Domestic violence is a serious crime. It can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions that impact the other partner in a relationship. In Colorado, any act of domestic violence is certainly a serious crime that can lead to a variety of consequences, but is domestic violence a felony charge?
Domestic violence includes a broad range of acts, and whether it is considered a felony in Colorado will depend on the specific activity. If you’re battling a domestic violence case, read on to learn when a domestic violence charge can be considered a felony in the state of Colorado.
Consequences of Domestic Violence in Colorado
In the state of Colorado, an arrest is mandatory if the police have probable cause to believe someone has committed an act of domestic violence. Even if the victim has denied they were abused or recants their claim, an arrest must still be made.
In addition to this, a domestic violence charge requires that a protection order be issued against the defendant. For as long as the restraining order is active, the defendant must stay away from the victim,abstain from alcohol, relinquish all firearms and ammunition, and stay away from any location where the victim could be Any defendant that violates the protection order will face a misdemeanor that may include up to a $5,000 fine and 18 months of jail time.
If a defendant has been charged with enhancer of domestic violence, they will face penalties based on the type of crime that was committed. The following may also occur:
- The defendant may be mandated to complete a domestic violence treatment program.
- There may be an extension to the restraining order.
Is a Domestic Violence Charge a Felony in Colorado?
It’s important to note that in the state of Colorado, domestic violence is not its own criminal offense. It is instead treated as an enhancement, which means it increases the penalties for any underlying crimes where the accused partner and the victim are (or were) in an intimate relationship.
With that said, whether the domestic violence charge will result in a felony depends on the crime that was committed. Let’s take a detailed look at the difference between a domestic violence misdemeanor and a felony charge in Colorado.
Common Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Charges
There are six commonly seen domestic-violence-related misdemeanors in the state of Colorado, however it is important to know that any crime can have the domestic violence enhancement added to it if the facts support such a charge:
- False imprisonment: In the case where the imprisonment lasted less than 12 hours or if the defendant used no force or threats to confine the individual
- Menacing: In the case that there was no deadly weapon involved or any representation of a deadly weapon
- Unlawful sexual contact: In the case that the victim was not forced to submit to sexual contact
- Child abuse: In the case that there were minor or no injuries to the child, and the defendant has no prior convictions
- Harassment: Including any acts that are considered harassment as per Colorado law CRS §18-9-111
- Third-degree assault: Including any acts that are considered third-degree assault as per Colorado law CRS §18-3-204
Common Domestic Violence Felony Charges
There are seven commonly seen domestic-violence-related crimes that are considered a felony in the state of Colorado, but again, any felony crime can be labeled with the domestic violence enhancement if the facts warrant it:
- False imprisonment: In the case where the defendant used threats or force to confine a person and the detainment lasted longer than 12 hours
- Menacing: In the case where the defendant used a deadly weapon or the defendant showed that they were armed with a deadly weapon
- Unlawful sexual contact: In the case where the victim was compelled to submit to sexual contact with the defendant due to threats, intimidation, force, or through being drugged
- Child abuse: In the case where there was a serious injury caused to a child or the defendant has had prior convictions
- Stalking: Including any form of stalking according to Colorado law CRS 18-3-602
- Second-degree assault: Including any acts that are considered second-degree assault as per Colorado law CRS §18-3-602
- First-degree assault: Including any acts that are considered first-degree assault as per Colorado law §18-3-202
Is It Possible to Fight a Domestic Violence Enhancement Charge in Colorado?
While the police are required to arrest any person that they believe has committed an act of domestic violence, defendants have an opportunity to get their enhancement dropped. It’s important to note that even if a domestic violence enhancement charge is dropped, the defendant will still get charged accordingly for whatever underlying crime is committed. Evidence that may help to disprove an allegeation of domestic violence includes:
- Surveillance video
- Medical records
- Eyewitness testimony
- Expert testimony
- Law enforcement police reports
Even if you still get charged with the crime, there’s an opportunity to get your case dropped if the crime was committed in self-defense, the situation was an accident, or the victim falsely accused you.
If you’re facing a domestic violence charge, it’s important to hire a Colorado domestic violence attorney who can help you understand your case and what it means for you, as well as strengthen your defense to help you reduce your charges or get them dismissed. Contact our office for a free consultation today.