CO Domestic Violence: Is It a Felony?

Accusations of domestic violence are, unfortunately, not a rare instance in Colorado. Many of the scenarios involving domestic violence occur in a mere moment. Once the police are called to the scene, it becomes the duty of law enforcement to try to understand what happened and deescalate, ensuring everyone is safe.

However, that’s why once the ball starts to roll on a domestic violence case, it can rarely be stopped – even if the victim doesn’t want to press charges. And domestic violence is regarded as a serious crime in the state, with weight penalties to back it up, especially in cases where it’s considered a felony.

Here’s what you need to know about domestic violence crimes in Colorado and in what circumstances these crimes can be elevated to a more serious felony charge that can drastically change your life forever.

Domestic Violence in Colorado

In the state of Colorado, domestic violence is not a standalone criminal offense. It is actually an enhancement that will increase the penalties for the underlying crime perpetrated.

A crime that is considered a domestic violence enhancement is perpetrated against someone with whom you are or have been in an intimate relationship. That can include marriage or simply dating. If they were the target of the crime that took place, you have opened yourself up to a domestic violence enhancement.

Felonies in Colorado

In many cases, if the underlying crime that involved domestic violence is a felony, then you’ll be charged with a felony domestic violence enhancement. This includes crimes such as:

  • First and second-degree assault
  • Child abuse with serious bodily injury
  • Stalking
  • False imprisonment for longer than 12 hours where threats or force were used
  • Menacing with the use of a deadly weapon or making the victim believe they had one
  • Unlawful sexual contact

Colorado Springs Domestic Violence Lawyer

Consequences of Domestic Violence Enhancements

In Colorado, if police have reason to believe person has committed a crime involving domestic violence, they must arrest them, due to the fact that this is a mandatory arrest state. What the victims say or even if they want to recant doesn’t matter if the police have probable cause.

Also, crimes involving a domestic violence enhancement will trigger a mandatory order of protection to be filed against the defendant. While this order is active, the defendant cannot contact the victim in any way. They also must not use alcohol.

If the protective order is violated, that is a separate misdemeanor charge that can carry with it fines of as much as $1,000 and up to one year of incarceration.

If found guilty of the crime, then the judge can extend the order of protection and compel the defendant to complete a treatment program specifically for domestic violence. That’s all on top of any penalties associated with the underlying crime, such as time in prison and additional fines.

Habitual Domestic Offenders

The court can also label a person as a habitual domestic offender if they have three prior convictions involving a domestic violence enhancement. Being a habitual offender is an additional Class 5 felony charge, which on its own can result in up to three years of incarceration and fines of as much as $100,000.

How to Defend Against Domestic Violence Enhancements

While domestic violence is not a standalone charge, you want to avoid its designation on your criminal record, which means you must work with your attorney to formulate a robust defense. If the person involved in the incident was not someone who should be considered an intimate partner, then that evidence needs to be presented to try to get the enhancement dropped from your case.

Of course, another defense you can use is to proclaim your innocence. If you can show that the incident was perpetrated by someone else or that the charges against you were fabricated, then that can work. Your attorney will need to support this line of defense with material evidence to support it, i.e. a credible alibi or evidence that demonstrates you were not at the scene of the crime.

You can also claim self-defense. Remember, you are allowed to use reasonable force to defend yourself from a threat. If that is what occurred, then your attorney can look for evidence to support your version of events and present it to the court.

No matter what line of defense you choose, you must work hard to preserve your rights in the situation. An experienced and skilled attorney at your side can help you accomplish this, so make sure to bring one on board when you are facing serious felony charges involving domestic violence.


About the Author:

Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.