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Trusted Denver Domestic Violence Lawyer Serving Greater Colorado

Domestic violence cases move fast in Colorado. Driven by fast-track policies and mandatory arrest requirements, cases can quickly get out of control once police get called in to deal with a disturbance. It’s hard for either party to stop or even slow down the case. If you are facing a charge related to a domestic disturbance, one that can be linked to domestic violence, you need to get representation, and you need to get it quickly, before you are saddled with burdens, restrictions, and penalties in advance of your trial, let alone what will happen if you’re found guilty. 

Denver domestic violence attorney M. Colin Bresee stands ready to help. He can jump into action and provide you immediate guidance that can help you avoid pretrial restrictions and long-term consequences of being charged in this context. As a lawyer who has worked both sides of domestic violence cases (as a prosecutor and as a criminal defense lawyer) in Colorado, Mr. Bresee understands what immediate actions can make the biggest difference in your outcomes. Please call  today for a free consultation at our Denver, CO office on the details of your case. 

Get the Best Possible Outcome

Even a skilled domestic violence lawyer like Mr. Bresee can’t guarantee a particular outcome in your case. However, we can guarantee that if you don’t work quickly and you don’t work with a knowledgeable lawyer, you will experience far worse outcomes.

Because domestic violence cases often involve imminent danger to one or more people, the court will fast-track them to protect potential victims. Plus, the court takes control of domestic violence cases since accusers sometimes don’t pursue cases because they want to get back to normal or are intimidated by or in love with an abuser. 

Mr. Bresee knows how to hit the ground running and act immediately on your behalf. He knows how to manage your case to make the most of opportunities. There are steps you can take to protect yourself from the worst consequences, even if you can’t avoid all the consequences. 

Schedule a Free Consultation

No matter what time of day, our office is ready to take your call. As a leading domestic violence lawyer in Denver and surrounding areas, we’ll help you not only manage the charges up-front and within moments or hours, but we’ll get you scheduled for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case. You need help without delay, act quickly to get a Colorado domestic violence lawyer like Mr. Bresee on your side.

Our legal services extend to the following areas:

  • Arapahoe County including Aurora, Centennial, Englewood, Greenwood Village, and Littleton
  • Adams County including Thornton and Westminster
  • Denver County
  • Douglas County including Castle Rock, Highlands Ranch, and Parker
  • El Paso County including Colorado Springs and Security-Widefield
  • Gilpin County including Central City 
  • Jefferson County including Arvada and Lakewood
  • Weld County including Greeley and Longmont

Colorado Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic violence represents a special case in Colorado law. There is no specific statute that defines domestic violence as its own crime. Instead, you will be charged with another crime, such as assault, then you will have domestic violence added to that crime as a “sentence enhancer,” which means that you will face more severe penalties for the crime than you would if the victim were a stranger. 

The statutes define when this sentence enhancer can be added: “domestic violence means an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor has been involved in an intimate relationship.” It further defines an intimate relationship as being between:

  • Spouses
  • Former spouses
  • Past or present unmarried couples
  • Parents of the same child, regardless of marital status or cohabitation

Once your charge has been defined as domestic violence, special evidence rules may apply that can make it harder for you to defend yourself against the charge. It limits the types of deals you can make with the court, and can make your sentencing much harsher. You may have to spend time in jail for charges that otherwise would have allowed home detention. You may have limited access to probation. 

Often, charges that would have been misdemeanors without domestic violence enhancement can become serious felonies. 

Mandatory Arrests

Again, because of the imminent danger aspect of domestic violence cases, Colorado enforces a mandatory arrest law. When police arrive in response to a report of potential domestic violence, they will first establish probable cause, then they will arrest someone. 

This arrest is just the first in a series of “automatic” steps that a domestic violence case will follow. Once arrested, an alleged offender will be taken to jail. The alleged offender will remain in jail until a judge can set a bond amount.

Finally, the case can proceed even if the accuser decides they don’t want to press charges. Prosecutors will take over the case, and it will not end until there’s a verdict or the prosecutor declares they don’t have enough evidence to proceed. There are even mandatory protection orders that can interfere with your life until long after the case is resolved. 

Our Law Office Is on Your Side 

When you need a domestic violence attorney in Colorado, Denver lawyer M. Colin Bresee has over 1000 cases of domestic violence experience, creating a masterful navigation of the complex legal system. Domestic violence has its own unique set of rules, and you want a lawyer who knows these rules inside and out. Mr. Bresee has worked domestic violence cases from all sides, and he understands how to use the rules to the advantage of his clients. 

Colorado Domestic Violence FAQs

Below are frequently asked questions (FAQs) regarding domestic violence charges in Colorado.

Is domestic violence considered a criminal charge?

Domestic violence is not a criminal charge. Domestic violence is merely notice of a sentencing enhancement. You must first be charged with a predicate act (ex: assault, harassment, criminal mischief, disturbing the peace, etc.). After the predicate act is charged, law enforcement will then list notice of a sentencing enhancement of domestic violence under CRS 18-6-801.6. If you are convicted of the predicate act AND the sentencing enhancement of domestic violence, then the Court WILL likely impose a more severe sentence and 36 weeks of domestic violence classes.

What crimes are commonly labeled domestic violence?

Typically, the domestic violence enhancer is added to crimes like assault, stalking, harassment, child abuse, sexual contact, sexual assault, violating a restraining order, and criminal mischief. However, any crime that can be interpreted as violence or the threat of violence can receive the domestic violence sentence enhancer. 

How fast will my domestic violence case proceed?

Very fast. Police will file a report the same day as the arrest, and you must enter an initial plea during the first court hearing. While many cases may give you weeks to find a lawyer before arraignment, you may have only days to secure counsel. 

Will I have a restraining order?

Yes. Colorado law requires a mandatory protection order (MPO), commonly called a restraining order. However, a lawyer may be able to get the order lifted or modified to make it less of a burden, providing it still provides adequate protection. 

How will a domestic violence label alter the penalties for my conviction?

There are many potential penalties associated with the domestic violence enhancement. If your crime is labeled domestic violence, you may:

  • Be ineligible for home detention
  • Get counseling or other related treatment
  • Have limited access to probation or parole
  • Have longer jail time
  • Be convicted of a felony rather than a misdemeanor

The exact consequences depend on the nature of the associated charge. 

What are the penalties for a habitual domestic violence offender?

If you are convicted of a crime with the domestic violence label for the fourth time, you are considered a habitual domestic offender. In addition to any sentences for this conviction, you will receive:

  • 1-3 years in prison 
  • A fine of up to $100,000

This is a class 5 felony, in addition to other charges you’re convicted of. 

I just posted my bond. Am I subject to any restrictions?

Domestic violence labels lead to greater restrictions on defendants. Even if you’ve already posted your bond, the District Attorney may still attempt to add more restrictions. Some of the ways domestic violence charges are handled differently include:

All domestic violence calls have a mandatory arrest – if the call is made, you will be brought into custody.

Even if the reporting party or victim does NOT want to proceed, the Court can arrest you, and the police can issue a warrant.

The Court can impose “reasonable terms” associated with your bond.

What are these “reasonable terms?”

  • No contact with the victim or the 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 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 court-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 protect your rights to avoid this.
  • You may be court-ordered to wear a GPS ankle bracelet until your case is concluded.

Facts and Statistics Residents Should Know

  • Domestic violence accounts for about 20% of all violent crime. 
  • 37% of Colorado women and 31% of Colorado men experience violence, sexual violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. 
  • In Colorado, 15% of all homicides are committed by intimate partners. ⅔ of those killings involved firearms.
  • In 2019, domestic violence deaths in Colorado increased by 63% from 2018. 
  • In Denver, there are nearly five domestic violence incidents every day. 
  • In Denver, most domestic violence crimes occur on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday, and happen from 8pm to midnight. 

Signs of Domestic Violence Abuse

Domestic violence incidents don’t usually happen suddenly. They develop over time and involve cyclical behaviors which may not be reported. It is important for friends and family members to watch for signs of domestic abuse, including:

  • Visible injuries like bruising from choking, punching, or being thrown. Black eyes and banged heads are common. 
  • Victims often try to conceal injuries with makeup or clothes.
  • Victims attempt to explain away repeated injuries, often without being asked. 
  • Avoiding social interactions with friends, family, or coworkers.
  • Having to ask permission for activities that most people are free to do, like talking or meeting with others. 
  • Having little or no money, no credit cards in their name, or lacking their own transportation.

Statutes Associated with Domestic Violence Crimes

18-6-800.3. Definitions.

As used in this part 8, unless the context otherwise requires:

(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.

(2) “Intimate relationship” means 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.

18-6-801. Domestic violence–sentencing (Partial)

(1)(a) In addition to any sentence that is imposed upon a person for violation of any criminal law under this title, any person who is convicted of any crime, the underlying factual basis of which has been found by the court on the record to include an act of domestic violence, as defined in section 18-6-800.3(1) , or any crime against property, whether or not such crime is a felony, when such crime is 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 shall be ordered to complete a treatment program and a treatment evaluation that conform with the standards adopted by the domestic violence offender management board as required by section 16-11.8-103(4), C.R.S .  If an intake evaluation conducted by an approved treatment program provider discloses that sentencing to a treatment program would be inappropriate, the person shall be referred back to the court for alternative disposition.

(b) The court may order a treatment evaluation to be conducted prior to sentencing if a treatment evaluation would assist the court in determining an appropriate sentence.  The person ordered to undergo such evaluation shall be required to pay the cost of the treatment evaluation.  If such treatment evaluation recommends treatment, and if the court so finds, the person shall be ordered to complete a treatment program that conforms with the standards adopted by the domestic violence offender management board as required by section 16-11.8-103(4), C.R.S .

18-6-801.5. Domestic violence–evidence of similar transactions

(1) The general assembly hereby finds that domestic violence is frequently cyclical in nature, involves patterns of abuse, and can consist of harm with escalating levels of seriousness.  The general assembly therefore declares that evidence of similar transactions can be helpful and is necessary in some situations in prosecuting crimes involving domestic violence.

(2) In criminal prosecutions involving domestic violence in which the defendant and the victim named in the information have engaged in an intimate relationship as of the time alleged in the information, evidence of any other acts of domestic violence between the defendant and the victim named in the information, and between the defendant and other persons, constitute other acts or transactions for the purposes of this section, and the court may authorize the admission of evidence as provided in subsection (3) of this section.

(3) The proponent of evidence of other acts or transactions under this section shall advise the trial court by offer of proof of such evidence and shall specify whether the evidence is offered to show a common plan, scheme, design, identity, modus operandi, motive, or guilty knowledge or for some other purpose.

(4) Upon the offer of proof under subsection (3) of this section, the trial court shall determine whether the probative value of the evidence of similar acts or transactions is substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice to the defendant, confusion of the issues, or misleading of the jury if the evidence is allowed or by considerations of undue delay, waste of time, or needless presentation of cumulative evidence.

(5) Upon admitting evidence of other acts or transactions into evidence pursuant to this section and again in the general charge to the jury, the trial court shall direct the jury as to the limited purpose for which the evidence is admitted and for which the jury may consider it.

18-6-803.5. Crime of violation of a protection order–penalty–peace officers’ duties–definitions (Partial)

(1) A person commits the crime of violation of a protection order if, after the person has been personally served with a protection order that identifies the person as a restrained person or otherwise has acquired from the court or law enforcement personnel actual knowledge of the contents of a protection order that identifies the person as a restrained person, the person:

(a) Contacts, harasses, injures, intimidates, molests, threatens, or touches the protected person or protected property, including an animal, identified in the protection order or enters or remains on premises or comes within a specified distance of the protected person, protected property, including an animal, or premises or violates any other provision of the protection order to protect the protected person from imminent danger to life or health, and such conduct is prohibited by the protection order;

(b) Except as permitted pursuant to section 18-13-126(1)(b) , hires, employs, or otherwise contracts with another person to locate or assist in the location of the protected person;  or

(c) Violates a civil protection order issued pursuant to section 13-14-105.5, C.R.S ., or pursuant to section 18-1-1001(9) by:

(I) Possessing or attempting to purchase or receive a firearm or ammunition while the protection order is in effect;  or

(II) Failing to timely file a receipt or written statement with the court as described in section 13-14-105.5(9), C.R.S ., or in section 18-1-1001(9)(i) or 18-6-801(8)(i) .

(2)(a) Violation of a protection order is a class 2 misdemeanor;  except that, if the restrained person has previously been convicted of violating this section or a former version of this section or an analogous municipal ordinance, or if the protection order is issued pursuant to section 18-1-1001 , the violation is a class 1 misdemeanor.

(a.5) A second or subsequent violation of a protection order is an extraordinary risk crime that is subject to the modified sentencing range specified in section 18-1.3-501(3) .

(3)(a) Whenever a protection order is issued, the protected person shall be provided with a copy of such order.  A peace officer shall use every reasonable means to enforce a protection order.

(b) A peace officer shall arrest, or, if an arrest would be impractical under the circumstances, seek a warrant for the arrest of a restrained person when the peace officer has information amounting to probable cause that:

(I) The restrained person has violated or attempted to violate any provision of a protection order;  and

(II) The restrained person has been properly served with a copy of the protection order or the restrained person has received actual notice of the existence and substance of such order.

(c) In making the probable cause determination described in paragraph (b) of this subsection (3), a peace officer shall assume that the information received from the registry is accurate.  A peace officer shall enforce a valid protection order whether or not there is a record of the protection order in the registry.

(d) The arrest and detention of a restrained person is governed by applicable constitutional and applicable state rules of criminal procedure.  The arrested person shall be removed from the scene of the arrest and shall be taken to the peace officer’s station for booking, whereupon the arrested person may be held or released in accordance with the adopted bonding schedules for the jurisdiction in which the arrest is made, or the arrested person may be taken to the jail in the county where the protection order was issued.  The law enforcement agency or any other locally designated agency shall make all reasonable efforts to contact the protected party upon the arrest of the restrained person.  The prosecuting attorney shall present any available arrest affidavits and the criminal history of the restrained person to the court at the time of the first appearance of the restrained person before the court.

(e) The arresting agency arresting the restrained person shall forward to the issuing court a copy of such agency’s report, a list of witnesses to the violation, and, if applicable, a list of any charges filed or requested against the restrained person.  The agency shall give a copy of the agency’s report, witness list, and charging list to the protected party.  The agency shall delete the address and telephone number of a witness from the list sent to the court upon request of such witness, and such address and telephone number shall not thereafter be made available to any person, except law enforcement officials and the prosecuting agency, without order of the court.