If you’ve watched any shows about law enforcement ever, you’ve probably heard the term “assault and battery.” What you might not know, however, is that in Colorado these are actually two separate charges.
Battery charges can be serious, and offenders may be especially anxious if they are charged with domestic battery. Learn what constitutes battery in our state, as well as how to defend against these charges so that you can avoid the consequences that come with conviction.
What Is “Battery” in Colorado?
Battery (also known as “menacing”) is any threat or physical action that causes a person to believe that they are in danger of imminent bodily harm. Unlike assault, a person does not have to lay a finger on the victim to commit battery.
Examples of battery include:
- Using verbal threats
- Sending threatening messages
- Breaking objects or causing physical damage to property
- Other forms of harassment
- Pointing a deadly weapon at another
Simple battery is a class 3 misdemeanor in Colorado. Penalties for a class 3 misdemeanor include up to six months behind bars and up to $750 in fines.
If the offender threatened to use a deadly weapon, the charge is elevated to a class 5 felony. (Even if the weapon only appeared to look like a firearm or deadly weapon, the offender may still face felony charges.) Penalties for a class 5 felony include up to three years behind bars and up to $100,000 in fines.
What Is “Domestic Battery” in Colorado?
Domestic violence affects millions of people in the United States every year, causing an astounding 74% of all murder-suicides in the country. In Colorado alone, intimate partner violence makes up 15% of all violent crimes. Not surprisingly, our state takes domestic violence very seriously.
A violent crime becomes “domestic” when it involves someone that the offender knows as a relative, roommate, or intimate partner. For example, if someone commits a violent crime against an ex-spouse, ex-girlfriend, or the mother of their children, they will still face domestic violence charges.
When battery charges become domestic battery charges, the offender will face alternative or additional penalties. They might be given a protection order. These orders prohibit offenders from contacting the victim, and may include other consequences such as fines, the loss of child custody, or the prohibition of being or living within a certain distance of the victim.
If the defendant refuses to abide by the protection order, they may be charged with a class 2 misdemeanor charge. Penalties for a class 2 misdemeanor include up to 12 months behind bars.
Offenders may also have to undergo domestic violence education or counseling as a part of their sentence. Domestic violence offenders will lose the right to own or purchase a firearm, even if they are convicted of a misdemeanor charge like menacing.
If the defendant has three prior domestic violence convictions on their record, they will be charged with a class 5 felony.
Defense Strategies for Colorado Domestic Battery Charges
Legally speaking, domestic battery is very specifically defined. If you can show that your situation does not a meet a specific part of the definition, it can make a huge impact on both the charge and consequences you suffer. Talk to your Denver criminal defense lawyer about the best defense strategy for your case.
No Deadly Weapon Present
In order for prosecutors to convict you on aggravated domestic battery charges, they will have to prove that you threatened the use of a deadly weapon or that a deadly weapon was present. If the victim or law enforcement officers simply assumed that a deadly weapon was present, you might be able to walk out of court with reduced charges. There is a big difference between a felony and a misdemeanor in Colorado – it’s worth the fight.
No Knowledge of The Incident
In order for domestic battery to occur, the defendant has to have knowingly caused the victim to fear imminent danger. There are a lot of ways to show that you did not intentionally or knowingly put the alleged victim in fear of imminent danger. If you were heavily intoxicated or were sending messages that you did not realize would be considered threatening, you might be able to use this as evidence in your case.
Intoxication is not always a valid defense, but if a judge believes that you need rehabilitation instead of punishment, they may offer an alternative sentence.
False accusations of domestic violence are rare, but they do happen. If your partner or family member falsely accuses you of menacing, you might want to build a defense around the “holes” in their story. If the jury believes that the alleged victim is lying, you may be found not guilty and walk free.
Do not allow yourself to be branded as a domestic violence offender. The penalties are too serious, and they can follow you for the rest of your life. Protect your rights and future by putting together the strongest possible defense strategy.
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.