When lawyers and law enforcement officers talk about penalties for crimes, jail is usually the first option mentioned. Realistically, though, focusing in on the law’s recommendation for jail time gives an incomplete look at the real penalties for crimes. A number of different crimes will warrant penalties that will affect you not only immediately after conviction, but also further down the line after your criminal sentence is served.
Let’s focus in on the penalties associated with domestic violence (DV) convictions in Colorado. There is much more to worry about after a DV conviction besides jail time or fines. The real costs have to do with the loss of rights and ability to fight for yourself while dealing with family matters.
Here are some lesser known penalties of a DV conviction in Colorado. If you are currently facing charges, be sure to reach out to a Colorado lawyer for ways to avoid these penalties.
Even if you are not sentenced to time behind bars for domestic violence, violating a protective order could send you to the slammer in an instant. Protective orders may be placed on domestic violence offenders both while the case is ongoing and if they are convicted.
These types of orders restrict the offender from being within a certain distance of the alleged victim and trying to contact them. Additional terms may be put on the protective order based on what type of crime occurred, or on the relationship between the victim and the offender. Protective order violations could result in additional crimes and penalties.
Loss of Firearm Rights
In Colorado, DV offenders could lose their right to buy or own a firearm for up to a year. The firearm ban doesn’t stop at the state level, though.
The Lautenberg Amendment prohibits any DV offender from owning a firearm, even if they were convicted on misdemeanor charges. If you are caught owning a firearm with a domestic violence conviction on your record, you could face up to 10 years in jail.
Loss of Child Custody
A domestic violence conviction can follow you for years. If you are going through a divorce – even 10 or 20 years after your conviction – your record may have an impact on your ability to see your children.
Colorado determines “parenting time” (also known as “child custody”) based on many factors, including the location of both parents and their relationship to the child. Above all, the state wants to create an arrangement that is in the child’s best interests. If the arrangement is not fair to one parent, but is seen as the best option for the child, then the non-custodial parent is just out of luck.
If you have a conviction on your record that says you previously abused someone in your household, even if it wasn’t your child, your chances at custody will be hit hard. A judge will certainly take your record into account when determining arrangements like who is the custodial parent and how often you can see or visit your child.
The conviction will not be the only factor that determines when (or if) you get to see your child, but it certainly isn’t going to help.
Avoid These Penalties by Fighting Your Colorado Charges
In addition to criminal and civil penalties laid out by Colorado law, a domestic violence conviction can affect your ability to get a job or lease an apartment. Don’t give up hope, though – an arrest or charge is not a conviction in Colorado.
So, how do you avoid these negative outcomes? Your best chance is to fight back against your charges. There are a number of defenses that can be used to potentially get your charges dropped or your sentence reduced. Figure out which one is most likely to help in your situation and battle with everything you’ve got.
About the Author:
Since 2005, Jeffrey L. Weeden has been practicing criminal defense law in Colorado and has helped countless clients protect their rights and freedoms as a respected, caring, hard-nosed criminal defense attorney. Over the course of his career, Mr. Weeden’s work has been recognized in numerous ways, including being named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers list by The National Trial Lawyers, earning a 10.0 “Suberb” Avvo rating, receiving Martindale-Hubbard’s highest peer review rating — AV Preeminent, and being asked to speak on several issues of interest to the legal community. Additionally, he is someone who cares deeply about his community and those in need, and is an active member of a number of professional legal organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center and Law Firm Pro Bono Coordinators.