Is Domestic Violence a Felony?
Many people are surprised to learn that in Colorado, domestic violence is not considered a standalone crime. Rather, it’s an enhancement added to other criminal offenses. This means that if you are charged with a crime and the prosecutor believes that domestic violence was involved, they can add on a domestic violence charge—and enhanced penalties. If you have been charged with a crime and are also facing a domestic violence enhancement, it’s important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.
What is Domestic Violence in Colorado?
In Colorado, domestic violence is not a crime in and of itself. Rather, it’s an enhancement added to other criminal offenses. The Colorado statute defines domestic violence as an act of violence, or the threat of an act of violence, upon someone who you are or have been involved with in an intimate relationship. This means that if you are charged with a crime and the prosecutor believes that domestic violence was a factor, they can tack on a domestic violence charge and the potential for increased penalties.
Given the heightened penalties associated with a domestic violence conviction, it’s important to understand what exactly the law considers to be domestic violence. Unfortunately, the Colorado statute is broad and encompasses a wide range of conduct. Essentially, any type of crime committed against a family or household member can be considered domestic violence. This includes (but is not limited to) crimes such as assault, sexual assault, harassment, stalking, kidnapping, and child abuse.
When is Domestic Violence a Felony in Colorado?
In Colorado, if you are charged with a domestic violence accompanied with any of the following offenses, you are being charged with a felony:
- First-degree assault
- Second-degree assault
- Child abuse
- Unlawful sexual contact
- False imprisonment
The penalties associated with a felony conviction are severe on their own; when the domestic violence enhancer is added, it increases them even further.
Consequences of Domestic Violence Enhancer in Colorado
In Colorado, law enforcement is required to arrest anyone when they have probable cause to believe that the person committed domestic violence. This is true even if the victim denies the abuse because Colorado is considered a mandatory arrest state. If arrested and convicted of a crime with a domestic violence enhancer, you will face the following consequences:
- A mandatory protection order will be issued upon your arrest. While this order is active, you must stay away from the victim. You are also not permitted to drink alcohol. If you violate the protective order, you could spend 364 days in jail and/or pay a fine of up to $1,000.
- Upon conviction, you will be required to complete a domestic violence treatment program.
- Upon conviction, the protection order may be extended.
Keep in mind that these penalties are in addition to the penalties of the underlying crime that you were arrested and convicted of.
If you have been charged with a crime and are also facing a domestic violence enhancement, it’s important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The consequences of a conviction can be severe, so you will want to make sure that you have knowledgeable legal representation on your side. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with a Colorado Springs domestic violence defense attorney.