Colorado’s complex laws can cause complications for those accused of domestic violence. Even if the victim wants to drop domestic violence charges, a judge can’t stop the case from being prosecuted.
This means that for a domestic violence case, only the state prosecutor can decide whether or not to dismiss domestic violence cases. Sometimes, the alleged victim will try to recant their statements. While the prosecutor may make note of this, they will still proceed with the case.
Despite Colorado’s strict domestic violence laws, it is possible to defend yourself with the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. If you are facing domestic violence charges, you should get an attorney on your side to help clear your good name.
What You Need to Know About Domestic Violence Laws in Colorado
According to Title 18. Criminal Code § 18-6-800.3, domestic violence is considered an act of violence against a person with whom the suspected aggressor currently has or previously had an intimate relationship. The definition of ‘intimate relationship’ according to this law pertains to current and former spouses; current and former unmarried couples’ and parents of the same child, whether they have a formal relationship or not.
It is not required to live under the same roof with someone or have sexual relations with them to be accused of domestic violence charges. Friends, coworkers, and roommates aren’t considered as an intimate relationship unless their relations intersect in the areas listed above.
Domestic violence doesn’t always involve physical or sexual abuse either. You can be charged with domestic violence for financial abuse when controlling someone else’s actions with money. This charge can also be applied for technological abuse from abusive messages or phone calls, or for emotional abuse through verbal harassment.
How Colorado Domestic Violence Charges Work
Domestic violence charges aren’t an independent crime in Colorado. They are considered a sentencing aggravator which increases the penalty for other offenses. Crimes involving domestic violence in this regard are often assault, harassment, restraining order violation, stalking, elder abuse, criminal mischief, and sexual assault.
Therefore, the penalties for a person facing domestic violence will depend on this underlying charge. If you receive a domestic violence conviction, you may need to attend a treatment program as part of the penalty.
Being charged with domestic violence more than once will mean tougher penalties. For example, if you have been charged for a fourth domestic violence incident, you may be labeled as a habitual offender which is a class V felony. Under these circumstances, that comes with a prison sentence.
Colorado’s Mandatory Arrest Laws
Colorado is a mandatory arrest state which means that once the alleged victim calls the police to report domestic violence, it is out of their hands. A police officer must make an arrest in these situations.
While it is designed to prevent a potential aggressor from harming the victim again, it can be problematic for those that are falsely accused of domestic violence. This arrest will stay on your record, even if those domestic violence charges are eventually dropped by the prosecutor.
Reporting Laws for Domestic Violence in Colorado
Since 2018, the time allowed to report domestic violence in Colorado has increased. Now, alleged victims have six years to file a domestic violence report. Should the alleged victim be considered seriously disabled, they may be permitted up to twenty years to make this report.
The laws were created in this way to protect those that were severely hurt and traumatized due to the violent actions of someone intimate in their lives. However, this extension of time also makes it easier for someone to use ill intent to make false allegations and damage your reputation.
How Do Domestic Violence Charges Get Dropped in Denver?
In order to drop domestic violence charges, it all comes down to the prosecutor. The prosecutor can be instrumental in domestic violence cases if they don’t believe you are guilty. They can also drop domestic violence charges if they think it will be hard to get a conviction.
The prosecutor in a domestic violence case is bound by obligation to proceed with it unless they think it is impossible to win. They may drop the charges if there is a lack of physical evidence, serious inconsistencies in the victim’s statement, lack of injuries, or evidence that supports you as the alleged aggressor.
When a victim recants their statement, it doesn’t cause the prosecutor to drop the domestic violence charges. However, it can result in a decision that is more in your favor that could get your domestic violence charges dropped.
How to Drop Charges in Domestic Violence Cases
Your best defense against these kinds of allegations will come from working with a law office that represents those accused of a criminal offense. Ideally, an attorney that has been able to prove in court that there is not enough evidence and a lack of defensive injuries will help you avoid punishment.
Dismissal of Underlying Charges
One of the most common ways a criminal defense attorney can come to your aid is through the dismissal of the underlying charge. As an example, if you are charged with sexual assault, your attorney can present evidence of your alibi or argue false accusations for a crime involving domestic violence. If the prosecutor dismisses your underlying charge, the domestic violence enhancement that was imposed will automatically expire.
Charges Dropped by Disproving an Intimate Relationship
One mandatory requirement for a domestic violence charge is that an intimate relationship must exist. Other evidence can be used to show that there is the absence of an intimate relationship with the person accused of these crimes.
This can be shown through eyewitness testimony, videos, and correspondence. However, if the prosecutor drops domestic violence enhancements in cases like these, the underlying charge still remains.
What Can Happen to the Falsely Accused?
Because of the changes for domestic violence charges, many people in Colorado are facing jail time, fines, and a slew of serious penalties for crimes they didn’t commit. The police can now more easily make arrests in these scenarios. However, if you are falsely accused by someone, even if you are exonerated and your charges are dropped, that arrest will still appear on your record.
With a criminal record, any employer or other entity that does a background check will see your arrest record. There will be no notations that the domestic violence charges were dropped or that you were deemed not guilty in court. Anyone that runs a background check on you may judge you harshly for it and it could impact your ability to get a good job.
You may be able to get your arrest records expunged, but you may not be eligible depending on the accusations and arrest, even if you were found innocent.
What Can You Do to Drop Domestic Violence Charges?
In Colorado, it is imperative that if you’ve been charged with domestic violence, you must take action. An experienced criminal defense attorney like those at Weber Law can help maximize your chance of having these charges dropped and help you keep your reputation intact.