Colorado Takes Domestic Violence Seriously. So Should You.
If there is one thing you need to know about facing Colorado domestic violence charges, it’s this: take it seriously. Colorado law and El Paso and Teller County prosecutors certainly do. A conviction for domestic violence, even if it is your first offense, can have potentially severe consequences with wide-ranging impacts on your future, your family, and your freedoms.
Plenty of Consequences Even Before Conviction
Even before a judge or jury contemplates your guilt or innocence, you may be in for a burdensome and upsetting ordeal. Colorado law is very detailed and clear about the process and procedures the responding Colorado Springs Police Officer must abide by when arriving on the scene of incidents involving alleged domestic violence. These procedures leave little discretion for law enforcement on the scene, even if the case against you appears to be weak.
Specifically, if responding officers determine that they have probable cause to believe you engaged in an act of domestic violence, they have no choice but to arrest you and take you to jail. An officer can base that “probable cause” on as little as an accusation, even if there is no other evidence that you did anything wrong.
After your arrest, El Paso and Teller County prosecutors decide if they will charge you with domestic violence. If you are charged, you will quickly discover that Colorado has a “no-drop” policy for domestic violence charges. This means that even if your spouse, significant other, or another accuser that you have an intimate relationship with asks prosecutors to drop the charges, the charges will not be dropped. The law does not and will not care that the two of you have kissed and made up.
In addition, a mandatory temporary restraining order will be filed against you in order to protect the alleged victim(s) and prevent any contact between you and them. The court may also issue other protective orders to protect alleged victims, such as granting temporary care and control of your children to your spouse or keeping you away from the family home.
First-Time Domestic Violence Penalties
Colorado allows prosecutors a certain amount of discretion as to whether they pursue domestic violence charges as misdemeanors or felonies. Which type of charge you will face depends on (1) the nature of the conduct involved, and (2) if you have any previous domestic violence convictions on your record. The potential penalties you face will hinge on which level of charge prosecutors bring against you.
For instance, while jail time is a possibility for a first-time misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, the typical penalty is 24 months of either supervised or unsupervised probation as well as mandatory domestic violence treatment. But don’t let the potential lack of jail time fool you, the probation terms will likely impose limits on your freedom of movement, require frequent check-ins and reporting, and place other burdens on your life during the probationary period. Community service and fines are also often imposed penalties for Colorado domestic violence convictions.
Your domestic violence conviction will also be part of your criminal record, which will be publicly available and could impede future employment, housing, and financial opportunities. Closer to home, your conviction can and likely will be used against you in any divorce proceedings and may threaten your rights to custody and visitation with your child(ren).
Additionally, the mandatory protection order issued at the time of your arrest will stay in place until you complete your sentence unless your attorney can have the order modified or withdrawn at the time of sentencing. This is one of the reasons why you need an experienced domestic violence defense attorney to represent you and your interests in court.
Subsequent Colorado Domestic Violence Charges and Felony Convictions
The consequences of a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence extend beyond the sentence imposed. If you face subsequent domestic violence charges, prosecutors will use your prior misdemeanor domestic violence convictions as a basis for charging you with a class 5 felony.
C.R.S. Section 18-6-801(7)(a) provides that a range of prior misdemeanor convictions can support a class 5 felony conviction if they were domestic violence-related. Specifically:
“Any misdemeanor offense that includes an act of domestic violence is a class 5 felony if the defendant at the time of sentencing has been previously convicted of three or more prior offenses that included an act of domestic violence and that were separately bought and tried and arising out of separate criminal episodes.”
This means that under Colorado law, El Paso County Prosecutors can present evidence that earlier convictions for such offenses as disturbing the peace or assault “included an act of domestic violence,” even if juries in those previous cases did not come to the same conclusion.
The penalties of receiving a class 5 felony conviction are one to three years in state prison, a fine of between $1,000 and $100,000, or both jail time and imposed fines.
Facing Colorado Domestic Violence Charges?
A Colorado domestic violence conviction can throw your life into utter turmoil. With so much at stake, your future depends upon hiring an experienced domestic violence attorney. James Newby Law will protect your rights and guide you through the criminal proceedings.