532205_8b2a225fIf you’ve been charged with domestic violence you need domestic violence help from a domestic violence attorney and you need it now. Don’t wait another moment to discover what your rights and options are as you navigate through Colorado’s domestic violence laws. As a seasoned Boulder domestic violence defense lawyer I’ll provide you with both a free consultation and an aggressive advocacy of your case.

Since 1988 Colorado has established domestic violence as a status crime. This means that domestic violence is not actually a crime itself but a designation that attaches to any crime you are charged with where an act or threatened act of violence is alleged to have been directed towards a person with whom you are, or have been involved with, in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence also includes any other crime against a person or property, including animals or municipal ordinance violations when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom you are, or have been, involved with in an intimate relationship.

In a Colorado domestic violence case the term intimate relationship includes 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 parents have been married or lived together at any time.

If you are charged with a crime carrying a domestic violence enhancement in Colorado you will be arrested and while police officers have some leeway to evaluate situations where two participants are alleged to have committed domestic violence acts against each other, if an officer believes that he or she has probable cause you will be arrested and taken to jail.

The issue of whether and when you can be released after a domestic violence arrest is determined by the bonding policies and schedules in each of Colorado’s counties. In the Denver metro area, including Boulder County, there are policies in place that require an appearance before a judge on a domestic violence arrest before you can be bonded out of jail. The delay in being released from jail is primarily tied to a provision in Colorado’s domestic violence law that creates a mandatory protection order and policies that implement that order by having a Judge “explain the order to you” in court, as well as to allow time to obtain the alleged victim’s input.

Any alleged violation of the Court’s domestic violence protective order brought to the attention of the courts, prosecutors or police will result in a new misdemeanor charge, with increasing penalties for second or subsequent offenses. In circumstances where a police officer can establish probable cause for a domestic violence protective order violation your arrest is mandatory.

After years of watching police dramas on television or the movies it is a common misconception that unless an alleged victim chooses to “press charges” police cannot arrest someone for a crime, short of homicide. Under Colorado’s Constitution crimes are deemed to have been committed against the peace and dignity of the People of the State of Colorado and not a named victim. And while it is true that under Colorado’s Constitution an alleged victim of domestic violence is legally entitled to provide input to prosecutors and the court he or she cannot derail a prosecution simply by asking for the charges to be dropped.

Defending domestic violence cases presents many challenges. It is not uncommon for significant others to demand that the mandatory protective order be lifted so that a partner can return home to parent or simply start to put the relationship back into a place where couples counseling and time together can be used to heal a relationship. This becomes extremely difficult when prosecutors use the law to keep families and couples apart, for leverage in plea bargaining, or when domestic violence treatment rules prohibit couples counseling until an approved domestic violence program is completed, often 9 months to a year later.

A strong initial push to thoroughly investigate all aspects of a domestic violence case and early therapeutic evaluations to establish a lack of dangerousness are often the key to presenting a judge with the evidence necessary to establish that a blanket protective order is unnecessary to keep everyone safe.

Colorado law rigidly controls the type of plea bargains that are allowed to resolve a domestic violence case short of trial. Deferred prosecutions, where no admission of guilt is made, are prohibited by law in domestic violence case plea bargains. In-home detention, a jail sentence alternative, is not permitted in a domestic violence case if the victim lives in the same home. Any consideration of a probationary sentence for a person marked as a domestic violence offender requires the court to consider the victim’s safety. Under Colorado law prosecutors are only permitted to plea bargain away a domestic violence designation upon establishing for the court that that he or she could not prove a domestic violence case existed had the case gone to trial.

Since 2000 any person with three or more domestic violence enhanced convictions can be charged with a class five felony, carrying a presumptive prison term of one to three years in the state penitentiary and a possible fine of $1,000.00 to $100,000.00.

In Colorado, if you resolve your domestic violence case by entering into a plea bargain, or if you are convicted at trial, the court is required to sentence you to a state approved domestic violence treatment program that can last 18 months or more. State approved providers for domestic violence counseling are few and closely monitored by the Colorado Domestic Violence Offender Management Board. http://dcj.dvomb.state.co.us/

New legislation signed into law in Colorado in 2013 severely impacts gun ownership rights and now requires that anyone convicted of a domestic violence crime must surrender any firearms or ammunition that they own. This is true even if the conviction is a deferred sentence, a contractual plea agreement that allows convictions to be withdrawn later if certain requirements are met.

Gun ownership rights are also now restricted by mandatory provisions if the Court issues a civil permanent protection order (PPO) and when a mandatory protection order is issued as a condition of bond in a domestic violence case.

The change in Colorado law also requires that you must provide the Court with proof, within 24 hours of a domestic violence bond release or domestic violence conviction, showing that you have transferred your firearms and ammunition in compliance with Colorado law governing private firearm transfers, and which essentially means that the person to whom you transfer your firearms must pass a Colorado InstaCheck background check, although some police agencies have programs for storing firearms surrendered under the law.

Call Mertes Law now for a free consultation. You owe to it yourself and your family to understand your rights and to be represented by a qualified and experienced domestic violence attorney who will fight for you.

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