Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

Colorado Domestic ViolenceIn 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that American Indian tribes could not prosecute non-Indians for crimes committed on Indian reservations. Instead, those prosecutions had to be carried out by a federal U.S. Attorney’s office.

The reauthorized Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) recently passed by the U.S. Congress, however, gives tribal courts new powers to prosecute non-Indians who commit domestic violence or violate personal protection orders on reservations. For the first time in many years, non-Indians may be charged with these crimes by tribal courts.

The update in the VAWA was based on statistics showing that Native American women suffer domestic violence at more than twice the national average rate. Because tribal courts have not been allowed to prosecute suspected incidents of domestic violence and because U.S. Attorney’s offices often lack the resources, over half of domestic violence cases are believed to go un-prosecuted.
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Like most states, Colorado has laws that make “domestic violence” a specific crime, separate from similar crimes like assault. Because domestic violence can carry more severe penalties in Colorado than similar convictions can, it’s important to understand how Colorado’s domestic violence statute works.

Colorado law defines “domestic violence” generally as:

  • “An act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship,” or
  • A crime or ordinance violation against a person, property, or an animal, “when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge” against a person with whom the actor shares an intimate relationship.

Because Colorado’s domestic violence laws depend on the existence of an “intimate relationship,” it’s important to know what the law means when it uses that phrase. Colorado law defines an “intimate relationship” in the domestic violence context as a relationship between:

  • Spouses;
  • Former spouses;
  • Unmarried people who were or are in a relationship; or
  • The parents of a child, whether or not the parents ever lived together or were ever married.

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Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence (IPV), affects millions of people nationwide. Colorado takes domestic violence very seriously and consequently establishes harsh penalties for offenders. Domestic violence, however, is not considered a crime in and of itself, but a label for any crimes committed in its defined circumstances.

According to Colorado Revised Statute 18-6-800.3, domestic violence refers to “an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.” An “intimate relationship” refers to any relationship between past or present unmarried couples, spouses, parents of the same child, or former spouses. This is the definition most people are familiar with, but few people know that domestic violence in Colorado is not limited to just physical violence. Any other crime or municipal ordinance violation committed against a person, or property, including pets or animals, for the purpose of punishment, coercion, control, revenge, or intimidation is also considered domestic violence.
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