Colorado Laws Related To Domestic Violence And Abuse

Charles E. Corry, Ph.D.

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Good people don't need laws to tell them to act responsibly and bad people will find a way around the laws.

Plato

Were it made a question, whether no law, as among the savage Americans, or too much law, as among the civilized Europeans, submits man to the greatest evil, one who has seen both conditions of existence would pronounce it to be the last; and that the sheep are happier of themselves, than under the care of wolves.

Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia, 1784


 

Tabulation of domestic violence and abuse laws

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No citizen should be so foolish as to assume these laws are settled and stable and can be relied on from one year to the next.
Nor should any citizen be so foolish as to assume the law and penalties will be applied uniformly and consistently.

Since the Domestic Violence Against Men in Colorado project began in mid-1999 it has been a basic objective to provide citizens with ready access to the laws defined in the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) that govern domestic violence and abuse. Now it shouldn't be any surprise that some are these laws can best be described as "damn stupid." After all, in Logan County you can't kiss a woman while she is asleep (no, we don't have an example of a woman getting a restraining order for that, yet ), you can't drive a black car in Denver on Sundays, and in Pueblo it is illegal to promote dandelion growth. So why should we expect reason and logic to show its face in such an emotionally-driven issue as domestic violence and abuse?

Initially, several attempts were made to establish links to the web sites the Colorado legislature has contracted with to provide the statutes online. However, when the Uniform Resource Locator (URL) for the designated site was changed four times in less than two years the effort of updating the related links on this site became unsupportable. However, a general overview of how the justice system is supposed to work and the related statues can be found in pages 21-28 of the Crime and Justice in Colorado 2008-2010 .

Since linking to the web site containing the Colorado Revised Statutes didn't work, the statutes are now copied to pages on this site and links made internally. That has the disadvantage that the laws as listed here may not match the current laws as time goes on. When using the laws as posted here it behooves you to check with the current Colorado Statute Manager site for the latest revisions. Unfortunately, the URL for that site changes from year-to-year and probably the easiest way to find it is through the Colorado General Assembly site where the CO Revised Statutes are a link on the left side of their page.


 

Penalties associated with crimes

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The more laws, the less justice.

Marcus Tullius Cicero

Roman Lawyer, Writer, Scholar, Orator, and Statesman

106 BC-43 BC

Colorado classifies crimes basically as felonies (C.R.S. § 18-1-105) or misdemeanors (C.R.S. § 18-1-106) though a few offenses are classified as petty (C.R.S. § 18-1-107).

Felonies are defined in the Colorado Constitution as offenses that are punishable by death or imprisonment in a state penitentiary. Violations of the law that are punishable by fine or imprisonment in a county jail are misdemeanors.

Penalties associated with classes of felony crimes are given in Table 97.


 
    Table 97: Penalties for classes of felonies under Colorado law after 1993 (C.R.S. § 18-1.3-401)

Class of Felony

Imprisonment

Fine, in lieu of, or in

addition to imprisonment

Presumptive Range

Exceptional Circumstances

Mandatory Period of Parole

Minimum

Sentence

Maximum

Sentence

Minimum

Sentence

Maximum

Sentence

Minimum

Sentence

Maximum

Sentence

1

Life imprisonment

Death

Life imprisonment

Death

None

No fine

No fine

2

Eight years

Twenty-fouryears

Four years

Forty-eight years

Five years

$5,000

$1,000,000

3

Extraordinary

risk crime

Four years

Twelve years

Two years

Twenty-four years

Five years

$3,000

$750,000

Four years

Sixteen years

Two years

Thirty-two years

4

Extraordinary

risk crime

Two years

Six years

One year

Twelve years

Three years

$2,000

$500,000

Two years

Eight years

One year

Sixteen years

5

Extraordinary

risk crime

One year

Three years

Six months

Six years

Two years

$1,000

$100,000

One year

Four years

Six months

Eight years

6

Extraordinary

risk crime

One year

Eighteen months

Six months

Three years

One year

$1,000

$100,000

One year

Two years

Six months

Four years

Under § 18-1.3-403 in cases where an offense is denominated as being a felony and penalty is not fixed in the statute the punishment shall be imprisonment for not more than five years or a fine of not more than $100,000, or both, and a mandatory parole period of two years effective October 1, 2002. Crimes that include an extraordinary risk to society shall include the following:

1. Aggravated robbery C.R.S. § 18-4-302

2. Child abuse C.R.S. § 18-6-401

3. Unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, sale, or possession of a controlled substance with the intent to sell,

distribute, manufacture, or dispense, C.R.S. § 18-18-405 (Note – not simple possession)

4. Any crime of violence as defined in C.R.S. § 18-1.3-406

5. Stalking, C.R.S. § 18-9-111 (4)

6. Sale of materials to manufacture controlled substances, C.R.S. § 18-18-412.7 (effective July 1, 2004)

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Penalties associated with classes of misdemeanors are given in Table 98.


 
    Table 98: Penalties for classes of misdemeanors under Colorado law (C.R.S. § 18-1.3-501 as of July 1, 2007)

Class

Minimum Sentence

Maximum Sentence

1

Six months imprisonment, or five

hundred dollars fine, or both.

Eighteen months imprisonment, or

five thousand dollars fine, or both.

2

Three months imprisonment, or two

hundred fifty dollars fine, or both.

Twelve months imprisonment, or one

thousand dollars fine, or both.

3

Fifty dollars fine.

Six months imprisonment, or

seven hundred fifty dollars fine, or

both.

These penalties may be increased under specific conditions.

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Indeterminate sentencing

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In addition, some offenses committed on or after November 1, 1998 are subject to indeterminate sentencing under the provisions of C.R.S. § 18-1.3-1004

1. Sexual assault, C.R.S. § 18-3-402

2. Sexual assault in the first degree, C.R.S. § 18-3-402 as it existed prior to July 1, 2000

3. Sexual assault in the second degree, C.R.S. § 18-3-403 as it existed prior to July 1, 2000

4. Felony unlawful sexual contact, C.R.S. § 18-3-404 (2)

5. Felony sexual assault in the third degree, C.R.S. § 18-3-404 (2) as it existed prior to July 1, 2000

6. Sexual assault on a child, C.R.S. § 18-3-405

7. Sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, C.R.S. § 18-3-405.3

8. Aggravated sexual assault on a client by a psychotherapist, C.R.S. § 18-3-405.5 (1)

9. Enticement of a child, C.R.S. § 18-3-305

10. Incest, C.R.S. § 18-6-301

11. Aggravated incest, C.R.S. § 18-6-302

12. Patronizing a prostituted child, C.R.S. § 18-7-406

13. Class 4 felony internet luring of a child, C.R.S. § 18-3-306 (3)

14. Internet sexual exploitation of a child, C.R.S. § 18-3-405.4

15. Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of these offenses if such attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation would constitute a class 2, 3, or 4 felony.

Sex offenses

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Unlawful sexual behavior that requires sex offender registration

1. Sexual assault, C.R.S. § 18-3-402

2. Sexual assault in the first degree as it existed prior to July 1, 2000, C.R.S. § 18-3-402

3. Sexual assault in the second degree as it existed prior to July 1, 2000, C.R.S. § 18-3-403

4. Unlawful sexual contact, C.R.S. § 18-3-404

5. Sexual assault in the third degree as it existed prior to July 1, 2000, C.R.S. § 18-3-404

6. Sexual assault on a child, C.R.S. § 18-3-405

7. Sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, C.R.S. § 18-3-405.3

8. Sexual assault on a client by a psychotherapist, C.R.S. § 18-3-405.5

9. Enticement of a child, C.R.S. § 18-3-305

10. Incest, C.R.S. § 18-6-301

11. Aggravated incest, C.R.S. § 18-6-302

12. Trafficking in children, C.R.S. § 18-6-402

13. Sexual exploitation of children, C.R.S. § 18-6-403

14. Procurement of a child for sexual exploitation, C.R.S. § 18-6-404

15. Indecent exposure, C.R.S. § 18-7-302

16. Soliciting for child prostitution, C.R.S. § 18-7-402

17. Pandering of a child, C.R.S. § 18-7-403

18. Procurement of a child, C.R.S. § 18-7-403.5

19. Keeping a place of child prostitution, C.R.S. § 18-7-405.5

20. Pimping of a child, C.R.S. § 18-7-405

21. Inducement of a child prostitution, C.R.S. § 18-7-405.5

22. Patronizing a prostituted child, C.R.S. § 18-7-406

23. Engaging in sexual conduct in a penal institution, C.R.S. § 18-7-701

24. Promotion of obscenity to a minor and wholesale promotion of obscenity to a minor, C.R.S. § 18-7-102

25. Class 4 felony internet luring of a child, C.R.S. § 18-3-306 (3)

26. Internet sexual exploitation of a child, C.R.S. § 18-3-405.4

27. Any offense for which the underlying factual bases involves any of these offenses

28. Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any of these offenses


 

Statute of limitations for prosecuting crimes

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Limitations for commencing criminal proceedings and juvenile delinquency proceedings in Colorado are generally defined in C.R.S. 16-5-401.

Except in special circumstances, under C.R.S. 16-5-401 no adult or juvenile shall be prosecuted, tried, or punished for any offense or delinquent act unless the indictment, information, complaint, or petition in delinquency is filed in a court of competent jurisdiction or a summons and complaint or penalty assessment notice is served upon the defendant or juvenile within the period of time after the commission of the offense or delinquent act as specified below:

 

Murder, kidnapping, treason, and any forgery regardless of the penalty provided: No limit

Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit murder; attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit kidnapping; attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit treason; and attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit any forgery regardless of the penalty provided: No limit

Other felonies: Three years

Misdemeanors: Eighteen months

Class 1 and 2 misdemeanor traffic offenses: One year

Petty offenses: Six months

In general the period within which a prosecution must be commenced shall begin to run upon discovery of the criminal or delinquent act.


 

Proposed law reforms

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Colorado is rated better than most other states in terms of the coherency of its statutes. However, that does not imply there isn't a great deal of room for improvements, particularly in the area of domestic violence and abuse. And Colorado law is far from settled and constant from year to year, especially with regard to family law and domestic violence and abuse.

We see no reason the statutes should not be brought into conformance with the State and Federal Constitutions on such issues as warrantless arrests, search and seizure, mandatory arrests, subornation of perjury, use of hearsay, presumption of innocence, right to obtain witnesses on one's behalf, restoration of due process, and a host of other ills that have crept into our laws in the name of "law and order."

Rarely do police actually need such powers as they have been granted. Modern technology gives them many advantages of communication, surveillance, and other technology that readily outweigh any supposed disadvantages of giving citizens back their civil liberties. Such liberties were given Constitutional protection in the first place because centuries of experience showed that governments abused these powers if citizens were not protected. Our perilous times are no exception.

The following sections are a mere beginning on the work that needs to be done. Our resources are limited and our grasp of the issues finite. But someone, somewhere, somehow, must make a start.

Proposed changes to the Colorado Revised Statutes

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In the following sections the existing statute is copied at the top followed by notations and court cites. Following those we have tabulated any changes to the law we think would work toward fixing the problem, not the blame. This is an ongoing effort and is presently (August, 2001) incomplete.

Proposed changes follow the same format:

• Text in ordinary font is language that exists now.

• Text in bold indicates intention of proposed changes.

• Language to be removed is indicated by striking it out.

• Language to be added is indicated by text in [ non-proportional Courier font] surrounded by square brackets [ ].

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| EJF Home | Join the EJF | Comments? | Get EJF newsletter | Newsletters |

| DV Home | Abstract | Contents | Authors and Site Map | Tables | Index | Bibliography |

 

| Chapter 14 — Applicable Colorado Laws |

| Next — Domestic abuse discrimination |


 

This site is supported and maintained by the Equal Justice Foundation.

Last modified 3/10/14