Ms. Briggs has years of experience representing individuals in Colorado domestic violence cases, and dozens of trials taken to verdict. Ms. Briggs has achieved too many dismissals on these matters to count.
Domestic violence cases are complicated, and any person accused of committing an act of domestic violence must quickly protect themselves by hiring an experienced lawyer. In these cases there are bond issues, sentencing matters, and collateral consequences to address. There are also issues surrounding the Victim’s Rights Act and Mandatory Protection Orders that may need to be addressed.
Domestic violence itself is not a crime, but rather a sentence enhancer that subjects a defendant to unique sentencing laws in Colorado. Typical crimes charged as acts of domestic violence include:
Usually the charging document will provide notice to the accused of domestic violence charges. However, it is not always clear to a person with no experience with the criminal justice system to know if they have been accused of an act of domestic violence.
“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.
“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.
An act of domestic violence in Colorado does not need to involve an accusation of physical violence. Domestic violence can include damage against property. In fact, an act of domestic violence could apply even if you damage your own property.
The Criminal Mischief statute includes damage to “property owned by the person jointly with another person or property owned by the person in which another person has a possessory or proprietary interest.” Some overly aggressive prosecutors charge an act of domestic violence when marital property is damaged, such as a husband breaking his own cellphone, even when the property was not used by the alleged victim.
In Colorado, an act of domestic violence does not require a sexual relationship between the defendant and the accuser. It requires an “intimate relationship” which requires the court to look at:
(1) the length of time the relationship has existed, or did exist
(2) the nature or type of the relationship
(3) the frequency of interaction between the parties (See People v. Disher, 224 P.3d 254, 258 (Colo. 2010).
It is not always clear if a crime is an act of domestic violence. The court considers the nature of the relationship between the accused and the alleged victim, as well as the reason the crime was committed.