Colorado does not have a specific statute that defines “domestic violence” and you will not find a crime titled Domestic Violence anywhere in the Colorado criminal code. Instead, domestic violence is a broad term that is separated into categories of behavior that are inflicted upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. Colorado law defines an Intimate Relationship as “a relationship between spouses, former spouses, past or present unmarried couples, or persons who are both the parents of the same child regardless of whether the persons have been married or have lived together at any time.” Physical violence is just one type of domestic violence, and is not the only type of domestic violence that is against Colorado law. Below are a few different examples of domestic violence that do not involve any physical contact but still count as criminal behavior in our state.
Even if you have not hit or put your hands on the alleged victim, you still could face penalties for domestic violence. If you made a spouse or significant other feel like they were in danger of physical violence, you may still be charged. One common example is intimidation. Backing a person into a corner or breaking objects in the house can create a sense of danger and fear.
A threat of violence also counts as domestic violence in Colorado law. Threats include utterances, phone calls, or messages that express the intention to injure someone or cause bodily injury. Using threats repeatedly in order to gain control over another person is “psychological violence.” Threats are also referred to as “menacing.” Even if you make a “joke” and are not genuinely threatening someone, if it could be interpreted as threatening, you may be charged.
Colorado defines stalking as an occurrence when someone “repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, places under surveillance or makes any form of communication with another person or person’s family.” Stalking is also commonly tied to threats. Something important to note: this doesn’t have to involve physical stalking. Cyberstalking can also be considered domestic violence. Both stalking and menacing are class 5 felonies in Colorado. If convicted, you may face up to 18 months in prison and/or up to $100,000 in fines.
You should also know that Colorado is considered a mandatory arrest state. When law enforcement determines there is probable cause to believe that a crime or offense involving domestic violence has been committed, the officer must arrest the person suspected of its commission pursuant to Colorado law. Basically, if police are called then someone is going to jail. Once someone is arrested for domestic violence, a mandatory restraining order enters. That means that you cannot have contact with the named victim during the period of the restraining order. Third party contact counts, so the perpetrator cannot call the victim’s best friend and ask them to contact the victim. The mandatory restraining order can prohibit spouses from living together in the same residence while the case is pending, even if the victim begs the Court to permit the person to come home.
One of the biggest misconceptions about domestic violence cases is that the victim can simply “drop” the charges. However, Colorado law says that a prosecutor cannot drop domestic violence charges unless they believe it would be impossible to prove the case at trial. This policy means that the victim can plead with the DA to dismiss the case, but the DA isn’t allowed to do so. Just because you and your significant other made up and want the case dismissed does not mean that it will be.
These examples just begin to cover the many actions that could be interpreted as domestic violence. There are many different charges that could be considered domestic violence and they all have serious penalties. If convicted you face a restraining order, the loss of firearm rights, incarceration and a lengthy probation term.
Would you like to know more? Contact Jake Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 720.488.9586.