What Are the Colorado Domestic Violence Laws?

Domestic violence is a type of violence between two people involved in an intimate relationship. While this is most often between romantic partners, domestic violence can also occur between members who live in the same household; for example, if an adult child caring for their elderly parent abused them, this could be considered domestic violence. 

Here's what you should know about domestic violence cases and how to protect yourself against criminal charges. 

What Is a Domestic "Act of Violence?" 

Most people consider a domestic act of violence to be one partner hitting, striking, pushing, or otherwise hurting the other partner. However, domestic violence case law covers harm and harassment that goes far beyond simple physical assault and includes verbal abuse, emotional abuse, false imprisonment, and more. 

For example, one of the most common but least often discussed acts of violence is coercion control punishment, sometimes referred to as coercion control or control punishment. According to America's Conference to End Coercive Control (ACECC), coercion control is defined as "a pattern of behavior that unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty and includes, among other things, unreasonably isolating a victim from friends, relatives, or other sources of support." 

This vague definition leaves a great deal of room for interpretation and requires little hard evidence other than the testimony of the victim, who may or may not have an ulterior motive. In many cases, people will seek to use domestic abuse accusations to get revenge on someone else or gain control over them in a particular situation, such as in a breakup or divorce.

What Is the Statute of Limitations on Domestic Violence Cases? 

Survivors of domestic abuse can seek monetary damages from the person who harmed them. Medical expenses, cost of therapy and psychiatric care, and lost wages can all be reimbursed to victims of domestic violence.

In the past, DV victims were required to submit a civil claim within a year of the alleged abuse incident, and if they missed this window, they no longer had the ability to pursue a claim against their alleged abuser. However, the State of Colorado voted to give domestic violence claims their own statute of limitations, separate from non-domestic harassment or assault charges. As of 2018, the statute of limitations for domestic-related assault, stalking, etc., has a six-year statute of limitations. 

If a person is disabled or allegedly becomes handicapped as a result of the supposed incidence of violence, Colorado domestic violence laws give them even longer than six years to file a compensation claim.

The law defines this type of disability as: 

  • A severe Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) 
  • Behavioral or mental health conditions, including post-traumatic stress and personality disorders 
  • An intellectual or developmental disability 

Colorado's statute of limitations in these cases is 20 years. 

These newly expanded laws make it more difficult for people falsely accused of domestic violence to fight the allegations against them. For example, if a person accuses someone else of domestic violence 15 years after the supposed occurrence, there's likely to be little evidence left beyond the testimony of each party involved. This can make it challenging for the person accused to obtain compelling evidence that can be used for a defense. 

What Is the Colorado Mandatory Arrest Policy? 

Colorado is one of the few U.S. states that mandates that suspects of domestic violence be arrested. In most other states, it is at the officer's discretion to investigate an incident to assess the situation and make the call if it warrants removing someone from the home to prevent additional harm to others. 

In Colorado, however, police officers are obligated to make an arrest if they have probable cause to suspect domestic abuse has occurred.

Police use five criteria to determine if a domestic violence report is likely to be legitimate: revenge, control, coercion, intimidation, and punishment. If an investigating officer has any reason to believe that one or more of these criteria have been met, they are legally required to arrest the suspect.

While these indicators were intended to provide law enforcement officials with the resources they needed to protect victims of domestic assault, they instead created ambiguities that make it difficult to determine which threats are legitimate and how to proceed in either case. Because it's generally better for police to err on the side of caution, this has become a near-automatic arrest policy that leads to numerous wrongful arrests and false accusations.

How a Colorado Domestic Violence Restraining Order Can Affect You 

As a suspect involved in a domestic assault case, you may have a restraining order taken out on you. Restraining orders, also called protective orders, are designed to help protect domestic violence victims from coming into contact with their abuser again or vice versa. However, they can also be used in an attempt to control someone or coerce them into agreeing to something they might not under ordinary circumstances. 

For example, a vengeful spouse may claim domestic abuse and obtain a protective order in an attempt to keep the spouse away from them and their child. The same may happen with two people in an intimate relationship who have a child but are not married. A protective order prevents you from going within a certain distance of the person(s) named in the order, which can be just your ex-partner or your ex and your child(ren). 

Even if the allegations against you are false, Colorado domestic violence laws require this to be proven in court, which can take weeks or even months to resolve. In the meantime, you're prevented from having access to your child and where you can go and what you can do will be restricted.  

How a Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help Defend You

If you were accused of domestic abuse, it's important that you take action as soon as possible to protect your rights and reputation. A Colorado domestic violence lawyer can help you understand the laws relevant to you and could impact your case, especially if you were the subject of a mandatory arrest. Without a lawyer, it can be next to impossible to successfully fight even completely false domestic violence charges. 

Our Colorado criminal defense law firm has the experience and track record of success needed to give you the best possible chance when fighting for your rights in a court of law against domestic abuse charges. We know how difficult it can be when there's little evidence to support your defense, and we're committed to helping our clients avoid false imprisonment due to unclear domestic violence laws that allow for bias to enter the judicial process. 

Contact our office today for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case. We have experience working with domestic violence cases like yours, and we can help you take the necessary steps to protect your record, reputation, and rights. We are standing by now and are available to assist you. 


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