Denver Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
Denver Domestic Violence Attorney
Many don’t realize this but Colorado has a mandatory arrest law when domestic violence is suspected. This is left to the officer on scene’s discretion, which means that determination of the situation can be arbitrary. When it comes to your domestic violence defense, this works in your favor.
In Colorado, a victim does not have the power to ‘drop the charges,’ the way they do in other states. The decision to prosecute or not is left up to the District Attorney (DA). This is one of the major reasons why you need to hire an experienced attorney for your domestic violence defense if you are facing charges. Domestic violence is a varied charge and does not always mean that physical assault has taken place. Domestic violence can include the destruction of property belonging to an intimate partner, or it can imply coercion and intimidation.
If you have been in an altercation of any kind with your partner that resulted in either physical harm or property damages, contact an attorney just in case you need a domestic violence defense. Domestic violence cases are considered to be ‘victim’s rights’ cases. What this means is that the person deemed to be the victim is given a lot of power, consultation rights and notification rights. Although a victim cannot choose to drop any charges, they can have a significant impact on how a case turns out.
If you are in a relationship that is particularly volatile – in ways other than physically – you could face some serious consequences for repeat offences, even if they are misdemeanors. Repeated misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence (that resulted in convictions) can lead to subsequent misdemeanors being bumped up to felony charges. Everyone argues and fights in a relationship, we know that, and we understand these situations very well. In order to protect yourself adequately, you need a solid domestic violence defense in order to prevent felony charges, which could lead to anywhere from 1-3 years in prison.
Misunderstandings happen, and the on-scene officer may make a poor judgment call based on the circumstances – a judgment call that can affect you for the rest of your life. Being wrongfully convicted of domestic violence can affect your gun rights, your ability to secure employment, and require you to seek treatment and undergo evaluation. Be sure you have an iron-clad domestic violence defense and an attorney you can rely on. Serious charges of this nature aren’t just about the moment, they are about your future too. Secure your future.
At Albani Law we have years of experience successfully defending against charges of this nature. If you need a dependable domestic violence defense, contact us today.
Colorado Domestic Violence Charges
Colorado domestic violence charges aren’t as cut and dry as you might imagine. Domestic violence can include many things. It can be any crime committed as a means of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge against an intimate partner. An example of this would be a girlfriend/boyfriend vandalizing their significant other’s vehicle because they suspect they are cheating.
Colorado also has mandatory arrest laws when domestic violence charges are involved. If the officer on scene has reasonable cause to believe an act of domestic violence has been committed, they are required by law to arrest the person in question without delay if they are at the scene. Furthermore, once in jail the accused cannot receive bond until the victim is notified and provided the opportunity to be heard at the bond hearing.
Colorado domestic violence charges are laid by the state, not the victim. This means that the victim, no matter what the situation, has no power to drop the charges against the accused. Only the District Attorney can decide whether or not a case goes forward, which means if the person who originally reported an event or complained decides they no longer want to continue with the case, the DA still will.
In Colorado, domestic violence charges are considered “victim’s rights” cases.
This means that the victim in the case has several rights that go above and beyond a typical criminal case. These rights include consulting with the DA before any deals or offers are made, being notified when a period of incarceration ends, and having a voice during court proceedings. In some cases misdemeanor charges can be elevated to felony charges if the accused has a history of domestic violence charges.
The consequences of being charged with domestic violence include your ability to own firearms which is often a lifetime restriction after a conviction, and you will be mandated to attend domestic violence classes. In most cases, even for misdemeanors, this means at least 36 one hour sessions over the course of 36 weeks. The only time these classes are rendered moot is if the accused goes to prison.
Colorado domestic violence charges do not allow for the accused to serve their time at home, under house arrest if they live with the victim. As domestic violence is a crime against an intimate partner (spouse) the chances of the accused not living with the victim are rare.
If you find yourself faced with Colorado domestic violence charges, contact Albani Law right away. Whether you are a first time offender, or repeat offender, you need a qualified attorney at your side. Make the right choice and choose Albani Law.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence
In Colorado, what constitutes domestic violence isn’t simply physical assault of your spouse. In fact, domestic violence can encompass a variety of acts committed against any intimate partner, including a girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, child or an ex.
Domestic violence also includes any crime committed as a means of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge against an intimate partner. From destruction of property, to uttering threats to get a desired result, when an intimate partner is involved, it’s considered domestic violence.
This type of crime is a problem across the United States and Colorado has taken steps to make punishment for these crimes more severe. Part of this punishment includes mandatory arrest, domestic violence classes, loss of right to bear arms and an inability to complete a sentence under house arrest.
Domestic violence cases are automatically considered victim’s rights cases, and in an attempt to protect the victim in question, they are afforded rights that go above and beyond a typical case. These rights include being informed of any deal the District Attorney may plan to offer the accused, as well as prior notification to the impending release of the accused from custody.
With thousands of domestic violence cases each year in Colorado, the strict laws aim to protect the victim from further crimes. In the case of domestic violence, where the perpetrator and victim have a well-established relationship, it’s easy for this type of general violence to escalate to fatal levels, particularly after time, or some other punishment has been served.
Domestic violence can also involve children and in cases where children are involved, charges and punishment can be even more serious.
If you are facing domestic violence charges, contact us today. We have plenty of experience defending clients in these sort of cases, and have the experience necessary to ensure your rights are protected and you get the chance to defend yourself.
Domestic Violence Restraining Orders
A protection, or domestic violence restraining order in Colorado is a civil order that provides protection from harm by:
- any person who is or has been related to you by blood or marriage
- any person who has lived with you or lives with you now
- any person with whom you have had an intimate relationship
A domestic violence restraining order is an official court order designed to stop violent, harassing, and intimidating behavior, and to protect you and/or your children from an abuser.
It prohibits the person named in the order from contacting you in any way, harassing, stalking, injuring, intimidating, threatening, stalking or sexually abusing you and may forbid the restrained person from entering or remaining in a specific place or from coming within a certain distance of you or your home. These protection orders also extend protection from the abuser to your pets.
The types of restraining orders available:
Temporary Protection Orders: A temporary protection order can be issued if the judge believes that you are in immediate danger. This can be obtained without the presence or notification of the abuser. This style of order is designed to protect you during the time that it takes for your court hearing for a permanent order to take place, generally within the next 14 days. Although you can obtain this order without the abusers knowledge, the order is not enforceable until the abuser is served notification.
Permanent Protection Orders: At a hearing attended by both parties, a judge can choose to continue the temporary protection order for up to 1 year, or if the judge determines that the abuser has committed domestic violence, and that without the order the victim will be under some sort of ongoing threat of violence, the order can be made permanent. The provisions of the permanent order may be the same or different from those of the temporary order.
Emergency Protection Orders: An emergency protection order can be requested by local law enforcement based on the belief that an adult is in immediate and present danger of domestic abuse, assault, stalking, sexual assault/abuse or that a minor child is in immediate danger of an unlawful sexual offense or domestic abuse (based upon an allegation of a recent actual or threatened unlawful sexual offense or domestic abuse). When children are involved, the order can be requested by local authorities or social services, without the permission of a parent.
A domestic violence restraining order, or protection order as they are commonly called, are designed to offer immediate legal protection to the victim (and their children) of domestic violence. The type of order invoked will depend on the situation and circumstances of the domestic violence. For temporary orders, judges do not require that the violence in question be occurring currently or recently.
Domestic Violence and Children
Colorado law defines the crime of child abuse to include circumstances in which a person “unreasonably places a child in a situation that poses a threat of injury.” In most cases subjecting a child to a situation where domestic violence is present would constitute child abuse in the eyes of the Colorado courts.
Domestic violence and children is taken very seriously in Colorado, whether or not the child is a target of the violence or a mere bystander.
While a typical domestic violence charge is bad, a domestic violence charge accompanied by a child abuse charge will mean that the restraining order issued in the domestic violence case, will include the child in question.
If you are criminally investigated for the act of child abuse, you may find yourself included in the TRAILS database of Colorado, a database reserved for child abusers. Finally, if at the time of the domestic violence and child abuse case you happen to be in the throes of a divorce, your chances of custody of any kind will be seriously compromised.
Domestic violence and children creates a very sticky situation for the accused and requires the full the support of an experienced attorney. Upon an allegation of domestic violence where the police are called, it is likely that the party accused will be arrested and will spend at least one night in jail. There will be no bond amount on the citation, and therefore the arrested person must appear in front of a judge to have a bond amount set.
A prosecutor may prosecute a domestic violence allegation without cooperation from the person who originally alleged domestic violence, particularly if children are involved. Therefore, even if the complaining spouse wants the domestic violence charge dropped, it won’t matter. The DA has every right to pursue the case independently.
When a restraining order is issued in the case of domestic violence and child abuse, a person who violates a restraining order or is charged with domestic violence a second (or third, or fourth) time will likely be faced with jail time and charged with a felony.
In Colorado domestic violence alone is not a ‘crime’, but rather a sentencing enhancer. Usually the crime is something else that falls under the umbrella of domestic violence (harassment, assault, coercion). A domestic violence conviction will result in the following penalties:
- Up to two years in jail
- One or more years of probation,
- 36-weeks of domestic violence counseling;
- A court-issued protection order that prohibits you from contacting or coming within a certain distance of the victim.
- If charged with felony domestic violence, you may also face time in the state prison.
Misdemeanor Domestic Violence
A domestic violence misdemeanor happens when one family member commits or threatens violence against another family member or person they live with. Although domestic violence usually involves the crimes of assault and battery, updates to the crime itself have expanded it to involve other charges as well.
Domestic violence does not just mean physical violence, but also includes threats of violence and verbal/emotional abuse. Domestic violence laws protect a broad classification of people who live together, including spouses, roommates, housemates, elders and children, dating partners, and same-sex partners.
Misdemeanor domestic violence is often cited for a first or second offense, depending on the nature of the domestic violence, however, if child abuse or sexual assault are involved, a misdemeanor charge can quickly be elevated to a felony charge.
Misdemeanor domestic violence typically results in fines and some jail time, but it is not uncommon for the accused to lose custody/visitation rights to their children, as well as lose employment opportunities because domestic violence charges make it impossible to own a firearm. Therefore, those charged who work in a field with firearms, may lose their jobs entirely.
“A misdemeanor crime of domestic violence means an offense that:
- 1. is a misdemeanor under Federal or State law;
- 2. has, as an element, the use or attempted use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon; and
- 3. was committed by a current or former spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim, by a person with whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabiting with or has cohabited with the victim as a spouse, parent, or guardian, or by a person similarly situated to a spouse, parent, or guardian of the victim.
However, a person is not considered to have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence unless:
- 1. the person was represented by counsel in the case, or knowingly and intelligently waived the right of counsel in the case; and
- 2. in the case of a prosecution for which a person was entitled to a jury trial in the jurisdiction in which the case was tried, either —
- 3. the case was tried by a jury, or
- 4. the person knowingly and intelligently waived the right to have the case tried by a jury, by guilty plea or otherwise.
In addition, a conviction would not be disabling if it has been expunged or set aside, or is an offense for which the person has been pardoned or has had civil rights restored (if the law of the jurisdiction in which the proceedings were held provides for the loss of civil rights upon conviction for such an offense) unless the pardon, expunction, or restoration of civil rights expressly provides that the person may not ship, transport, possess, or receive firearms, and the person is not otherwise prohibited by the law of the jurisdiction in which the proceedings were held from receiving or possessing firearms.”
Felony Domestic Violence
When it comes to domestic violence, the state of Colorado allows for very little wiggle room. The law is clear and the law is strict. If someone calls the police due to domestic violence, an officer will be dispatched and an arrest will occur.
As domestic violence poses a serious, and potentially ongoing threat to the victim, mandatory arrest laws have been put into place. Felony domestic violence charges usually occur when a person is charged with domestic violence more than once, or a particularly heinous crime has resulted under the umbrella of domestic violence.
Crimes such as sexual assault, aggravated assault or cases involving children (as well as multiple offenders) are often considered felony crimes. Felony domestic violence charges, if convicted, carry with them monetary fines, restraining orders, prison time, restrictive probation and domestic violence education classes.
Because domestic violence has the potential to escalate quickly and result in a more serious offense being committed (murder, manslaughter etc.), Colorado lawmakers have gone above and beyond to control the issue before it becomes exacerbated. This is why Colorado domestic violence penalties are so strict.
A felony domestic violence conviction can impede your ability to gain employment and prevent you from having a relationship with your children, if you have any. The consequences of such a crime are long-lasting and far reaching. It is important that you attain a qualified Colorado lawyer to handle your case as soon as possible. Some jurisdictions in Colorado pressure the accused into a plea bargain agreement immediately, often before they have a chance to seek council.
Despite the charges against you, you do have the right to an attorney and the right to defend yourself. It is imperative that your attorney review your case to determine if you have a strong, if any, defense before submitting to a plea bargain. Your attorney should also review the plea bargain terms before you agree to them to determine if they are fair given the circumstances.
It’s easy to sign your life away if it allows you to avoid significant time in prison, but it’s in your best interest to not make any decisions without a lawyer present. Due to the nature of felony domestic violence charges and the impact they will undoubtedly have on your life, these aren’t decisions you want to make in haste.
At Albani Law we have years of experience working in the Colorado legal system in all kinds of domestic violence and assault cases. We are familiar with what you’ll be facing as a result of these charges and there is no one better equipped to take on your defense than us. Contact us as soon as possible if you are accused of misdemeanor or felony domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Harassment
In Colorado a person commits harassment if, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, they:
- Strike, shove, kick, or otherwise touch a person or subjects them to physical contact
- In a public place directs obscene language or makes an obscene gesture to or at another person
- Initiates communication with a person, anonymously or otherwise by telephone, telephone network, data network, text message, instant message, computer, computer network, or computer system in a manner intended to harass or threaten bodily injury or property damage, or makes any comment, request, suggestion, or proposal by telephone, computer, computer network, or computer system that is obscene
- Makes a telephone call or causes a telephone to ring repeatedly, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate conversation
- Makes repeated communications at inconvenient hours that invade the privacy of another and interfere in the use and enjoyment of another’s home or private residence or other private property
- Repeatedly insults, taunts, challenges, or makes communications in offensively coarse language to, another in a manner likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response
These actions are later deemed domestic violence harassment if the subject of the harassment is or has been an intimate partner of the one committing the harassment. Harassment is a very broad charge but to prove harassment it must first be proven that the action was done with the specific purpose to harass, annoy, or alarm the victim.
No matter how minor you may perceive your harassing behavior to be, it can result in an arrest if it is deemed to be a case of domestic violence. Because the enhancer of domestic violence is attached to the charge, the District Attorney will gain power over whether or not to prosecute you on the charges – the victim does not get a choice about whether to proceed with the charges.
On top of this, those accused of domestic violence harassment, assault, coercion or any number of other charges, will be faced with mandatory domestic violence education classes, an inability to bear arms and a likely a restraining order, which may or may not become permanent.
Domestic violence harassment, although broad, offers very little distinction on paper once you are convicted. Harassment is typically a class 3 felony, but it could be upgraded depending on the severity of the situation.
If you have been charged or arrested for domestic violence harassment, contact us at Albani Law. We are experienced in handling domestic violence cases and will work hard to defend you or reach an agreeable plea bargain. Domestic violence convictions can and do have a lasting effect on your future, make sure you consult a qualified attorney before making any decisions regarding your case.
Domestic Violence Stalking
“Domestic violence” isn’t something a person gets charged with, but rather is used to enhance another charge. It is illegal to abuse, sexually assault, stalk or harass someone, and these are crimes that can be committed in and of themselves, or under the umbrella of domestic violence.
In order for a crime such as stalking to be considered domestic violence stalking, the accused would have to currently or previously have had an intimate relationship with the supposed victim.
Stalking is unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group toward another person. These behaviors are generally considered to be related to harassment and intimidation, and may include following the victim around or monitoring them in some other way. “Stalking” as a term, may be used differently by different jurisdictions.
According to a 2002 report by the National Center for Victims of Crime, “Virtually any unwanted contact between two people [that intends] to directly or indirectly communicates a threat or places the victim in fear can be considered stalking,” although in practice the legal standard is usually somewhat stricter and domestic violence stalking can carry heavier consequences.
There is a lot of concern surrounding domestic violence level offenses due to the relationship between the accused and the victims. The intimate nature of the relationships between those involved in domestic violence cases, often leaves one party (the aggressor) feeling entitled. This entitlement can be geared toward attention, physical pleasure or other favors, and the sense of entitlement is part and parcel to what can cause these situations to escalate quickly.
In other words, people who know each other well tend to take liberties with one another, sometimes without a second thought, and in some circumstances with a blatant disregard for the feelings or well-being of one another. When an intimate partner or ex-partner feels scorned, or like you owe them something, or possibly even that you belong to them like property, issues like domestic violence stalking arise.
Stalkers, psychologically speaking, often feel that it is their duty to rescue the person they are stalking, or are under the mistaken belief that the person they are stalking loves them. In some cases stalkers terrorize the person they are stalking to make them feel unsafe and increase the likelihood of them turning to the stalker for safety – particularly in domestic violence stalking situations. This crime often involves manipulation of all kinds.
If you have been accused of domestic violence stalking, contact us today. Many actions such as sending emails, gifts or contacting a person via telephone are perfectly legal and normal, however, a person could interpret these acts as stalking if they are unwanted. Do yourself a favor and get an attorney with the experience to defend and protect you against stalking charges.
The Domestic Violence Fast Track Program
The domestic violence fast track program was created to ensure a speedy process for both the victim and the accused. Part of this is because in many domestic violence cases, time is of the essence.
Getting a victim protected either physically or legally is an important part of stopping the crime, which means things like protection orders need to issued quickly.
In Colorado if the domestic violence mandatory arrest procedures are invoked, the accused must be taken to jail and booked immediately, and can be expected to appear in court the very next day.
The same day a victim will receive ‘A Notice to Appear’ requesting their presence in court the same day as the defendant’s appearance. These proceedings are important and being present at court allows victims to:
- receive immediate support
- request special conditions for bond
- leave with a copy of their mandatory protection order (MPO)
- meet with a deputy district attorney
- discuss a possible disposition of their case
- begin safety planning with a victim advocate
There are many avenues available for victims to find out pertinent information, including when or whether the accused will be released from jail. The District Attorney’s Office provides information for victims on shelters they can go to, important numbers they can call, including what to do if they cannot attend a hearing.
The domestic violence fast track program was installed to protect victims and prosecute the accused as soon as possible. This program has been fully-fleshed out to provide as much information and resources for the victims of domestic violence and their families, as quickly as possible.
Domestic violence cases fall under the discretion of the District Attorney, not the victim. This means that if the victim decides they no longer wish to press charges, the accused will not be set free. This measure is a logical method that serves to protect the victim and remove power from the accused.
If the victim has the power to proceed in court or not, then measures of blackmail, intimidation or other threats could be utilized by the defendant to sway the victim’s choices. If the victim has no power to make this decision, they cannot be a target for further domestic violence. That being said, the District Attorney may decide not to prosecute, but that would be decided on a case-by-case basis, given all the facts.
If you have been accused of domestic violence, becoming familiar with the domestic violence fast track program can help prepare for what’s to come. Your lawyer can also help you understand what you will face in the days following your arrest, and how you can prepare.
Colorado’s Mandatory Domestic Violence Arrest Policy
Colorado has a strict stance on domestic violence and accusations of it. The state has enacted a mandatory arrest policy in cases of alleged domestic violence. What does this mean? This means that if the police are called to a scene of alleged domestic violence, they are required to arrest the accused.
The mandatory domestic violence arrest policies in most states that have them are designed in light of the 4th amendment (probable cause) on paper, but in practice they often fall short of probable cause. In fact, many who study law and the training programs believe that it all simply boils down to “believe the accuser,” which can carry some serious consequences for the falsely accused.
The reasoning behind the laws is primarily to provide immediate protection for the victim(s). Where domestic violence is concerned, situations can spiral out of control quickly and in many instances victims do not report domestic violence for fear of further violence. The Colorado domestic violence mandatory arrest policy works to provide immediate protection and encourage victims to step forward and report the crimes.
In Colorado the language of the law is a little different and actually invokes probable cause:
Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 18-6-803.6
- Officer does not need to arrest both parties when responding to domestic violence reports.
- Officers do not need to arrest anyone if there is no probable cause to believe a crime/offense was committed.
Domestic violence is not an actual crime in and of itself, but is rather considered an ‘aggravator’ that can work to compound other crimes. According to Colorado Revised Statute 18-6-800.3 (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.”
In the face of domestic violence charges, or simply an arrest under suspicion of domestic violence, you need to contact an experienced law firm, such as us – Albani Law. The Colorado mandatory domestic violence arrest policy can have a serious impact on your life. If you’ve been wrongfully accused or detained, it is important you secure a lawyer to ensure your name stays clear.