Breckenridge Domestic Violence AttorneyClick For A Free Consultation
Colorado is a mandatory arrest state. If police respond to a call for a dispute and determine that a crime occurred between two people who are currently romantically involved or were once romantically involved, they must arrest the person or people they believe committed the crime. It is the romantic involvement, no matter how short the relationship, that determines whether domestic violence occurred. This means that even property crimes like minor criminal mischief are domestic violence. Before being bonded out, the arrested person must see a judge. This means that if you are arrested on a Friday, it is likely that you will not see a judge until at least Monday.
You need an experienced attorney immediately after you have been arrested. I am attorney J.B. Katz, and I have represented people accused of domestic violence and other serious crimes for over 20 years. I will help you assert your rights and protect you from the serious consequences that may result from a conviction.
Domestic Violence Enhancement
In Colorado, domestic violence can be charged alongside any criminal charges, referred to as the domestic violence enhancement. This includes crimes committed against pets or actions taken that damage someone’s property. If the alleged victim has an intimate relationship with the person charged, a domestic violence enhancement can be added.
It’s important to note that domestic violence does not have to be physical or sexual in nature; domestic violence charges can include blackmail or cyber-stalking.
What is an Intimate Relationship?
In order to be charged with domestic violence, a person must have an intimate relationship with the alleged victim. In Colorado, there are very specific definitions of what an intimate relationship consists of. Some examples include a spouse or ex-spouse, a girlfriend/boyfriend or ex-girlfriend/ex-boyfriend, and a co-parent, including adoptive parents.
Even though roommates live together, that relationship is not considered an intimate relationship under Colorado law. It’s also not a requirement that the two individuals live under the same roof. If two people are involved in a sexual relationship, this will be considered an intimate relationship, though sexual involvement is not required.
Some of the most common domestic violence charges include stalking, assault, child abuse, harassment, sexual assault, and violating a restraining order.
Mandatory Arrest And Protective Orders
In addition to the mandatory arrest for domestic violence, Colorado requires a mandatory protection order (restraining order) be filed and effective immediately. This causes the individual accused of domestic violence to be excluded from the family home, regardless of who owns the property and does not allow any contact with the victim. Unlike some states that only enter a 72-hour order, these protective orders remain in place until the end of the case unless the judge modifies the order earlier.
A violation of this order is a violation of your bond and could result in a mandatory jail sentence of at least six months. This includes telephone contact, even if the other party initiates the call. It also includes any contact made on your behalf by a friend or family member.
The only person who can contact the alleged victim or their family before the court modifies the order is your lawyer. The court will provide a hearing to modify these conditions relatively quickly, but it is imperative that you abide by the restrictions until the court modifies them. I can file a motion to modify the restrictions quickly, usually within 24 hours from when you hire me.
Aggressive Defense And Representation Essential
Once you have retained me as your lawyer, I will provide immediate representation. First, I will file a motion to modify the protection order at a bond modification hearing. Do not contact the alleged victim or his or her family yourself or have anyone other than your attorney contact them on your behalf. Either I or the district attorney’s office will notify him or her of the hearing date and time. The alleged victim must be notified of the hearing and any attempts to modify the conditions of the restraining order. Additionally, the alleged victim must complete a safety plan that is required prior to any bond modifications. Of course, you will probably need to get clothes and essential items that you need to live your life until the court modifies the bond conditions. You can obtain these items by contacting the local sheriff’s department for a civil stand-by that will allow you to go to your home with an officer one time only to get these things. At a minimum, there could be as much as 10 to 14 days of no contact of any kind between you and the alleged victim. This could mean no contact with your children, too. And if the alleged victim objects to any changes in the order, you may not be able to get back into your home at all. I can work on your behalf to develop a modified protective order that is acceptable to both you and the alleged victim.
Common Legal Defenses
If you’re charged with domestic violence, it should be taken very seriously. Two of the most common legal defenses your lawyer can present to help you be successful in your defense include the following:
Self-Defense: If you and your lawyer can show that you were acting in self-defense, this is a valid legal strategy that could result in the charges being dismissed or you being found not guilty of the charges. Self-defense can be difficult to show, and it is considered an affirmative defense. This means the defense has to present some credible evidence to the court supporting the claim of self-defense before they’re allowed to argue it in court. Credible evidence includes many things, including testimony from the defendant, even if the testimony they provide is unlikely to be true.
False Accusations: Another valid legal defense is to argue that the alleged victim falsely accused the defendant. This can be done by providing evidence in order to shed doubt on the alleged victim’s story. This defense might include presenting video evidence, an alibi, or other witness testimony.
Some Domestic Violence Convictions can be Sealed
When a person is convicted of domestic violence, it can have a significant impact on their life. When landlords or employers run a background check, this negative information will show up. Domestic violence is not taken lightly, so this could prevent someone from living where they want to live, or prevent them from getting the job they want. If an individual is able to get their conviction sealed, this can make a huge difference.
In Colorado, the only types of domestic violence convictions that can be sealed are those that took place in municipal court. The information can be sealed 3 years after the conviction if there have not been any new arrests or any new charges. Other domestic violence convictions will remain on one’s record forever.
Any domestic violence charge that is dismissed can be sealed immediately.
Free Initial Consultation With a Breckenridge Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
Providing only criminal defense services, I am dedicated to protecting those charged with domestic violence in the Colorado mountains area. I am ready to assist clients who are not from the area with a “plea by mail,” so they may not have to return to the area for court. Please call my office at (970) 453-5533 or contact my office today for a free initial consultation.