Unlike many states, Colorado’s criminal code does not contain a separate offense for domestic violence. Technically, the charge is for assault. The domestic violence aspect of the charges comes into play after a conviction or guilty plea, during the sentencing stage.
State law defines domestic violence assault as an assault against a person with whom the defendant has an “intimate relationship.” Those relationships include current and former spouses, partners, roommates and co-parents. Also, the assault must have been intended to control the victim, force them to do something, punish them, intimidate them, or get revenge against them.
Added penalties for domestic violence
Assault charges range from misdemeanors like menacing and third-degree assault to felonies like second- and first-degree assault and menacing with a deadly weapon. On top of the potential penalties for an assault conviction, a conviction for domestic violence assault can add the following:
- If the judge does not sentence the defendant to prison time, they will order the defendant to complete a domestic violence treatment program.
- A third or subsequent conviction for domestic violence assault is treated as a Class 5 Felony, even if the underlying charges were all misdemeanors.
- It is more difficult for a defendant convicted of domestic violence to be allowed to serve their sentence under house arrest. Also, probation can be granted only if the judge deems that it would be safe for any children in the home.
- Someone with a domestic violence assault conviction, even a misdemeanor, cannot possess or buy any guns or ammo. Instead, they must sell or give away their guns, or pay to have law enforcement or a dealer store them.
- You may also have a protection order placed against you that prevents you from seeing your intimate partner and children. If you violate the order, you may be arrested and charged with a separate crime.
Domestic assault charges can dramatically change your life and must be taken seriously. But you may have options to challenge the charges. An arrest is not the same as a conviction. With the help of an experienced defense attorney, it may be possible to get the charge reduced or dismissed entirely.