What You Need to Know About Colorado Domestic Violence Laws
No one deserves to feel unsafe in their own home. Domestic violence is traumatic and can be incredibly destabilizing. It is important to be aware of your rights as a victim and of what resources might be available to you. Here’s what you need to know about domestic violence laws in Colorado.
In Colorado, domestic violence is not a separate crime, but modifies a sentence for an existing violent act. More than three domestic violent convictions can lead to Colorado classifying an individual as a habitual domestic violence offender, which makes future domestic violence crimes felonies.
Domestic Violence in Colorado
In Colorado, domestic violence is defined as an “act, or threatened act, of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.” An intimate relationship means a relationship between current or former spouses, current or former unmarried couples, and parents of the same child, regardless of how long they have been married or have lived together.
Domestic violence is not treated as an independent offense but as a sentencing enhancement or aggravator for the underlying violent act. It applies to any offense committed against current or former spouses or intimate partners. When a crime involves domestic violence, the court will sentence the defendant for the offense but also require the defendant to complete a domestic violence treatment program and receive a treatment evaluation.
Related: Domestic Violence During COVID-19
Penalties for Repeat Domestic Violence Offenders
A defendant who has three prior convictions for crimes involving domestic violence and is convicted of a new offense involving domestic violence faces additional penalties. The prosecutor may petition the court to have the defendant declared a habitual domestic violence offender. If someone commits a misdemeanor that classifies them as a habitual domestic violence offender, that misdemeanor will become a Class 5 felony.
Additional domestic violence crimes include:
- Assault and battery
- Disorderly conduct
- Witness intimidation
- Sexual assault
Colorado Domestic Violence Protection
There are three types of domestic violence protection orders in Colorado:
- Temporary (ex parte) protection orders—these can be issued if the judge believes you are in immediate danger.
- Permanent protection orders—after you attend court for a temporary protection order, the judge can either extend the temporary protection order or grant a permanent protection order.
- Emergency protection orders—local law enforcement can request these based on the belief that an adult or minor child is in immediate and present danger of domestic violence.
Violating a protective order is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Colorado.
Colorado Domestic Violence Resources
There is a broad range of resources available for domestic violence victims and survivors in Colorado. Violence Free Colorado provides information for several domestic violence programs, advocacy services, emergency shelter and financial support services, and support groups. A map of Colorado’s domestic violence programs can be found here. Colorado’s Department of Human Services also has a list of domestic violence advocacy, prevention, and intervention programs.
FAQs About Domestic Violence Laws in Colorado
Does Colorado fast-track domestic violence cases?
Yes, domestic violence cases in Colorado are fast-tracked, meaning that the police fill out a report on the same day as the arrest and the defendant enters an initial plea during the first court hearing. This procedure protects victims from further abusive behavior and gets them out of an unsafe situation as quickly as possible.
Will domestic violence charges lead to an abuser losing their gun rights in Colorado?
Domestic violence defendants generally cannot possess firearms with a restraining order against them. Additionally, a felony or violent misdemeanor conviction will lead to a permanent loss of gun rights in Colorado.
Is domestic violence deportable if the abuser is a non-citizen in Colorado?
Yes, domestic violence is usually a deportable offense for non-citizens in Colorado.