In Colorado more so than perhaps any other state, if you have been charged with a domestic violence-related charge, you need to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Domestic violence-related charges are quite serious and carry extremely severe life and career consequences. Colorado Springs domestic violence lawyer Patterson Weaver is dedicated to providing outstanding representation in domestic violence cases at an affordable price. Proudly serving Colorado Springs, Pueblo, and the surrounding areas, attorney Patterson Weaver has the experience and ability to help you get the best outcome possible.
- Domestic Violence Cases in Colorado
- What Exactly is Domestic Violence—Legally?
- Domestic Violence Laws in Colorado—Tying the Hands of Law Enforcement
- Domestic Violence Convictions—Enhanced Penalties
- Your Rights in Jeopardy—The Brady Bill, the Lautenberg Amendment, and Your 2nd Amendment Rights
In a well-intentioned attempt to protect victims of domestic violence (a noble goal to be sure) the Colorado Legislature has passed some of the most draconian domestic violence laws in the country.
Believe it or not, some of the common humorous scenes we see in our favorite romantic comedies qualify as domestic violence in Colorado, resulting in mandatory arrests and potential convictions that can alter people’s rights, families, lives, and careers. The scene of the pretty heroine slapping the handsome and rough-hewn hero on the cheek after the hero’s head turns to follow the scantily clad bar waitress? In Colorado, that’s domestic violence. She would be arrested. The scene of the unfortunate and ill-fated loving husband forcefully pushing his wife away from him after she venomously informs him that she had been cheating on him for the last ten years and that his kids are, in fact, not his kids. In Colorado, that’s domestic violence. He would be arrested.
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 ex-spouses the perfect tool to repeatedly have their ex’s 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.What Exactly is Domestic Violence—Legally?
While many people use the term domestic violence (DV) as if it was an actual charge in and of itself, it’s actually what attorney’s call a sentence enhancer. Nearly any charge can be found to be a domestic violence charge. 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, a defendant can be charged with Domestic Violence (DV) Assault 3. However, the actual charge is the Assault 3 (a Class 1 Misdemeanor). If in the course of proving the Assault 3, the prosecutor is also able to establish that the nature of the relationship between the parties qualified the incident as domestic violence under Colorado law, then additional and more severe penalties may attach to the charge.Domestic Violence Laws in Colorado—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 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 excellent outcomes.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.Your Rights in Jeopardy—The Brady Bill, the Lautenberg Amendment, and 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 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. Contact Domestic Violence Attorney Patterson Weaver today to schedule a free consultation and case review.
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