The phrase has been used and abused by TV crime dramas to the point of having almost nothing to do with its actual legal meaning and purpose. Domestic violence calls to mind a wide range of stereotypes, few of which approach anything like reality. This misperception is important because being accused — much less convicted — of domestic violence can have a massive and unending effect on a person’s life. Denver Colorado domestic violence attorney Christopher T. Braddock has seen it happen again and again.
Defining Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is, quite simply, “an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is (or has been) involved in an intimate relationship,” or “any criminal act used to coerce, control, punish, or intimidate a person with whom the actor holds (or has held) an intimate relationship.” It is worth of note that “intimate” is not the same as “sexual” — it is purely up to the courts to determine whether or not any given relationship counts as “intimate.”
Domestic Violence is Not a Crime
At least, not in the legal sense. Much like ‘hate crime,’ the term ‘domestic violence’ is used to qualify further and define an existing crime. You cannot be charged with Felony Domestic Violence Class 3, for example, but you can be charged with Felony Pimping Class 3 as a Matter of Domestic Violence — which is automatically a more significant charge than ‘just’ Felony Pimping Class 3.
If you are charged with anything ‘as a Matter of Domestic Violence,’ your sentence is increased by an informal minimum of 36 weeks of domestic violence treatment. (The actual amount is determined by an evaluation, but it was once 36 weeks by law and even today cases where the evaluation leads to a smaller term are vanishingly rare.) You will be unable to purchase or possess firearms, which can lead to dire consequences for any law enforcement, military, or any person who regularly uses firearms as part of their job.
Above and beyond all of that, the social ramifications of being a convicted Domestic Abuser are hard to overstate. If you are charged with anything as a Matter of Domestic Violence, it is in your best interest to get the most competent domestic violence lawyer you can, immediately.