Colorado’s Domestic Violence Laws

The State of Colorado defines “Domestic Violence” as an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. This also includes any other crime against a person, or against property, including an animal, or any municipal ordinance violation against a person, or against property, including an animal, when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.

Section 18-6-803.6 of the Colorado Revised Statutes – addressing duties of peace officers when responding to domestic violence calls –  states that law enforcement officers are not required to arrest either party involved in an alleged act of domestic violence when an officer determines there is no probable cause to believe that a crime or offense of domestic violence has been committed. However, in Colorado, when the police respond to a 911 call alleging domestic violence, there is a good chance that someone will be arrested and charged.

If you have been arrested for domestic violence, you have rights, and it is in your best interest to make sure that those rights are protected, and that the police officer(s) that arrested you acted properly under the law.

When evaluating a domestic violence complaint to determine whether a crime has been committed, an officer, under the law, is supposed to consider the following: any prior complaints of domestic violence; the relative severity of the injuries inflicted on each person; the likelihood of future injury to each person; and the possibility that one of the persons acted in self-defense.

Additionally, C.R.S. 18-6-803.6(4)(a) states that the arresting agency shall make reasonable efforts to collect and preserve any pertinent evidence until the time of final disposition of the matter, including but not limited to the following: any dispatch tape recording relating to the event; any on-scene video or audio tape recordings; any medical records of treatment of the alleged victim or the defendant; and any other relevant physical evidence or witness statements.

This is all very important, because there are serious legal consequences in Colorado for domestic violence. First and foremost, in addition to any sentence imposed upon a person for committing a crime in Colorado, for domestic violence cases, the offender shall also be ordered to complete a domestic violence treatment program and a treatment evaluation. These programs usually meet for weekly, can last for upwards of a year, and are not cheap.

Secondly, if a defendant is found to have committed a crime involving domestic violence, the court will order that person to refrain from possessing or purchasing any firearm or ammunition for the duration of the order, and relinquish any firearm or ammunition in the defendant’s subject to the defendant’s immediate possession or control. In short, if you are charged with a crime involving domestic violence, you will very likely be saying goodbye to your gun(s), for at least a while.

Finally, domestic violence charges trigger orders of protection for the alleged victim. These put the person charged with a domestic violence crime in a very tough spot, as a first violation of an order of protection is a class 2 misdemeanor. It can be very difficult not to violate the order, as the alleged offender and victim have an intimate relationship, will oftentimes have children together, and are used to being in frequent contact with one another. In order to violate, a person is required to have a “knowing” state of mind. Also, while many folks believe otherwise, consent of the victim is not an available defense for a violation of a protection order. Many people fall into this “trap”.

In short, there is a lot at play and at stake when someone is charged with a crime involving domestic violence. It is in the accused’s best interest to have a thorough investigation done into the facts of the case and how law enforcement acted, as a lot of rights are at stake. If you have been charged with domestic violence in the greater Denver Metro area, call the Attorneys of Highlands Ranch. We are experienced domestic violence attorneys who will make sure your case gets the attention it deserves.

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