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Domestic Violence

What Is a Domestic Violence Crime?

In Colorado, domestic violence crimes are crimes committed against anyone who has had an intimate relationship with the defendant.  The domestic violence law creates a sentencing enhancement for felony and misdemeanor offenses committed against the person who the defendant has had an intimate relationship with.  This would include current and former spouses and dating partners.  If an act or threatened act of violence is committed against someone who has or had an intimate relationship with the defendant, it is always considered to be domestic violence.  However, if it is a different type of crime such as theft or destruction of property, the act must have been committed for purposes of intimidating, punishing, or frightening the victim. 

What Are Some Examples of Domestic Violence?

If someone physically strikes their dating partner during a heated argument, it will qualify as a domestic violence offense because violence was actually used.  If someone slashes their ex’s tires because ex is dating someone else, that would also be considered a domestic violence offense.  It may not be a crime against the person, but the act was committed against a former dating partner as punishment for dating someone else.  Therefore, even if there was no threat of physical harm to the ex it would still qualify as a domestic violence offense and the prosecution can pursue a domestic violence sentencing enhancement for the property crime.

Are Protection Orders Issued in Domestic Violence Cases?

Police, prosecutors, and judges take domestic violence cases very seriously.  Even if they are only charged as misdemeanor offenses, the court may issue a protection order that requires the defendant to stay away from the alleged victim.  If the defendant and victim were living together, the order may require the defendant to move out in order to comply with the stay away provision. In many cases, protection orders are will be issued even if the alleged victim does not want a protective order or wants to have contact with the defendant.  Protection orders can contain conditions that the accused refrain from using alcohol or drugs, prohibit others from contacting the victim on the defendant’s behalf, and require that the defendant maintain a certain distance from the victim.  If a protection order is issued in a domestic violence case, the defendant will also be prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm while the protection order is in place.  A violation of a protection order can lead to arrest and new charges for violation of the order. 

Can a Protection Order Be Modified in a Domestic Violence Case?

If a protection order is issued that does not allow the defendant to have contact with the victim, it can still be modified.  Courts have a lot of discretion in the conditions they impose in a protection order.  Courts do not always have to issue an order requiring no contact.  They can limit contact to phone, text, or email, and courts can also allow in person contact for purposes of exchanging custody of children.  Courts can also allow for full contact as long as the defendant does not harass or intimidate the victim during that contact.  The Court will usually consider the seriousness of the allegations, the defendant’s criminal history, and recommendation from the prosecution when determining what conditions to impose.  The court will also consider the victim’s position, but the court will often issue strict conditions over the victim’s objection if they feel it is necessary. 

Call Ben LaBranche if You Have Been Charged with a Domestic Violence Crime.

If you are charged with a domestic violence crime, you need to have a good criminal defense attorney.  Often times the allegations are false, the victim may change their story about what happened, or they may just want to drop the charges.  However, it is very common for the prosecution to pursue domestic violence charges despite the victim requesting that they be dismissed. Even misdemeanor domestic violence convictions can have serious consequences such as jail, immigration consequences, and prohibiting firearm ownership.  There is also stigma attached to a domestic violence case that could impact the ability to secure future employment and housing.  Therefore, all domestic violence cases need to be taken seriously and handled by an experienced attorney.  Ben LaBranche is an experienced attorney who has handled hundreds of domestic violence cases and can help if you have been arrested. 

If you have been arrested for a domestic violence offense, call Ben LaBranche at (225) 927-5495 for help with your case.

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