Domestic Violence Isn’t Always What You Think It Is

August 21, 2020 | Bill Henry

The COVID-19 pandemic has created uncertainty for many people. Being in quarantine, or staying at home more, can compound the stress you’re experiencing. Unfortunately, high levels of stress can lead to domestic violence.

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An Increase In Domestic Violence

COVID-19 has families and couples spending more time together that they may not be used to. Add that to the worry the pandemic has caused and you have a scenario that can lead to a spike in domestic violence arrests.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence

Domestic violence (DV) itself does not have its own criminal charge. Rather, domestic violence is what the law calls an enhancer.

For instance, you may be charged with assault. That’s the underlying criminal charge. If the assault involves your spouse or partner, a domestic violence enhancer would be tacked on to the assault charge.

You Do Not Have to Make Contact

It’s very important to know that you do not have to have physical contact with a spouse or partner in order for to get a domestic violence type of charge.

Here’s an Example: 

Let’s say a couple is arguing, and, at some point, someone throws a vase against the wall or smashes a television.

You could have be charged with criminal mischief with underlying basis of domestic violence.

Domestic Violence is Different from the Movies

Movies and TV shows often show people being charged after having beaten their spouse. Of course, that is the case many times.

However, a domestic violence scenario can include pushing a partner during an argument. Perhaps you push past your spouse trying to leave an argument.

Another example is a false imprisonment charge. A person trying to walk away from an argument was prevented from leaving. It isn’t unheard of that a domestic violence enhancer is added to that charge.

Proving Domestic Violence

First, prosecutors have to prove that the underlying charge actually occurred. For instance, they have to show that the assault or criminal mischief happened. If that crime is proven, then the jury is briefed on the domestic violence enhancement.

Two Prongs of Domestic Violence
  1. Is there a current or previous intimate relationship? (spouse, ex-spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend, ex-girlfriend/ex-boyfriend)
  2. Did the act intend to perpetuate the cycle of domestic violence? (control, threats of retaliation)

Domestic violence is a very serious charge. If you are convicted of domestic violence in Colorado, that record can never be sealed.

Charged with Domestic Violence?

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