What do the words Domestic Violence mean to you?
I’ve found that most people think of Domestic Violence as involving very bad people that physically brutalize defenseless victims. Personally, I think of the movies Slingblade and Enough. Those movies featured dark antagonists that shamelessly controlled and severely beat their victims. As one might expect, however, Hollywood’s portrayal of Domestic Violence misses the reality mark.
Domestic Violence is defined in Colorado Revised Statute 18-6-800.3 as follows:
(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.
The underlined portion of the above paragraph is what is often overlooked. In Colorado, ANY CRIME can be an act of Domestic Violence. I repeat, ANY CRIME. A confused husband that, after being served with a divorce petition, calls his wife too many times can be considered Domestic Violence. A woman that sends her child a birthday present to an address listed on a protection order can be considered Domestic Violence. Accordingly, these seemingly mild and non-violent crimes can have very severe consequences.
First, you will go to jail. This is not discretionary; Colorado police officers are required to arrest any person they have probable cause to believe committed an act of Domestic Violence. Second, you sit in jail until your next hearing or you post bond. Third, to put it simply, your case is dismissed by the prosecutor due to lack of evidence, you take a “deal,” you get acquitted at trial, or you get convicted at trial. If you take a “deal” or get convicted, the collateral consequences can also be devastating.
Any “deal,” to include a deferred judgment and sentence, offered by a prosecutor in Domestic Violence cases will almost always require the accused to submit to a Domestic Violence evaluation and comply with any recommendations stemming from the evaluation. This requirement is guaranteed if a person is convicted of an act of Domestic Violence at trial. The evaluation puts each person into three different categories: Level A (low intensity), Level B (moderate intensity), and Level C (high intensity). People are placed in a level of treatment based on the findings from the evaluation, offender treatment needs, and level of risk. Any level of treatment (some level of treatment is always required) requires a person to pay for treatment and supervision.
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Additionally, the Brady Bill provides that any person that is convicted of Domestic Violence will not be able to purchase or possess a firearm for the rest of his or her life. This provision also extends to even more tenuous non-criminal legal actions. For instance, in cases that involve civil protection orders, a Court must make findings related to Domestic Abuse which often implicates the Brady Bill. Considering our significant military presence, this consequence is of particular importance in the Colorado Springs community. Men and women in the military will often lose their livelihood as a result of domestic violence.
Aside from being required to successfully complete Domestic Violence treatment and losing the right to own a firearm, a person faces all the consequences associated with any other crime; jail time, supervised probation, forms of non DV treatment, and no contact provisions are still consequences that a person faces. In sum, it is important to behave appropriately with any person you are or were intimate with. The law is very broad in scope and some of the pettiest behavior can have very significant consequences in your life.