Major Changes in 2010 to Colorado’s Domestic Violence Laws

There are major changes going into effect in the fall which must be taken into consideration in defending against charges of domestic violence as a direct result of changes to certain changes to the so called Standards for Treatment set forth by the Colorado Domestic Violence Offender Management Board.

Understanding these changes is critical to making a reasoned decision to either plea bargaining a charge of domestic violence or taking the case to trial.

Domestic Violence New Standards

Discussing these new developments with a seasoned Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer will be important to individuals charged with domestic violence related crimes in Colorado.

The present law provides for a mandatory, non-negotiable, 36 weeks of treatment utilizing the presently drafted Colorado domestic violence guidelines.

In comparison, the new guidelines will make the length of the program subject to an “assessment of a Multidisciplinary Treatment Team (MTT)”.

The team will consist of therapists that are approved by the state of Colorado, the responsible criminal justice agency, and a victim’s advocate. The therapist would have the responsibility to make recommendations to the court about the need for continued treatment, the level of treatment required, and the assessment of its success.

The “team approach” and potentially long course of treatment, domestic violence offenders are no longer allowed to address their marital problems through joint family counseling while they are still undergoing court-ordered domestic violence treatment.

Furthermore, a Colorado domestic violence offender will be required to pass certain competency tests in order to successfully end their treatment. According to the new guidelines the criteria for demonstrating “competency” include full acceptance of responsibility for their criminal behavior.

H. Michael’s take: The new standards greatly expand on the role of the therapist in deciding the treatment modality… the nature of the treatment modality and the time required for termination of treatment..

For this reason, the new standards are more similar to the Colorado Sex Offender Standards for treatment are based almost entirely on community safety and the “containment” model.

The Full Acceptance Model

This requirement is full of pitfalls as domestic violence cases rarely have either party telling the complete truth for what occurs. To compel “full acceptance” of every allegation made by the alleged “victim” of a DV charge is setting the client up to fail.

If you have recently been charged with an act of domestic violence it is very important to understand the effect of these new standards on your potential success on probation — that is the likelihood of successfully completing Colorado Domestic Violence treatment In making the decision of whether or not to take a plea bargain — the client’s potential success on probation is a key component in this decision.

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