Domestic Violence Under the Laws of Colorado
The following article describes some of the difficulties that arise under Colorado’s harsh domestic violence.*
The following describes what will, or may have already happened to you if someone,and it need not be your intimate partner, reports you for domestic violence.
1. Once made, a 911 call cannot be cancelled. The police must respond. If the phone is hung up after dialing, the emergency response team willc all back. If no answer, or foul play is suspected, and it almost always is, the police will respond to investigate.
If you interfere with a person making a 911 call you can be charged with a felony in Colorado.
Note that a woman may obtain the same results as dialing 911 by going to a hospital, a doctor, or going to the police station. If you call foran ambulance, the police will likely arrive first and investigate with a presumption of domestic violence.
2. The police will enter your home and search for evidence of violence without a warrant.
3. An arrest must be made if domestic violence is alleged by anyone calling 911, or is inferred by the police or dispatcher C.R.S.§ 18-6-803.6 whether or not the caller is involved in the alleged incident. Once the police arrive, one or both of the parties will be arrested, although almost invariably it is only the male. If children are present, they may be placed in foster care or left in the care of the female, even when the male has been defending the children against the woman.
4. You cannot be released, i.e., a summons issued in lieu of arrest, at the scene of the alleged crime C.R.S.§ 16-3-105 when domestic violence is involved.
5. If one of the parties should seek medical treatment after a dispute then doctors and hospitals are required C.R.S.§ 12-36-135 to report the case to the police. However, if the victim is male that often isn’t done. Once reported, the other party in the dispute will be arrested regardless of any physical evidence. The statements of the party seeking medical aid will not be questioned before the trial. Medical evidence and prior history of the accuser, e.g., alcoholism, mental instability, or pre-existing medical problems of the “victim” will probably be suppressed by the prosecution during a trial.
6. Once arrested, you will be held in jail for an indefinite period usually without an opportunity to post bail before appearing before a magistrate. Since domestic disputes often occur on a Friday evening,this commonly means a weekend in jail and almost always at least a night.
7. You will eventually be given a hearing before a magistrate or judge.If(?) you have been released on bail before the hearing, you must show up in court or you will lose all future rights. It is strongly recommended that you plead not guilty at the hearing. Neither the court nor the district attorney can dismiss the case regardless of how ridiculous the charges may seem against you. Do not try and make any statement other than “Not Guilty.” The court may require a bond or release you on your own recognizance. If you have previously posted a bond and you are released on your own recognizance you may ask to have the bond lifted.
You may be able to have some terms of the automatic restraining order against you lifted or modified at the hearing, e.g., the no contact order may be lifted so that you can go home again, depending on the circumstances.
- An order to vacate or stay away from the home of the victim and to stay away from any other location where the victim is likely to be found;
- An order to refrain from contact or direct or indirect communication with the victim;
- An order prohibiting possession or control of firearms or other weapons;
- An order prohibiting possession or consumption of alcohol or controlled substances; and
- Any other order the court deems appropriate to protect the safety of the alleged victim.
9. From the time the restraining order is imposed until it is cleared from all databases it is a violation of Federal Law 18U.S.C. § 922(g)(8 and 9) to purchase, acquire, or be in possession of firearms or other dangerous weapons, e.g., swords, grenades, explosives, ammunition, etc. This is a felony with a mandatory minimum of 5 years in prison if convicted.
Collectors items are held to be in this category as well. “In possession” generally means in the same room as, or in close proximity to. If you are visiting a friend and they have a gun collection, you are in violation and could be sentenced to five years (minimum) in prison.
Thus, if you have a gun collection, swords, etc., have a friend or relative collect them for you and remove them to storage in a place you do not have access to until after you are sure the restraining order has been lifted and your name removed from the state and federal databases. That will usually require a separate motion to the court or personally carrying a copy of the court order of dismissal to a Colorado Bureau of Investigation office.
As a safety measure you should have a gun dealer run a check on you after the order is dismissed to be absolutely sure your name has been removed from all databases.
10. If, at any time, you violate any of the terms of therestraining order, however inadvertently, you will be put in jail. Since the restraining order requires you to stay a minimum distance from her, if she sees you in a shopping mall, or you pass her on a highway, you may have violated the restraining order and will be jailed. So make absolutely sure you keep clear of her. If you are living in the same town, you are in extreme danger of this kind of harassment from her, and it is reported to be happening ever more frequently. If there are multiple offenses against the restraining order the law requires that the sentences be served consecutively.
11. The District Attorney cannot dismiss a domestic violence case or plea bargain it to anything that does not involve domestic violence C.R.S.§ 18-6-801 (3). Realistically, the only way you can clear your record of a domestic violence charge is to go through a jury trial.
12. If you plead guilty, nolo contendre (no contest),or are convicted, the restraining order you signed may be made permanent, a lifetime sentence. Be aware that the law forbids any plea bargain that does not involve pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge unless the DA can represent to the Judge that he/she cannot prove domestic violence under the law (a very rare occurrence).
The punishment is virtually certain to include 36 weeks of therapy that you will have to pay for. And even if you are found guilty at trial the punishment will be the same as if you pled guilty.
13. You will be placed on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) C.R.S. § 18-6-803.7 and the FBI’s National Instant Check System for life based solely on the arrest record unless you can prove yourself innocent and then take extraordinary steps to have your name removed. Under Federal law you will never again be able to own, possess, or control a weapon or any dangerous instrument such as explosives 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(8). However, that will not be explained to you by the local court or prosecutor.
14. A conviction on a charge of domestic violence will probably mean loss of your job if you work in a profession that requires use of firearms, explosives, or other dangerous agents. Such a conviction will probably also deny you a security clearance or financial bond. Medical doctors with such convictions often find they cannot continue to practice medicine.
15. If you are an immigrant, or in the United States on a visa, once convicted of domestic violence you may be deported. Under a 1996 federal law, that ruling applies whether you plead guilty, no contest, plea bargain, or accept a deferred judgement. The law requiring deportation also applies to a wide range of crimes ranging from manslaughter to misdemeanor drunken driving, as well as domestic violence.
16. If you plead guilty, no contest, or are convicted, every time a police officer or other government official has occasion to check your background, for example during a routine traffic stop, you will appear on their database as having a domestic violence or abuse restraining order against you. Even if proven innocent, and you have not taken expensive and time consuming measures to have your name removed, your name will remain on these databases. Such information will be available even if you are cleared should you require a security clearance or a financial bond. Job reference checks on CO court will also show you have a record so it may be difficult to get new employment.
17. If at any point after a restraining order is granted, when accosted by a police officer and you are in the company of the person who has the restraining order against you, with or without that person’s permission to be there, you will< be arrested. For example, you and your wife may have quarreled and you pled no contest to get it over with. You and your wife then get back together but don’t bother, or can’t afford attorney fees to get the record cleared. You are breaking the terms of the restraining order and you will be arrested if stopped by the police.