Are you accused of committing domestic violence in the Greater Denver Area or anywhere else in Colorado? If so, it’s important that you understand what you’re up against, especially if you were arrested by the police who came to your house on a 911 call. To shed light on the subject, I’m going to discuss 5 facts about domestic violence that you should know:
1. Domestic violence isn’t only physical abuse.
Under Section 18-6-800.3 C.R.S., domestic violence doesn’t have to be physical abuse, such as hitting, punching or kicking. The statute says, “‘Domestic violence’ also includes any other crime against a person, or against property, including an animal...when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge.”
If a husband intentionally injures his wife’s dog because he’s mad at his wife, the animal abuse would be considered domestic violence. Or, if a wife discovers that her husband is cheating and she takes a baseball bat to his Harley Davidson, that too would be domestic violence.
2. Colorado enforces mandatory arrest laws.
For other crimes, Colorado police officers generally have discretion when it comes to initiating an arrest. However, that’s NOT the case with domestic violence cases. Like many other states, when Colorado police officers go on a domestic violence call, they’re supposed to arrest the alleged abuser on the spot, even if the victim does not want them to.
3. It’s not up to the victim to drop charges.
Sometimes, a neighbor calls the police when they hear a domestic dispute and the abuser is arrested. Occasionally, the victim does not want their abuser to be arrested. Or, the victim calls 911, but they change their mind about pressing charges. Either way, it’s not up to the victim to drop charges in a domestic violence case; it’s up to the District Attorney to decide and this is the practice in other states as well.
4. A misdemeanor can be bumped to a felony.
Under 18-6-801(7)(a), if a defendant has a misdemeanor offense for domestic violence and they have been convicted of domestic violence on three or more separate occasions, it is a Class 5 felony. Thus, if the court finds the defendant to be a habitual domestic violence offender, he or she can be sentenced to up to 3 years in prison.
5. A domestic violence conviction will affect gun rights.
If someone is convicted of misdemeanor or felony domestic violence or they’re subject to an active protective order or restraining order, under state and federal law, they cannot possess a firearm.