Domestic violence by itself is not a criminal charge. Domestic violence misdemeanor charges are considered a label which is applied to criminal charges which enhances the charge. As such, the punishments that go with the charges are also increased.
To give an example, if a person is accused of misdemeanor assault, and that person was in a relationship with the complaining witness, the misdemeanor assault will be charged as an act of domestic violence.
It also means that if the accused person is convicted of misdemeanor assault as an act of domestic violence, then that person will have to submit to a domestic violence evaluation and complete the recommended domestic violence treatment as a condition of his or her sentence.
Common Domestic Violence Misdemeanor Charges
Most misdemeanor charges can become a domestic violence misdemeanor charge. For this to happen, a judge must find that the facts of the case include an act of domestic violence or any crime against property, when the crime is used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom the defendant is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. This means that even misdemeanor property crimes can be considered domestic violence misdemeanor charges.
The most common domestic violence misdemeanor charges include:
- Third Degree Assault;
- Assault and Battery;
- Criminal Mischief;
- Disturbing the Peace;
- Harassment; and
- Crime of Violation of a Protection Order.
Charged in State and Municipal Courts
Misdemeanor domestic violence charges are filed in county courts such as Adams, Arapahoe, Denver, Douglas, and Jefferson Counties. However, city municipal prosecutors will file misdemeanor domestic violence charges in municipal courts such as Aurora, Denver, Lakewood, Littleton, and Westminster.
No Bond Holds for Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Charges
No bond may be posted in cases involving domestic violence or stalking until the court issues a mandatory protection order and states the terms of the protection order on the record in the defendant’s presence, and requires the defendant to acknowledge in court and in writing the mandatory protection order prior to release as a condition of any bond for the release of the defendant.
Mandatory Protection Orders
In all domestic violence misdemeanor charges, a mandatory protection order will be issued by the court. The mandatory protection order shall restrain the person charged from harassing, molesting, intimidating, retaliating against, or tampering with any witness to or victim of the acts charged. The court, in cases involving domestic violence, may enter any of the following further orders against the defendant:
- An order to vacate or stay away from the home of the alleged victim or witness and to stay away from any other location where the victim or witness is likely to be found;
- An order to refrain from contact or direct or indirect communication with the alleged victim or witness;
- An order prohibiting possession or control of firearms or other weapons;
- An order prohibiting possession or consumption of alcohol or controlled substances; and
- Any other order the court deems appropriate to protect the safety of the alleged victim or witness.
Any person failing to comply with a protection order issued by the court in a domestic violence charge could be charged with the crime of violation of a protection order, a class one misdemeanor domestic violence charge.