Colorado does not have domestic violence specific charges.
Instead, domestic violence operates as a sentencing enhancement or aggravator that is added to criminal offenses committed against current or former romantic partners.
Any criminal violation can receive a domestic violence sentencing enhancement, even crimes against property.
Common Crimes Associated with Domestic Violence
The crimes commonly seen with a domestic violence sentencing enhancement include:
- Child abuse,
- Criminal mischief,
- Elder abuse,
- Sexual assault, and
- False imprisonment.
Again, any criminal statute violation in Colorado involving intimate partners can receive a domestic violence enhancement, depending on the facts of the case.
How Does Colorado Domestic Violence Law Define Intimate Relationships?
An “intimate relationship” includes relationships between:
- Formerly or currently married spouses;
- Individuals who share children; and
- A former or current romantic partner.
Living together does not automatically place someone in one of the above categories.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Domestic Violence Charges in Colorado?
A statute of limitations provides the length of time the state has to prosecute the defendant on his or her charges. After the statute of limitations expires, the prosecution can no longer pursue those charges against you.
The statute of limitations for crimes including a domestic violence enhancement depends on the underlying crime you were charged with.
For felony crimes, the statute of limitations prohibits prosecution after a period of three years. For misdemeanor crimes, the statute of limitations prohibits prosecution after only 18 months.
If the statute of limitations expired in your domestic violence case, the criminal prosecution will not be able to proceed.
What Is a Protection Order?
Following a domestic violence related arrest, courts automatically issue a mandatory protection order (MPO). The MPO prohibits the arrestee from attempting to:
- Retaliate against, or
- Tamper with witnesses or the victim of the crime.
The judicial officer on the case can also include a no-contact order in the MPO, and an order to vacate any shared residence.
The no-contact order prohibits the defendant from trying to contact the victim of the crime, directly or indirectly. The MPO lasts through the duration of the criminal case. Violating an MPO constitutes a new criminal violation.
Violation of Protection Orders
A first-time violation of a protection order constitutes a class two misdemeanor, which carries potential penalties of up to 364 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. If you have previously violated a protection order, the violation constitutes a class one misdemeanor, which carries potential penalties of up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
To constitute “contact” in violation of the order, the defendant’s conduct must involve either physical touching or some element of direct or indirect communication or attempted communication with the victim. Incidental contact with the victim does not qualify as a violation of the protection order.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Enhancements in Colorado
In addition to the penalty for the underlying criminal violation, Colorado imposes penalties specific to defendants convicted of committing domestic violence.
First, the defendant must complete a treatment evaluation and treatment program that complies with the standards adopted by the domestic violence offender management board. The court can order the defendant to complete the treatment evaluation prior to sentencing.
Defendants facing domestic violence charges are prohibited from pleading guilty or no contest to any charges that do not include the domestic violence designation unless the prosecutor cannot prove that an intimate relationship exists between the defendant and the victim. Additionally, defendants are deemed ineligible for home detention at the victim’s home.
Individuals convicted and sentenced for criminal violations that involve domestic violence are required to relinquish any firearms or ammunition in his or her immediate possession or control and are prohibited under federal law from possessing or purchasing any firearms or ammunition.
Questions About Colorado Domestic Violence Statutes? Contact The Lux Law Firm Today
We believe that every individual charged with a criminal violation is entitled to an aggressive defense. Our founding attorney, Austin Lux, previously worked as a prosecutor, giving him insider knowledge of the state’s process for bringing charges against Colorado defendants.
Mr. Lux has extensive trial experience and has handled every type of criminal case you can think of. In January 2021, Mr. Lux was named one of Colorado’s Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers and one of the Top 40 Under 40 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyers.
If you are facing criminal charges in Colorado with a domestic violence enhancement, your freedom is at stake. The Lux Law Firm can ensure you have the best defense possible and negotiate to lessen your charges or have them dismissed altogether.
Contact our office today to start your free consultation.