Coloradoans are faced with a ridiculously broad definition of Domestic Violence (DV) in Colorado under C.R.S. 18-6-800.3. That definition just became broader still. This definition is used in Denver, Arapahoe and Jefferson County, and every County in Colorado. It is so broad that it includes just any act of violence, harassment, intimidation; and any other act involving coercion, control, punishment, intimidation or revenge against a person who has been in an "intimate relationship" with the accused person. It is important to remember that domestic violence is not its own crime, but is added and applied to any crime when the elements are met. Domestic Violence is called a "sentence enhancer."
Definitions of terms are critical in matters of law, and the definition of Intimate Relationship is just as ridiculous. "Intimate Relationship" is "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." C.R.S. 18-6-800.3(2). In the past, Courts have often interpreted this as a "sexual relationship."
Not long ago, there was a case in the Adams County Court where the judge ruled the defendant did not commit an act of Domestic Violence because there was no evidence he ever had a sexual relationship with the victim. Upset with the ruling, the District Attorney appealed the case to the Adams County District Court. And just like the County Court, this judge agreed the term "intimate relationship" referred to a "sexual relationship."
When the Colorado Supreme Court reviewed the above case, People v. Disher, 224 P.3d, 254 (Colo, 2010), they interpreted the definition of "intimate relationship" differently than the lower Courts, and reversed the decisions. The Colorado Supreme Court said, "Evidence of a sexual relationship is not necessary to establish the existence of an intimate relationship." Id. at 255. This ruling opened up previously unanticipated ways for a person to be charged with DV.
Now the question is, can I be found guilty of Domestic Violence if I get into a fight with a person I may have held hands with or kissed five years ago? You can use your own imagination how far this can go since this broad definition of "intimate relationship" is now law. What was settled law is now anyone's guess.
If you are charged with Domestic Violence in Weld County, Douglas County, or anywhere in Colorado, you need the help of an experienced Defense Lawyer. A DV conviction will follow you the rest of your life. So please take our advice, be smart, exercise you right to remain silent, and call us at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.