Under a new bill, those in Colorado who are convicted of domestic abuse could see harsher punishments, including a mandatory minimum jail time and felony charges for strangulation.
Currently, 38 states in the US consider strangling another person a felony, but Colorado isn’t one of them. In the next legislative session early next year, advocates are a backing a bill to change that.
Many prominent figures in law enforcement are in support of the bill as well. Denver District Attorney Mitch Morrissey believes that while Colorado has strict domestic violence laws, the state needs to take strangulation cases more seriously.
“Unfortunately, most strangulation situations, unless there is extreme external injuries or internal injuries, get filed as misdemeanors,” said Morrissey to ABC 7News Denver. “It’s important that Colorado recognizes just how dangerous it is when we have a strangulation situation.”
Felony strangling charges, if passed, would not be limited to domestic abuse incidents. Any person who strangled someone else would be subject to a mandatory incarceration sentence.
The state of Colorado prosecutes the violent act (i.e. assault, strangulation) as the crime.
Domestic violence is not itself a criminal charge. Rather, “domestic violence” under our statutes refers to the circumstances surrounding the crime. When you have an intimate relationship with the alleged victim, the law considers this an act of domestic violence. This includes current or former spouses, married couples, or parents of the same child.
In Colorado, domestic violence occurs when a person commits act of violence or the threat of violence toward a person they have an intimate relationship with. The definition also includes any other crime or municipal ordinance violation committed against a third party or against property for the purpose of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge, directed at a person with whom the aggressor has or had an intimate relationship. For example, if you spray-painted your ex-girlfriend or boyfriend’s car, you could be accused of domestic violence.
Many people don’t realize this, but it’s very important to understand. Why? Because domestic violence allegations may lead to harsher sentences that a crime between two strangers. Additionally, if the court finds a defendant guilty of a crime involving domestic abuse, the court will likely include treatment programs and evaluations in his or her sentence. Things that
add time and extra expense to your penalties.
And if you have past convictions for domestic violence-related crimes on your record, the prosecuting attorney may push to have you declared a habitual domestic violence offender. In this situation, you may face felony charges instead of a misdemeanor.
Some of the strictest laws governing domestic violence cases concern what happens before the trial. If the police respond to an incident and suspect you of domestic violence, they will take you to jail immediately.
You will have to remain in jail until you can appear in front of a judge. Bond is not offered for those accused of domestic violence. At your hearing, the judge will issue a restraining order, which prevents you from being in contact with alleged victim – even if you share a home with that person.
The laws governing domestic violence allegations are severe, and they will likely only get stricter in the coming years. If you have been arrested on charges of a crime involving domestic violence, you should contact an experience criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.