Nearly every day, I hear horrific stories of domestic violence from my clients. Many women and even men (who frequently under report) are victims of domestic violence within their homes. Sadly, this can be either witnessed by children or even perpetrated upon the children and spouse both. These behaviors lead to physical injuries and deep lasting mental and emotional wounds. Understanding Colorado law regarding this unlawful abuse will be important in assisting those who have become the unfortunate victims simply due to their vulnerability.
Abuse is More Than Just Physical
Under Colorado law, any act or threatened act of physical abuse/violence will be considered domestic violence. Additionally, the state realizes that abuse is much more than just the physical and has included other criteria. Other forms of abuse such as emotional abuse is also considered valid if a person has been coerced, controlled, punished, or intimidated by an intimate partner.
For most cases, when law enforcement is called out for a potential crime, he or she has is able to exercise personal discretion on whether or not an arrest should be made. In the case of a domestic violence call, an arrest must be made by law if there is probable cause/evidence to suggest that legitimate abuse has occurred.
Once You Give Your Word, You Must Stick to It
Many times, once the immediate threat is over, a spouse will begin to feel remorse for calling the police on their partner. Particularly, in cases of abuse the perpetrator will often apologize and provide a sort of “honeymoon period” where the abused partner believes they are sorry and will not do it again. Colorado law anticipates this common phenomenon and does not allow a victim to later drop the charges. Once, accusations have been made, the DA will be the final say on whether the case is dismissed or proceeds depending upon the evidence rendered.
Three Strikes and You’re Out
While typically, those convicted of domestic violence will face a misdemeanor charge, in some circumstances this can be elevated to a felony. In situations where a person has become a repeat offender, meaning they have faced domestic violence charges three or more times, it is possible they will receive a harsher penalty of a class 5 felony. This charge may result in a prison sentence of 1-3 years.
Abuse a Partner, Lose Your Rights
Those convicted of domestic abuse will be subject to federal laws that prevent them from possessing firearms for life. If the domestic violence charge has been elevated to a felony, Colorado law dictates that possessing a firearm would also be considered a felony.