Colorado Springs Domestic Violence Lawyer
Offering Thorough & Dedicated Legal Representation
Domestic violence cases come in all shapes and sizes. Some include actual violence and bodily injury; others involve threats of harm or simple harassment. Whether you have been accused of or charged with domestic violence, or you are a victim of domestic violence, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Domestic violence-related charges are serious and can have a devastating effect on your life and career. If you have children, the consequences can be more severe than you may have thought possible.
Colorado Domestic Violence Laws--No Laughing Matter
Colorado has some of the most draconian domestic violence laws in the country. To start, Colorado has a mandatory arrest policy whenever police officers have probable cause to believe that any offense took place between a former or current intimate couple. In short, if the police are called, someone is almost always going to jail for at least a night. Similarly, prosecutors are not allowed to dismiss domestic violence cases unless they can say in good faith to the Court that there is not even a prima facie case for the offense. In most situations, that is not possible for them to do. This means that prosecutors are forced to pursue cases even if the think the case is minor, or dumb, and that their resources could better be spent elsewhere.
Domestic violence offenders can face serious repercussions. Mandatory protection orders (also called a restraining order) will be imposed, meaning you may not be able to return home, contact your significant other, or communicate with your kids. While charges are pending, you may be required to give up any firearms in your possession; after a conviction, you may lose your Second Amendment rights permanently. Various government agencies, such as the Department of Human Services, can investigate whether there is emotional, physical, medical and/or educational neglect in your home, and can order both parties (the accused and the accuser) to attend parenting classes or meet other requirements. A judge may order you to stay away from certain places, prohibit you from using alcohol or drugs.
You need the best domestic violence attorney in Colorado Springs. The criminal defense lawyers at Patterson Weaver Law are dedicated to providing outstanding representation in domestic violence cases at reasonable rates. Proudly serving Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and the surrounding areas, the criminal defense team at Patterson Weaver Law has the experience and ability to help you get a favorable outcome in your case.
To schedule your free initial consultation, call (719) 215-8049 today.
What constitutes Domestic Violence in Colorado?
While many people use the term domestic violence (DV) as if it was an actual charge in and of itself, it’s actually what legal professionals call a sentence enhancer. That means that domestic violence charges can be added to any underlying charge, no matter whether a misdemeanor or felony, such as assault, harassment, child abuse, or stalking (to name but a few). According to Colorado Revised Statute 18-6-800.3 (1):
“’Domestic violence’ means an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. ’Domestic violence‘ also includes any other crime against a person, or against property, including an animal, or any municipal ordinance violation against a person, or against property, including an animal, when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.”
As an example of how this works in practice: say a defendant has been charged with Assault 3 (a Class 1 Misdemeanor). If in the course of proving the Assault 3, the prosecutor can also establish that the defendant and the alleged victim were in an "intimate relationship," then additional and more severe penalties may attach to the charge.
Believe it or not, some of the behavior you might see in a romantic comedy could easily qualify as domestic violence in Colorado. A lovestruck character who won't take no for an answer and keeps sending messages and gifts to his ex-girlfriend? That's harassment. Following your love interest while he goes on a date with someone you know isn't right for him? That's stalking. A couple pushing and shoving during an argument while the children are present? That's child abuse.
Colorado is renowned for its overly strict approach to anything even appearing to be ill-considered actions between people that have, at some point, been in an intimate relationship. While everyone would agree that there are good reasons for criminal laws designed to prevent or punish domestic-violence, the actual practical application of those laws ensnares a lot of good people in what could have been a simple family disagreement. These laws can also provide bitter former spouses the perfect tool to repeatedly have their exes arrested for even the most minor of alleged infractions. Unfortunately, there are many good and loving people in Colorado who have found themselves labeled as domestic abusers for all-time.
Bottom line, if you have been charged with a domestic violence-related charge, you need to consult with an experienced Colorado Springs domestic violence lawyer, such as Patterson Weaver, immediately.
Can You Expunge a Domestic Violence Charge in Colorado?
In Colorado, you can never have a domestic violence charge expunged nor sealed. The conviction remains on the record forever, no matter whether the case was a felony or misdemeanor, or whether the defendant was adjudged guilty through a trial or a plea agreement. But if the criminal charge gets dismissed, defendants can petition to get their arrest records sealed right away.
What if someone calls the police?
For good or bad, Colorado law requires law enforcement officers responding to a domestic violence call to arrest the "aggressor" regardless of whether or not the do – Tying the Hands of Law Enforcement
Defendants charged for and/or convicted of domestic violence-related charges have a much harder road than someone charged with the same offense but without the domestic violence enhancer. While in many parts of the country, the police prosecutors have significant discretion in handling domestic violence cases allowing them to use their judgment to do what they believe right, Colorado has laws tying the hands of law enforcement, forcing arrests and prosecutions even if the police or prosecutor does not believe it necessary.
First, under Colorado law, the police have to make an arrest anytime they investigate an incident and believe that there is probable cause that the incident involved domestic violence. The intended goal of this requirement is to make sure that the incident doesn’t continue to escalate after the police leave, putting the alleged victim in further danger. The actual result is that the police are forced to make many arrests for minor incidents that they would probably prefer to mediate and move on from if they had the choice.
Second, under Colorado law, prosecutors that are assigned such a case do not believe they are permitted to dismiss the case, or plead it down from domestic violence, unless they can in good faith as an officer of the court can stand before a judge and tell the court that they do not have any case for domestic violence. Therefore, the law ties prosecutors’ hands even in the silliest or most mundane of domestic violence allegations. Dented a refrigerator you own with your spouse in anger during a heated argument? In Colorado, you would be arrested.
If you find yourself charged with a domestic violence case in Colorado, you need to speak to a top domestic violence defense attorney in Colorado Springs such as Patterson Weaver as soon as possible. While the law is stacked against defendants in these cases, a skilled Colorado Springs domestic violence attorney can often help you navigate the legal system to resolve these cases with the best possible outcome.
Domestic Violence Convictions – Enhanced Penalties
The penalties for domestic violence convictions are elevated. If a defendant is not only arrested for domestic violence but also convicted, they will be required to complete a domestic violence evaluation. The evaluation looks at 1) an offender’s risk of reoffending, 2) the risk factors associated with criminal behavior, and 3) the cognitive-behavioral treatment and intervention appropriate to a defender’s learning style, motivation, and abilities in determining an appropriate treatment level. In the end, offenders are at least initially assigned to one of three tracks of treatment, ranging from mild to intensive. Depending on the treatment track assigned—the treatment can be extensive and burdensome.
While not legal penalties related to the case itself, domestic violence cases frequently arise out of troubled marriages, often with children. A domestic violence conviction can often adversely affect someone’s ability to get custody orders they believe are fair in divorce or allocation of parental responsibilities proceedings.
How Long Does a Domestic Violence Charge Stay on Your Record in Colorado?
A domestic violence charge will stay on your record for the rest of your life. Whether the offense was 25 years ago or last year, judges, prosecutors, and other individuals have access to your criminal history on the national computer maintained by the FBI - NCIC and the state computer system maintained by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation - CCIC. That is the status if it was a "conviction." If it was dismissed, you were found not guilty at trial, or dismissed after successfully completing a deferred judgment and sentence, then you might be able to seal the record.
Your Rights in Jeopardy –The Brady Bill, the Lautenberg Amendment & Your 2nd Amendment Rights
For many people, the real consequences of a conviction for a domestic violence-related charge often go beyond what the judge orders at sentencing. People with domestic violence-related convictions on their records cannot legally possess firearms under either the Brady Bill or the Lautenberg Amendment. Ever. Even people that obtain a deferred sentence to a domestic violence-related charge cannot legally possess a firearm during the active term of the deferred sentence.
For those that don’t care to possess firearms, this is not a problem. However, for sportsmen, members of the military, law enforcement, security officials, and many other categories of people, this can be devastating. While Patterson Weave Law, LLC cannot advise any client or potential client on matters of military law, every domestic violence attorney in Colorado Springs knows of many former clients that lost their military careers because otherwise good soldiers found themselves prohibited from possessing firearms.
If you are charged with a domestic violence-related charge, do not do anything without first consulting with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney. Experienced lawyers can help you understand the possible consequences you are facing and can help you navigate the legal system to get the best possible resolution to your situation. In fact, while the Colorado domestic violence laws are complex and tricky, in many cases an experienced domestic violence defense attorney can help a client navigate the system for a case dismissal.
Patterson Weaver Law, LLC serves El Paso County (Colorado Springs), Pueblo County (Pueblo), Teller County (Cripple Creek), Park County (Fairplay and Bailey), Elbert County (Kiowa), Fremont County (Canon City), and the surrounding areas. If you live outside of the Colorado Springs area, in many instances Patterson Weaver can come to you for the initial consultation.
Life happens. Let us help. Contact Patterson Weaver Law, LLC today to speak to our Colorado Springs domestic violence defense attorney.