DV Basics: An Overview of Colorado's Domestic Violence Laws
Domestic Violence is not necessarily "violent".
“Domestic violence" is an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom you have been involved in an “intimate relationship." It also includes crimes against a partner’s property, when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge.
There does not have to be a current boyfriend/girlfriend or husband/wife relationship for there to be "domestic violence".
The key is that there is, or once was, an “intimate relationship"- a relationship between spouses, former spouses, past or present unmarried couples, or persons who are both parents of the same child.
If convicted, you will have to do treatment. The question is - how much?
After September 1, 2010, any individual sentenced for a domestic violence conviction will be required to complete either a Level A (low intensity), Level B (moderate intensity), or Level C (high intensity) track of treatment. This is a change from previous law, which imposed a requirement of 36 weeks of treatment across the board. Also, an individual may be permitted to do all or some of his treatment in individual, as opposed to group, sessions if his or her circumstance is deemed to constitute "special circumstances". Any individual who is in "severe denial" may also be placed in individual treatment. Level A and B would require an individual to attend meetings once a week, whereas Level C would require two meetings a week. An individual's level of treatment may be increased based on any perceived lack of progress.
An arrest must be made if domestic violence is alleged.
An arrest must be made if domestic violence is alleged by anyone calling 911, or is inferred by the police or dispatcher - whether or not the caller is involved in the alleged incident. Once thepolice arrive, one or both of the parties will be arrested.
If one of the parties seeks medical treatment after a domestic dispute, medical personnel are required to report the case to police.
Once reported, the other party in the dispute will be arrested.
During the pendency of a domestic violence case, it is a violation of federal law to purchase or be
in the possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon.
A mandatory protection order is imposed in all domestic violence cases, prohibiting the defendant from having any contact, direct or indirect, with the victim. From the time this protection order is imposed, it is a violation of federal law to purchase or be in the possession of a firearm or other dangerous weapon.
Federal law prohibits those convicted of a MCDV, or Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence, from possessing a firearm.
The federal law defining domestic violence is substantially different from Colorado’s. The Federal definition requires the use (or threatened use) of force. Misdemeanor property crimes such as criminal mischief don’t qualify and in that respect the Federal definition is narrower. But, the federal definition does include crimes against children, so a plea to misdemeanor child abuse, which would not be labeled as domestic violence in state court, could trigger a Federal firearm prohibition if the charge involves force or threatened force.
Pursuant to federal law whether there is a conviction is determined by the law of the State. A straight plea is definitely a conviction. A deferred is not a conviction after it has been completed and the guilty plea has been withdrawn as provided in the statute.
If you are not aU.S.citizen, a domestic violence conviction may result in deportation or your immigration status may otherwise be negatively impacted.
The victim does not have the ability to “drop the charges".
Once the police are called and a domestic violence arrest is made, the victim does not have any ability to “drop the charges" or to decide whether or not to "press charges". Rather, only the District Attorney’s office has discretion to dismiss the case.
The victim has the right to consult with the District Attorney before any offer is extended to the defendant, and also has the right to be consulted when bond is addressed.
Under the Victims Rights Act (VRA), the victim has the right to: be informed of all "critical stages" of the criminal justice process (victims must request notification, in writing, for post-sentencing critical stages); to be present at specified critical stages in the criminal justice process; to be informed about what steps can be taken if there is any intimidation or harassment by a person accused or convicted of a crime or any acting on that person's behalf; to be present and heard regarding bond reduction or modification, acceptance of a plea agreement, sentencing or modification of a sentence; to consult with the district attorney prior to any disposition of the case or before the case goes to trial and to be informed of the final disposition of the case; to be informed of the status of the case and any scheduling changes or cancellations, if known in advance; to prepare a victim impact statement and to be present and/or heard at the sentencing hearing.