• What is a Domestic Violence?
  • What is a Protection Order?
  • What are common DV charges?
  • What are penalties for a Domestic Violence conviction?
  • What are your defenses?

What is a Domestic Violence?

According to CRS 18-6-800(3), Domestic Violence (DV) is not an independent crime. Instead, it is an enhancement tacked onto another offense in that case that the act or threatened of violence was committed against a person with whom the offender is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.

What is a Protection Order?

A restraining order in Colorado is a court-issued demand. While a DV defendant’s charges are pending they will have a protection order put in place restricting their contact to the victim in the case. Defendants may be hindered from returning home if they live with the accuser, may not consume alcohol, may be restricted from purchasing guns, and cannot text, call, or speak with the protected party. If a protection order is violated it is classified as a misdemeanor with penalties including fines and possible jail time (CRS 18-6-803.5).

What are common DV charges?

Although a DV enhancement can be applied to any criminal charge or municipal ordinance violation, these are a few crimes that will commonly include the DV enhancement.

1: Menacing (CRS 18-3-206)

2: Assault (CRS 18-3-202 – 204)

3: Harassment (CRS 18-9-111)

4: Child Abuse (CRS 18-6-401)

5: Unlawful Sexual Contact (CRS 18-3-404)

6: Stalking (CRS 18-3-602)

What are penalties for a Domestic Violence conviction?

The penalty will ultimately depend on the underlying charge since DV is just an enhancement, however, the enhancement does trigger a few additional consequences onto the received punishment.

  1. Mandatory Protection Order: this is put into place to separate the defendant and the accuser while the charges are pending. Some judges may extend the restraining order however if the defendant is convicted.
  2. Mandatory Arrest: because Colorado is a mandatory arrest state as soon as there is probable cause to suspect an individual of domestic violence the police must arrest that individual even if the alleged victim does not want to press charges.
  3. Domestic Violence Classes: a judge may also order a DV treatment program including DV classes for the defendants to compete.
  4. Habitual Domestic Violence Offender: if a defendant is convicted of his/her fourth charge with a DV label, the defendant is now a habitual domestic violence offender. This is a class 5 felony with penalties including mandatory jail time, parole, and fines.

What are your defenses?

When you are charged with a crime there are a multitude of criminal defenses you and your attorney have to work with. A criminal defense is an argument or strategy that attempts to challenge the prosecution’s evidence in your case. The prosecution must prove every element of your case beyond a reasonable doubt. These defenses are often how your attorney demonstrates that the prosecution cannot fulfill their burden of proof.

  1. Innocence: Perhaps your most simple defense in a criminal case is claiming you are innocent and did not commit the crimes you are charged with.
  2. Alternate Suspect: This defense not only claims that you are innocent of the charges but someone else was involved and is guilty of the crimes you have been wrongly charged with.
  3. Violations of your Constitutional Rights: This defense is centered-around the way Law enforcement collected the evidence in your case. If there was a violation it could warrant a dismissal of your entire case or at least suppression of evidence against you.
  4. Alibi: An alibi defense is one you, the defendant, must prove, this is also known as an affirmative defense. An alibi is referring to your where a-bouts at the time the crime was committed, meaning you were somewhere other than the scene of the crime and could not have committed it.
  5. Insanity: The insanity defense is another affirmative defense. If you plead insanity as a defense in your case, it could be dismissed on the basis that you were unable to distinguish between right or wrong or that you were unable to stop committing the crime because of unstable mental health.
  6. Self-defense / Defense-of-others: This defense may be used for crimes such as assault, battery, or murder in which the defendant used violence in response to violence coming from the victim, either in protection of themselves or others. Typically, to claim self-defense / defense-of-others, the defendant has to have used force that was reasonable or proportionate to that of the victim’s.
  7. Defense-of-property: Similar to self-defense and defense-of-others, the defendant used force against the victim in protection of their property. However, the amount of force used can never be lethal.
  8. Involuntary Intoxication: This defense is a lack of intent defense meaning that however the crime may have been committed, the defendant was intoxicated (either drugged by another person, taken a “laced” substance, etc) to a degree that they were unaware of what they were doing at the time the crime was committed.
  9. Voluntary Intoxication: Different from involuntary intoxication in terms of the defendant consumed a significant amount of drugs or alcohol intentionally, they may not have intended to commit the crime and the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that they intended upon committing the crime.
  10. Mistake of Law / Mistake of Fact: This defense is very uncommon but involves the defendant being unaware of a fundamental element of the crime they have been charged with.
  11. Duress or Coercion: In simple terms this defense means you were forced to commit the crime either by force or someone else threatening to use violence.
  12. Withdrawal: This defense can be raised when a defendant initially intended on committing the crime and then withdrew from participation and did not contribute to the successful completion of the crime.
  13. Necessity: This applied when the defendant committed the act to stop a more significant or worse outcome from occurring, such as stealing to feed the defendant’s starving family.
  14. Statute of Limitations: Sometimes, crimes have certain time frames in which the beginning of the criminal investigation and the time the prosecution follows through with consequences can occur. The statute of limitations may apply and prevent further prosecution if this time window closes.
Domestic ViolenceUnderstanding Domestic Violence Charges