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"Domestic Violence"? What does it mean?

One interesting area of domestic violence law is the domestic violence designation itself. Most people have a tough time wrapping their head around the term "Domestic Violence." This is more common when the charges associated with the domestic violence filing are not violent charges. The legislature has defined "Domestic Violence" in the Colorado Revised Statutes Title 18, Article 6, Part 8 as "an act or threatened act upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. "Domestic violence" also includes any other crime against a person, or against property, including an animal, or any municipal ordinance violation against a person, or against property, including an animal, when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship."

Basically, what the legislature is saying is that any crime committed against an intimate partner or a former intimate partner is "Domestic Violence." The effect of this definition by the legislature on anyone charged with a offense involving their intimate partner, is that their case will be labeled as "Domestic Violence," regardless of whether there was any violent act or not. The label of "Domestic Violence" on a case has a very specific effect. It is what is known as a "sentence enhancer." What this means to anyone charged with a domestic violence crime, is that if they plead guilty or are found guilty at trial of any crime labeled as domestic violence, they will be required to take a minimum 36 week course for domestic violence treatment. It is a long and arduous process and must certainly be considered when negotiating any plea agreement or considering going to trial.

This concept is one that must be understood at the onset of any domestic violence case, and as a lawyer who handles many of these, one that must be fully explained to any client facing this type of charge.

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