What are the domestic violence laws in Colorado?
C.R.S. 18-6-800.3 defines domestic violence in Colorado as “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 laws in Colorado aren’t just limited to acts of physical violence between two people in an intimate relationship. Colorado law states that domestic violence also includes crimes against a person, property or animal when used as a method of coercion, punishment, control, revenge or intimidation “against a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.”
This means that the actor doesn’t necessarily have to directly commit an act of violence against the victim — threats or acts of violence against the victim’s family, friends, pets or property also fall under the category of domestic violence.
Domestic violence laws in Colorado state that if a peace officer “determines that there is probable cause to believe that a crime or offense involving domestic violence, has been committed, the officer shall, without undue delay, arrest the person suspected of its commission … and charge the person with the appropriate crime or offense.”
Determining domestic violence in Colorado
When determining whether a domestic violence crime has been committed by one or more persons, the officer shall consider the following:
- Any prior complaints of domestic violence;
- The relative severity of the injuries inflicted on each person;
- The likelihood of future injury to each person; and
- The possibility that one of the persons acted in self-defense.
If the peace officer determines there is no probable cause of domestic violence, s/he is not required to arrest either party. However, not making an arrest is rare, as law enforcement tends to err on the side of caution in instances of alleged domestic violence. Therefore, law enforcement will almost always make an arrest if they are called into a domestic violence situation.
Domestic violence laws in Colorado apply to those involved or previously involved in intimate relationships. That being said, it’s important to note that an intimate relationship doesn’t have to be sexual in nature. Under Colorado law, an intimate relationship is defined 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.”
When determining whether a relationship is an “intimate relationship”, a court may take into account the following three factors:
(1) The length of time the relationship has existed or did exist;
(2) The nature or type of the relationship; and
(3) The frequency of interaction between the parties. People v. Disher, 224 P.3d 254 (Colo. 2010).
What happens when I am charged with domestic violence in Colorado?
The Court can impose “reasonable terms” associated with your bond, which include:
- No contact with the victim or victim’s family (even if it’s your own).
- You cannot return to your house.
- You cannot see your own children.
- You may be subject to an alcohol sensor (you cannot consume alcohol while you are out on bond).
- You may be randomly tested for drugs and alcohol at your expense.
- Your probation officer can come to your home or place of work at any time, unannounced.
- Your probation officer can come to your home and search it at any time, unannounced.
- You may be ordered to quit your job.
- No possession of a weapon while your case is pending.
- They may put you on a State list just for being charged – make sure you know how to timely protect your rights to avoid this.
- You may be ordered to wear a GPS ankle bracelet until case is concluded.
In addition, the state recently passed a law that forbids those who have been charged with domestic violence from owning a gun.
These little details are very important. Some people react to a situation in the heat of the moment and don’t even realize they are committing an act of domestic violence until it is too late and charges have been filed.
Protect yourself and your loved ones by understanding the rules that govern domestic violence charges. You don’t want to be charged with domestic violence. If you are, contact an experienced attorney right away.
Note: This article is not a substitute for legal advice. Contact us to get your unique situation evaluated.
By Shannon Lynch