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Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Understanding Domestic Violence Enhancer in Colorado

Introduction to Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one person to gain power and control over an intimate partner or family member. It encompasses various forms of abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and financial. Domestic violence is not limited to physical violence and can involve actions such as alienating friends and family, isolating the victim, and verbal abuse. Numerous factors contribute to the occurrence and severity of domestic violence, including individual, relational, community, and societal factors. Additional factors such as substance abuse, mental illness, social isolation, economic stress, and cultural norms can exacerbate domestic violence.

Definition of Domestic Violence in Colorado

In Colorado, domestic violence is defined as an act or threatened act of violence against an individual who is or has been involved in an intimate relationship with the perpetrator. The term “intimate relationship” includes relationships between spouses, former spouses, unmarried couples, individuals who have a child in common, and individuals who are currently or were previously in a romantic or sexual relationship.

Domestic Violence Enhancer

Under Colorado law, domestic violence is not a separate crime but rather a sentence enhancer that can be added to other criminal offenses if they are committed as acts of domestic violence. The Domestic Violence Enhancer is indicated as a separate charge on a summons or complaint and information. When a person is convicted of a criminal offense classified as an act of domestic violence, the penalties and consequences for the offense may be enhanced. This enhancement can include mandatory protection orders, counseling or treatment requirements, and the possibility of longer incarceration.

Examples of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can manifest in various forms, including physical assault, sexual assault, stalking, harassment, intimidation, financial control, verbal abuse, and other controlling behaviors. For instance, a person involved in a slapping incident may face harassment or assault charges in Colorado, with the charges labeled as “a crime of domestic violence.” This classification triggers the additional penalties associated with the Domestic Violence Enhancer. Essentially, any crime perpetrated on an intimate partner can be labeled with the Domestic Violence Enhancer.

Dismissal and Defense Strategies

A domestic violence sentence enhancer can be dismissed in Colorado if the underlying criminal charge is dismissed or if the prosecutor agrees to drop the domestic violence classification. However, the decision to dismiss a Domestic Violence Enhancer rests with the prosecutor and the court. A defense attorney can argue against the domestic violence classification if the evidence does not support it or if the classification was applied improperly. For example, if the alleged victim does not meet the definition of an intimate partner under Colorado law or if the client’s actions were not motivated by a desire to retaliate against the spouse/partner, a defense attorney may challenge the classification.

Legal Representation and Plea Agreements

If you have been charged with a domestic violence offense in Colorado, it is crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney. They can review your case, explain your legal options, and help build a strong defense on your behalf. In some cases, a plea agreement may be reached that includes dismissal or reduction of the domestic violence sentence enhancer. However, it is essential to have an experienced attorney carefully review and negotiate any plea agreement to ensure it serves your best interests.

Penalties and Consequences

In Colorado, a domestic violence enhancer can result in special penalties for the offender. If a criminal offense is classified as an act of domestic violence, the offender may be subject to mandatory protection orders, counseling or treatment requirements, and a longer period of incarceration compared to a non-domestic violence charge. The specific penalties and consequences of a domestic violence sentence enhancer vary based on the circumstances of the case and the discretion of the court.

Mandatory Protection Orders and Treatment Programs

Typically, a mandatory protection order (MPO) is issued in domestic violence cases in Colorado. An MPO can require the offender to stay away from the victim and any other individuals named in the order, surrender firearms and refrain from contacting the victim or others mentioned in the order. Violating an MPO can lead to additional criminal charges and penalties. Offenders convicted of domestic violence offenses may also be required to complete a domestic violence treatment program, which includes individual and/or group therapy sessions aimed at addressing the underlying issues that contribute to violent behavior.

Probation and Firearms Restrictions

If an offender is sentenced to probation, the court may impose additional conditions related to domestic violence. This may include regular meetings with a probation officer, drug and alcohol testing, and participation in community service. In cases where an individual is convicted of a felony domestic violence offense, both state and federal law may prohibit them from owning or possessing firearms. It is important to consult with a criminal defense attorney to fully understand the potential consequences and restrictions that may arise from a domestic violence conviction.


Understanding the Domestic Violence Enhancer and its implications is crucial for individuals involved in domestic violence cases in Colorado. Seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney can provide valuable support and help navigate the complexities of the legal process. With proper representation, individuals can build a strong defense and explore potential avenues for dismissal or reduction of the domestic violence sentence enhancer.

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