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Criminal Defense Attorney / Family Law
violence cases are serious matters in Colorado and anyone accused of a crime of
domestic violence, no matter how trivial, should be represented by competent,
experienced legal counsel.
In addition to many collateral consequences such as firearms ownership discussed
below, domestic violence charges carry immediate and severe impacts on the
accused. Colorado law requires that a person suspected of domestic violence MUST
be arrested and remain in custody without bond until he/she appears before a
judge for advisement and service of a mandatory protection order. This means
that if you are arrested on a Friday night before a Monday holiday, you will
remain in jail for four days before given the opportunity to post bail. If the
Court deems it necessary, you can be ordered to vacate your home and have no
contact whatsoever with the complaining witness. You may also be required to
forfeit all firearms and other deadly weapons in your possession until the
conclusion of the case, which in the common event of probation can be two years.
Colorado law requires that any person who pleads guilty to a crime of domestic
violence must pay for and complete a MINIMUM of 36 sessions of domestic violence
counseling. Convictions for domestic violence, even misdemeanor crimes, carry
permanent and long-lasting negative effects for the accused. You should never
plead guilty to any offense until you have had the opportunity to consult
competent, experienced legal counsel. Since the evidence in many of these cases
is based entirely on the allegations of a single person, they are often not good
cases for the prosecution.
Domestic Violence and Firearms Possession/Ownership
Let me begin by stating that a misdemeanor crime classified as “domestic
violence” under Colorado law may not necessarily be a “Misdemeanor Crime of
Domestic Violence” (MCDV) under federal law, and vice-versa.
Colorado law does not preclude firearms possession/ownership based on any form
of so-called “domestic violence.” Federal law does prohibit possession and/or
ownership of a firearm by a person convicted of a Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic
Violence (MCDV). But the federal
definition and the state definition are VERY different.
“Domestic violence” under Colorado law means an act or threatened act of
violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an
intimate relationship (past or present spouse or live-in partner with whom a
child is shared), or any crime or municipal ordinance violation against a person
or against property when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment,
intimidation or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor is or has
been involved in an intimate relationship. Sec. 18-6-800.3(1)(2) C.R.S.
“Misdemeanor Crime of Domestic Violence” under federal law means a misdemeanor
under either federal or state law and has, as an element, the use or attempted
use of physical force, or the threatened use of a deadly weapon, committed by a
current or former spouse, parent or guardian of the victim, by a person with
whom the victim shares a child in common, by a person who is cohabitating with
or has cohabitated with the victim as a spouse, parent or guardian, or by a
person similarly situated to a spouse, parent or guardian of the victim. 18 USC
Chap. 44, sec. 921(a)(33)(A).
The most common question with which I have been dealing concerns misdemeanor
child abuse cases. Child abuse cannot be, by definition, a crime of domestic
violence under Colorado law. However, under the federal definition of MCDV, and
that is the definition that counts, some forms of misdemeanor child abuse may
preclude firearms possession/ownership upon conviction. Many persons enter a
plea to this type of charge believing that, because the words “domestic
violence” are not involved, there will be no collateral consequences to their
firearms rights. In child abuse cases, if the child involved is the child of the
accused, or lives with the accused, and the crime involves an element of
physical force, then a conviction will preclude firearms possession/ownership
per federal law.
On the other hand, it is quite common in Colorado for certain forms of
harassment or criminal mischief (damage to property) to be charged as acts of
domestic violence. Harassment involving non-threatening communications and all
forms of criminal mischief under Colorado law would not fall under the federal
As a final note, if you have a Colorado Concealed Handgun Permit, you will have
to surrender your permit immediately upon being charged, as a mandatory
protection order will entered against you and remain in effect until the case is
As you can see, the modern criminal schemes are very complex involving the
collateral effect on firearms possession/ownership. An MCDV conviction has the
exact same consequences as any felony conviction when it comes to your right to
keep and bear arms. I strongly encourage anyone, especially gun owners, to seek
competent legal counsel when charged with any criminal act, regardless of
whether the words “domestic violence” come into play. The consequences of any
criminal conviction can be far-reaching and permanent.
Anthony J. Fabian, P.C.
|Attorney and Counselor At Law
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