Do If You’re Arrested
Colorado requires mandatory arrest for domestic violence. This means that if police have probable cause to believe you committed domestic violence, they will arrest you. Probable cause can be established by your intimate partner telling police that you hurt them. If an accuser makes a police report and then later changes their mind about pressing charges, police still must arrest you.
Cooperate with Police
If you are arrested for domestic violence, cooperate with the police but don’t volunteer any information. Police officers are required to remind you of your rights in a Miranda warning.
You should hear some version of the familiar words, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can be used against you in court. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.”
Ask for an Attorney
However, you must invoke your right to silence and your right to an attorney after this warning. Tell the officer that you don’t want to speak until your attorney is present. At that point, they must cease questioning you until your attorney gets there. Do not volunteer any information after you request a Colorado Springs domestic violence attorney.
Don’t Talk to Anyone
Also, don’t speak to anyone in your jail cell about your charge. You will probably spend at least one night in jail when you are arrested for domestic violence. Confidential communications in jail may be overheard by guards or undercover agents. Phone calls from jail are recorded and usually not protected. It’s best to keep communications with others away from any topic related to your domestic violence charge.
What Happens After You’re Charged with Domestic Violence?
When you are arrested for domestic violence, you should expect to go through most of these steps. Your attorney can advise you of each step in the criminal prosecution.
Arrest and Booking
First, you will be arrested and taken to the police station for booking. Booking includes taking your fingerprints and mugshot and obtaining identifying information from you.
Unless you are accused of an exceptionally violent crime, you will likely be released on bail. At your bond hearing, the court will set your bail based on the details of your charge and your likelihood of fleeing. The judge may require you to pay money or set other conditions for your release from jail.
Advisement of Charges and Entry of Plea
The court will advise you of the offense that they are investigating or charging you with. Domestic violence charges are on a “fast-track” in Colorado, meaning that defendants must enter a plea at their first court appearance. You can plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Don’t take a plea that could permanently impact your life without getting a Colorado Springs domestic violence attorney’s advice.
The fast-track process places pressure on a defendant to make decisions quickly, and it can feel overwhelming to someone unfamiliar with criminal prosecution. So it is crucial to retain an attorney immediately after your arrest.
Protective Order Entered Against You
After you are charged with domestic violence, the court will enter a protection order against you. The protection order will forbid you from having contact with your accuser. It will also prohibit you from possessing firearms, drugs, or alcohol. Violating a protective order could expose you to additional penalties, including two more years in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
Before trial and within certain felony offenses, you will have a preliminary hearing. At these hearings, you have the opportunity to change your plea from not guilty to guilty or no contest, resolving your case without a trial. At the preliminary hearing, the prosecutor must show that the State has enough evidence to bring your case to trial.
If you plead not guilty and your case proceeds to trial, you will have the opportunity to present evidence and call witnesses. You can testify in your defense if you want, but you can also stay silent. Most domestic violence cases are resolved through plea bargains before the case gets to trial, but an experienced attorney should be willing to take your case to trial if necessary.
At your sentencing hearing, you will receive the punishment for your domestic violence conviction, including the underlying crime. Your Colorado Springs domestic violence attorney will try to convince the judge that you deserve the minimum punishment available under the law. Listen carefully to the terms of your sentence and carefully comply.
How an Attorney Can Help
If you are charged with domestic violence, you need an attorney immediately. An attorney can help you in these ways.
Guide You in Police Questioning
An attorney can advise you during police questioning, alerting you to avoid incriminating yourself. Having your attorney present may also encourage officers to use less intimidating interrogation techniques.
Your attorney can gather evidence to support your version of events. Evidence might include video camera footage, photographs, witness interviews, and other relevant information. Your attorney will also review the evidence presented against you.
Advocate for Your Release
Your attorney will advocate for your release on bail, attempting to convince the court that you present little danger to others. Your attorney will ask the judge to set your bail at a reasonable rate and terms.
Communicate with Your Accuser
After someone accuses you of domestic violence, you won’t be allowed to communicate with them. Anything you say to your accuser may be used against you in court. Plus, talking to or contacting your accuser violates the term of the protective order and exposes you to additional penalties. If communications are necessary, your attorney will contact your accuser’s attorney, relieving you of the potential for further conflict with your accuser.
Fight for Child Visitation Rights
A domestic violence charge can negatively impact your relationship with your children. Your attorney will work to maintain your rights to see your children, attempting to persuade the court that you pose no danger to your children and deserve continued involvement in their lives.
Attempt to Get Your Charges Reduced or Dismissed
Your attorney will work to get your charges reduced or dismissed. While dismissal or acquittal is always the goal, reducing a domestic violence charge can spare you significant consequences.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Conviction
Domestic violence is a sentence enhancer that can bring additional penalties to many underlying charges.
Penalties for domestic violence include:
- A court-ordered domestic violence treatment program,
- A protective order forbidding contact with your accuser,
- Time in jail or prison, and
If you have a previous domestic violence conviction, additional domestic violence charges could increase penalties. A fourth domestic violence conviction earns the defendant classification as a habitual domestic violence offender. This designation is a class 5 felony, increasing penalties to up to three years in prison and up to a $100,000 fine.
Underlying Crime Penalties
Domestic violence penalties are in addition to those imposed on the underlying crime. For instance, if you hit your spouse, you could be charged with assault and domestic violence. In Colorado, you could receive up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000 for misdemeanor assault, plus additional penalties for the domestic violence sentence enhancement.
Other Consequences of a Conviction
There are other consequences associated with a domestic violence conviction. While you have a protective order against you, you cannot own a firearm. If you are convicted of a felony or violent misdemeanor, you will permanently lose the right to possess a gun.
A domestic violence conviction can trigger the deportation of a non-citizen. Finally, a domestic violence conviction becomes a permanent part of your criminal record, which can make it difficult to get a job or housing.
Domestic Violence Defenses
When you meet with a criminal defense attorney, you can work together to evaluate all possible defenses to the charge. Your attorney will try to identify a strategy to get your charge reduced or dismissed.
Here are some common domestic violence defenses:
- You acted in self-defense,
- The person was not your intimate partner or former intimate partner,
- It was an accident, or
- You were falsely accused.
Your attorney will try to attack both the domestic violence charge and the underlying charge. If the underlying charge is dismissed, the domestic violence charge will be dismissed as well.
Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney
You need an experienced criminal defense attorney to protect your freedom and your future. Attorney Austin M. Lux at The Lux Law Firm was a district attorney for years before going into private practice as a criminal defense attorney. During his time at the DA’s office, Austin participated in 50 jury trials. His extensive experience prosecuting means that he learned the policies and strategies prosecutors use against defendants. This insight allows Austin to provide you with a defense tailored to defeat your charge.
Austin’s experience also means that he isn’t afraid to take a case to trial, unlike inexperienced litigators who prefer to settle every case. If the prosecutor offers you an unfair plea deal, Austin will take your case to trial. To protect yourself from the severe consequences of a domestic violence charge, you must obtain an attorney soon after your arrest. Contact Austin at The Lux Law Firm to start your domestic violence defense today.