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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Boulder Domestic Violence Attorney

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE? 

Imagine any of these scenarios:

  • During a noisy argument with your spouse or partner, your neighbor calls the police.
  • You get pushed and you push back. Your spouse or partner grabs the phone and calls 911.
  • Your spouse or partner is angry.  They threaten to call the police. You grab the phone and hang up on the call.

In these examples, and a thousand others, you are likely to face a visit from law enforcement and a probable arrest for a domestic violence crime. If you’ve been arrested for domestic violence, it’s important to contact a Boulder domestic violence attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney will be able to inform you of your rights and help you 

IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE A CRIME IN COLORADO?

Under Colorado law, domestic violence is a “status crime.” This means that domestic violence is not actually a crime itself but a designation that attaches to any crime you are charged with where an act or threatened act of violence is alleged to have been directed towards a person with whom you are – or have been – involved in an intimate relationship. In our examples above:

  • Yelling at your spouse or partner can be charged as verbal harassment/domestic violence.
  • Touching your partner or spouse in a knowing or reckless manner which causes simple pain can be charged as third-degree assault and domestic violence.
  • Disrupting your partner or spouse from making a phone call can be charged as “obstruction of telephone” and domestic violence.

BROAD INTERPRETATION OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Domestic violence also includes any other crime against a person, property, or animals, or violations of a municipal ordinance when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom you are – or have been – involved in an intimate relationship.

In a Colorado domestic violence case, the term “intimate relationship” includes a relationship between spouses, former spouses, unmarried couples (past or present), or persons who are both the parents of the same child regardless of whether they have lived together at any time.

Domestic violence charges are not limited to heterosexual couples.  Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals also deal with domestic violence allegations. 

The attorneys at Mertes Law are skilled in providing an aggressive defense to all individuals.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM CHARGED WITH A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CRIME?

If you are charged with a crime carrying a domestic violence enhancement in Colorado, you will be arrested.  And while police officers have some leeway to evaluate situations where two participants are alleged to have committed domestic violence acts you will be arrested and taken to jail if an officer believes that he or she has probable cause.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES COMPLICATE BEING RELEASED ON BOND

Whether and when you can be released from jail after a domestic violence arrest is determined by the bonding policies and schedules in each of Colorado’s counties. In the Denver metro area, including Boulder County, you will be required to appear before a judge on a domestic violence arrest before you can be bonded out of jail. The delay in being released from jail is primarily tied to a mandatory protection order and policies that require a Judge to “explain the order” to you in court.  The delay in being released from jail also allows time to obtain the alleged victim’s input. It is important for you, and for those who are supporting you after an arrest, to call a domestic violence lawyer immediately to help you navigate the court system.

Because an alleged violation of a Court’s domestic violence protective order can result in both a new arrest and new criminal charge, it is important that you tell your domestic violence attorney about any special needs that you and your partner have (such as child care) so that appropriate opportunity for contact can be presented to the Court for consideration in the conditions of your bond.

In cases where you are convicted of domestic violence for felony stalking or habitual domestic violence as a result of a guilty plea or jury verdict, you will be denied bail from the time of plea or verdict until your sentencing.  

WHAT HAPPENS IF MY PARTNER OR SPOUSE ASKS FOR THE CHARGES TO BE DROPPED?

After years of watching police dramas on television and movies, it is a common misconception that an alleged victim chooses whether or not to “press charges.”  Under Colorado’s Constitution, crimes are deemed to have been committed against the peace and dignity of the People of the State of Colorado and not a named victim. And while it is true that under Colorado’s Constitution an alleged victim of domestic violence is legally entitled to provide input to prosecutors and the Court, your partner or spouse cannot stop a prosecution simply by asking for the charges to be “dropped.”

HOW DO YOU DEFEND AGAINST DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES?

Defending domestic violence cases presents many challenges. Oftentimes partners or spouses request that the mandatory protective order be lifted so that a partner can return home in order to parent or simply to begin healing the relationship through counseling and time together.  Lifting the protective order can become extremely difficult if prosecutors use the law to keep couples apart for leverage in plea bargaining, or when domestic violence treatment rules prohibit couples from counseling until an approved domestic violence program is completed (which could be nine months to a year later).

Your Mertes Law domestic violence attorneys will start with a strong initial push to thoroughly investigate all aspects of your case.  You will be directed to early therapeutic evaluations to establish a lack of dangerousness, which is often key evidence to present a judge to establish that a protective order is unnecessary.

Colorado law rigidly controls the type of plea bargains that domestic violence lawyers can negotiate to resolve a domestic violence case. In-home detention (a jail-sentence alternative) is not permitted in a domestic violence case if the victim lives in the same home. Any consideration of a probationary sentence for a person marked as a domestic violence offender requires the Court to consider the victim’s safety. Under Colorado law, prosecutors are only permitted to plea bargain away a domestic violence designation upon establishing that he or she could not prove a domestic violence case existed if the case were to go to trial.

Any person with three or more domestic violence-enhanced convictions can be charged with a Class 5 felony carrying a presumptive prison term of one to three years in the State penitentiary and a possible fine of $1,000 to $100,000.  

In Colorado if your domestic violence lawyer resolves your case by plea bargain or if you are convicted at trial, the Court is required to sentence you to a State-approved domestic violence treatment program. The Colorado Standards for domestic violence treatment feature three possible treatment tracks based on risk (designated tracks A,B, and C) and no longer identifies how long a course of treatment should last. Instead treatment completion is determined by risk and progress in treatment. 

State-approved providers for domestic violence counseling are few in number and are closely monitored by the Colorado Domestic Violence Offender Management Board: http://dcj.dvomb.state.co.us/

If you are convicted of a domestic violence act involving strangulation via use of hands, use of ligatures or constricting bands such as a phone cord, or of using a choke or sleep hold, domestic violence treatment providers are required to automatically place you in a higher category of treatment requirements: http://cdpsdocs.state.co.us/dvomb/WhatsNew/Strangulation.pdf

DO DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES IMPACT MY SECOND AMENDMENT RIGHTS?

Colorado law requires that anyone who is convicted of a domestic violence-related crime surrender any firearms or ammunition that they own. This is true even if the conviction is a deferred sentence (a contractual plea agreement that allows convictions to be withdrawn later if certain requirements are met).  Gun ownership rights are also now restricted by mandatory provisions if the Court issues a civil permanent protection order (PPO) and when a mandatory protection order is issued as a condition of bond in a domestic violence case. 

This means that you (or your domestic violence attorney) must provide the Court with proof – within 24 hours of a domestic violence bond release or domestic violence conviction – showing that you have transferred your firearms and ammunition in compliance with Colorado law governing private firearm transfers.  That is to say, any person that you would like to transfer your firearms to must pass a Colorado InstaCheck background check (although some police agencies have programs for storing firearms surrendered under the law).

Contact Our Boulder Domestic Violence Lawyers Today

Mertes Law | Boulder Domestic Violence AttorneyCall Mertes Law now for a free consultation on your domestic violence case. You owe it to yourself, and your family, to understand your rights and to be represented by qualified and experienced domestic violence attorneys who will fight for you. Call us today at 303-440-012, or fill out the contact form on this page to schedule a free consultation.  

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