The Impact of a Plea to Domestic Violence in Colorado
Colorado has some of the most onerous domestic violence penalties in the country. While many domestic violence cases are charged as misdemeanors, no one should think that such a charge is a minor event. The consequences of even a deferred judgment can be overwhelming.
Domestic violence in Colorado is not a criminal charge in itself. It is an enhancer to another offense, such as assault or menacing. Depending on the circumstances, the underlying charges can range from felonies to low-level misdemeanors to municipal code violations. But with domestic violence allegations laid over the underlying offense, the charge carries more stringent sentencing requirements.
For example, even when entering a deferred judgment for domestic violence, the offender will be ordered to complete a domestic violence evaluation and complete a certified counseling program. Based on factors such as one’s criminal history, whether a weapon was used or brandished, or whether alcohol or drugs were involved, the defendant will be placed into one of three categories of treatment with the levels increasing in duration depending on the seriousness of the event and the defendant’s background. The defendant is responsible for paying for the cost of this treatment.
If drugs or alcohol were involved, the defendant may also be ordered to complete substance abuse counseling, on top of the domestic violence counseling, and, again, at the defendant’s cost.
Under both Colorado and federal law, the offender will have to give up any firearms and ammunition that he or she may possess. Under federal law, a conviction for a domestic violence offense carries a lifetime ban on firearms and ammunition. This can be particularly devastating for law enforcement and military personnel who may find their careers jeopardized by this penalty. Violating this penalty results in a new set of separate charges and could involve federal charges.
Colorado requires a mandatory protection order to be in place for the duration of the case to protect the victims of domestic violence. Such an order will be in place until the offender completes a deferred judgment or probation or is incarcerated. The effect of this order of protection is that one will not be able to contact one’s spouse or significant other and likely one’s children during the duration of the case without supervision and a court order.
The practical consequence of an order of protection is that the offender cannot live in his or her home if that is where the victim lives. Further, one must typically remain 100 yards away from the victim at all times, no matter where. Even if one’s spouse wants to communicate during this time, the offender cannot without the court’s permission. And, as is the case with the firearm restriction, violating an order of protection brings new and different charges. Violating such orders results in arrest and incarceration.
Often, the victim of domestic violence will pursue an additional order of protection civilly. Such an order is particularly troubling because it does not end at the end of one’s case. It is permanent and one cannot seek to amend the order for four years.
Conditions of probation or of a deferred sentence will almost assuredly require abstinence from alcohol and marijuana.
These are just some of the consequences of guilty plea and even a deferred sentence in a domestic violence situation. But, other consequences outside the prosecution often occur. Two common consequences affect one’s employment and divorce proceedings.
A conviction, even if deferred, will appear in public records. Convictions cannot be sealed. A deferral can only be sealed after the offender successfully completes the probationary period and has the case dismissed. The public posting of domestic violence cases creates serious consequences for accused’s current employment and ability to find new employment.
Where the victim seeks a divorce as a result of the domestic violence, the victim will be able to use the charge against the defendant regarding custody of children. Having such are charge before the court will negatively affect one’s ability to co-parent children.
These are some of the consequences of being convicted or pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge in Colorado. If you are charged with a domestic violence offense in Colorado, The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., can help you build an aggressive defense that protects your rights and fights for the best possible outcome in your case. For a confidential consultation, call us today at (719) 475-2555.