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Domestic Violence Laws – A Closer Look

What follows is the actual Colorado Domestic Violence Sentencing Laws – my suggestion – always go to the source and read the actual law – it helps the person being investigated or a person charged to understand the law.. to gain some control over their case and their lives. H. Michael

18-6-801. Domestic Violence – Sentencing
    1. In addition to any sentence that is imposed upon a person for violation of any criminal law under this title, any person who is convicted of any crime, the underlying factual basis of which has been found by the court on the record to include an act of domestic violence, as defined in section 18-6-800.3 (1), or any crime against property, whether or not such crime is a felony.
      H. Michael’s Take: what this means is that ANY crime committed against someone with whom you have presently – or have in the past – had an intimate relationship – qualifies for the additional sentencing requirements of this law when such crime is 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 shall be ordered to complete a treatment program and a treatment evaluation that conform with the standards adopted by the domestic violence offender management board as required by section 16-11.8-103 (4), C.R.S.
      If an intake evaluation conducted by an approved treatment program provider discloses that sentencing to a treatment program would be inappropriate, the person shall be referred back to the court for alternative disposition.
    2. The court may order a treatment evaluation to be conducted prior to sentencing if a treatment evaluation would assist the court in determining an appropriate sentence. The person ordered to undergo such evaluation shall be required to pay the cost of the treatment evaluation. If such treatment evaluation recommends treatment, and if the court so finds, the person shall be ordered to complete a treatment program that conforms with the standards adopted by the domestic violence offender management board as required by section 16-11.8-103 (4), C.R.S.
      H. Michael’s Take: This is the law that mandates a domestic violence evaluation and treatment that follows the standards outlined by the Colorado Sex Offender Management Board.
    3. Nothing in this subsection (1) shall preclude the court from ordering domestic violence treatment in any appropriate case.
  1. Subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to persons sentenced to the department of corrections.
    H. Michael’s Take: this section means if you go to prison – you DON’T have to do the treatment– (obviously)
  2. A person charged with the commission of a crime, the underlying factual basis of which includes an act of domestic violence as defined in section 18-6-800.3 (1), shall not be entitled to plead guilty or plead nolo contendere to an offense which does not include the domestic violence designation required in section 16-21-103, C.R.S.,
    H. Michael’s Take: This is the law that if a case involves domestic violence – the plea bargain cannot remove this aspect of the case by agreement of the defense and the prosecutor unless the prosecuting attorney makes a good faith representation on the record that such attorney would not be able to establish a prima facie case that the person and the alleged victim were currently or formerly involved in an intimate relationship if the defendant were brought to trial on the original domestic violence offense and upon such a finding by the court. The prosecuting attorney’s record and the court’s findings shall specify the relationship in the alleged domestic violence case which the prosecuting attorney is not able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt and the reasons therefor. No court shall accept a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to an offense which does not include the domestic violence designation required in section 16-21-103, C.R.S., when the facts of the case indicate that the underlying factual basis includes an act of domestic violence as defined in section 18-6-800.3 (1) unless there is a good faith representation by the prosecuting attorney that he or she would be unable to establish a prima facie case if the defendant were brought to trial on the original offense.
    H. Michael’s Take: This law requires the District Attorney represent – before the Judge – that the case does not meet the requirements of an act of domestic violence. The DA will not do this unless it is a fact – as the DA is an “officer of the court” and he/she will not lie or misrepresent the truth to the Court…. it is rare for the DA to make this representation to the Judge.
  3. No person accused or convicted of a crime, the underlying factual basis of which has been found by the court on the record to include an act of domestic violence, as defined in section 18-6-800.3 (1), shall be eligible for home detention in the home of the victim pursuant to section 18-1.3-105 or 18-1.3-106 or for deferred prosecution pursuant to section 18-1.3-101. Nothing in this subsection (4) is intended to prohibit a court from ordering a deferred sentence for a person accused or convicted of a crime, the underlying factual basis of which has been found by the court on the record to include an act of domestic violence, as defined in section 18-6-800.3 (1).
    H. Michael’s Take: This law removes the sentencing option of a home detention sentence with the victim (for pretty obvious reasons) but it also takes away a plea agreement – called a deferred prosecution – as a possible plea agreement in Colorado Domestic Violence Cases – the reason for this is that it is a plea agreement that does not compel a plea of guilt from the accused.
  4. Before granting probation, the court shall consider the safety of the victim and the victim’s children if probation is granted.
  5. Nothing in this section shall preclude the ability of a municipality to enact concurrent ordinances.
Colorado’s Habitual Domestic Violence Law
  1. In the event a person is convicted in this state on or after July 1, 2000, of any offense which would otherwise be a misdemeanor, the underlying factual basis of which has been found by the court on the record to include an act of domestic violence as defined in section 18-6-800.3 (1), and that person has been three times previously convicted, upon charges separately brought and tried and arising out of separate and distinct criminal episodes, of a felony or misdemeanor or municipal ordinance violation, the underlying factual basis of which was found by the court on the record to include an act of domestic violence, the prosecuting attorney may petition the court to adjudge the person an habitual domestic violence offender, and such person shall be convicted of a class 5 felony. If the person is adjudged an habitual domestic violence offender, the court shall sentence the person pursuant to the presumptive range set forth in section 18-1.3-401 for a class 5 felony. The former convictions and judgments shall be set forth in apt words in the indictment or information.

H. Michael’s Take: This is the law that mandates an enhancement of the sentence in a misdemeanor domestic violence case – taking it to the Felony level – with a mandatory sentence of between one and four years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.. As well as any other lawful Felony sentence… ( it does not mandate a prison sentence – it only makes a prison sentence a possibility for the Court in sentencing.

Subsections (1)(a) and (1)(b) were amended in a 2009 act with an effective date of August 5, 2009.

Please Note

Our Denver, Colorado based firm at the Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm is known for our effective legal strategies, which we customize to each case so that we can secure the best outcome possible. Depending on the specifics of your criminal case, there may be motions that we can file to suppress certain evidence or get the charges against you reduced or dismissed. If warranted, we may be able to reach a plea agreement with prosecutors. We will aggressively defend you in court if your case goes to trial.

Do NOT talk to anyone in law enforcement until you’ve retained the services of a Colorado criminal defense lawyer. Call the Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm at 303-627-7777 or contact us online.

Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm serves criminal defendants in the Greater Denver area and in other cities and counties throughout Colorado. Our law offices are located on I-25 at Arapahoe Road – adjacent to an RTD Light Rail stop.

H. Michel is available for consultation after hours and on weekends.

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