Under Colorado law, the term of domestic violence is not a separate charge but is considered to be a sentence enhancer. If the defendant and the alleged victim are in an intimate relationship, as defined by statute, that relationship can trigger additional consequences to a defendant. These consequences can include domestic violence treatment, the issuance of restraining Orders and various bond conditions set by the Court.
In Colorado, domestic violence laws require mandatory arrest, meaning a Denver officer is usually required to arrest a suspect if he or she has reason to believe that suspect committed an act of domestic violence. Additionally, a domestic violence victim usually cannot drop charges against the abuser. Even if the victim doesn’t wish to press charges the district attorney has the discretion to decide whether or not the domestic violence case proceeds.
Anyone who acts intending to cause serious bodily injury to another and who actually causes serious bodily injury to someone can be charged with first-degree assault. This charge may or may not be characterized as domestic violence. As a domestic violence defense attorney near Denver can explain, someone can also be charged with first-degree assault for acting with extreme indifference to human life. This means knowingly engaging in behavior that creates a risk of death and which does, in fact, cause serious bodily harm to another. A Colorado resident can also be charged with domestic violence assault charges for intentionally and seriously disfiguring or disabling another person. (See definition of serious bodily injury.)
In Colorado, assaults and certain acts of domestic violence are classified as crimes of violence, which involve mandatory prison sentences upon conviction. In these serious cases, the judge is required to sentence the defendant to a minimum of the midpoint of the presumptive sentence range, which is five years for second-degree assault. Crimes of violence also include intentionally causing bodily harm to another with a deadly weapon and recklessly causing serious bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon. Intentionally drugging someone without his or her consent is also considered second-degree assault.
Colorado law defines third-degree assault charges as knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another. A domestic violence case involving third-degree assault is a Class 1 Misdemeanor with a minimum jail sentence of six months. This means someone who commits third-degree assault faces a possible penalty of serving a two-year sentence to county jail. A domestic violence lawyer can help explain what factors determine whether an assault charge is classified as the first, second or third degree.