Penalties For A Domestic Violence Conviction

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A plea bargain is a conviction and you surrender your right to appeal.
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Penalties under Colorado law

Court orders

Required domestic violence treatment

Conditions of probation

Federal penalties

Public records and associated pains and penalties


Penalties under Colorado law

The following assumes a misdemeanor conviction. A plea bargain or conviction on a felony domestic violence charge typically carries these penalties plus jail time.

Court orders


A deferred sentence or adjudication is a conviction.

1. A typical sentence is 24 months probation either supervised or unsupervised depending on circumstances and jurisdiction.

2. Notice of your conviction will be posted on public, e.g. and police databases, e.g., Colorado Bureau of Investigation and these records will be publicly available for the rest of your life irrespective of any claims (lies) by prosecutors or others that you can seal these records after completing a deferred sentence.

3. You may ask the court to “seal” your records only ten or more years after completion of all conditions of your conviction. C.R.S. § 24-72-308.5

4. By law the mandatory protection order issued at the time of your arrest remains in place until the sentence is completed. If you appeal the order remains in place until the disposition of the appeal, often at least two more years. However, if you plead guilty or no contest you surrender your right to appeal. While the judge may alter the terms of the protection order at time of sentencing, typically the judge will order you to:

(a) Not harass, molest, intimidate, retaliate against, or tamper with any victim of the acts you have been convicted of.

(b) You must remain out of your home or that of the victim or any place the victim is likely to be found including work or shopping. Usually you must remain at least 100 yards from the victim at all times, no excuses. If you and your spouse or partner want to get back together you must obtain court permission before attempting any contact other than through your attorney.

(c) You will probably be restrained from communicating directly or indirectly with any victim of your crime. That will almost certainly include your children except at stated places, time, and by proscribed methods. Typically you will only be able to visit your children under supervised visitation while on probation. You will also pay approximately $50 per hour for such supervision.

(d) Your conviction will also be used against you in any divorce proceedings and you will lose custody of your children. As a convicted domestic violence offender primary custody cannot pass to you.

(e) If drugs or alcohol were involved you will likely be ordered not to possess or consume any alcoholic beverages or controlled substances until your sentence is completed. Mental health or substance abuse treatment may also be required at your expense.

(f) You shall not possess or control a firearm or any other weapon (this is a lifetime penalty, see Federal penalties below).

(g) Any violation of the mandatory restraining order or other conditions of your probation will result in your arrest and imprisonment, commonly for 3 to 6 months for the first violation.

(h) Any other order the judge thinks is appropriate. That may include electronic (GPS) monitoring of your location at all times or polygraph (lie detector) examinations.

Note that many women also seek civil protection orders under C.R.S. § 13-14-101 et seq. in addition to the mandatory order. Once made permanent civil protection orders apply for life and cannot be modified for at least four (4) years.
Note that it is very common for unstable or mentally-disturbed women to file repeated and multiple charges.

5. A jail sentence may be imposed especially if this is a repeated offense.

A repeated offense during your probation will result in revocation and the prosecutor need only show that a preponderance of the evidence shows you are guilty rather than the far more stringent beyond a reasonable doubt in the original case.

As of July 1, 2000, a third domestic violence offense is a automatically a felony.

Required domestic violence treatment


Note: Under C.R.S. § 18-6-801 you need not be convicted of a crime involving domestic violence in order to be court ordered to complete a course of treatment for domestic violence.

Up until the end of 2009 a 36-week, one-size-fits-all course of domestic violence counseling at your expense by a state-approved treatment provider is required if so ordered by the court. Treatment costs will range from $20 per session if you are indigent to $100 each. Additional treatment, e.g., alcohol, may also be required at additional cost.

Note that a substantial percentage of convicted men, and some women choose to do time in jail rather than take these classes. Only about 50% of those convicted of domestic violence actually complete this treatment.

As there is no evidence that the 36-week course of treatment mandated under current (August 2009) standards has any impact or effect on DV offenders, by early 2010 it is anticipated that offenders will be placed in separate levels of treatment for various lengths of time based on ongoing evaluations every two to three months.

The new treatment program is supposed to provide an opportunity to learn, grow and change. It is not considered punishment and the treatment will required you to participate.

The level of DV treatment you will be required to undertake will be based on such factors as criminal history, drug or alcohol issues, mental health problems, use or threatened use of a weapon, concerns for public and victim safety, employment status, etc.

There are three levels of treatment. You will be required to undergo and pay for an evaluation that includes a risk assessment with a state-approved treatment provider. Once your initial level is determined a treatment plan will be developed. This plan will be reviewed every two to three months by a Multidisciplinary Treatment Team (MTT) and may be modified based on your progress in the reeducation camp.

Some of the circumstances that can affect the length of treatment: group attendance or lack thereof; degree of willingness to learn (i.e., enthusiastically accept and parrot redfem propaganda); participation in group; new criminal activity during treatment; following court orders and treatment plan; continuing your abusive actions and behavior; and demonstration of financial responsibility (paying for your reeducation, child support, etc.).

Treatment completion is based on understanding and applying your treatment goals . It is no longer based on a set length of time. You must actively participate in treatment, learn and demonstrate new skills in your life such as accepting responsibility for your abusive behavior and understanding how it impacts others.

Conditions of probation


The following probation conditions will vary depending on the sentence you are given and the judicial district you are convicted in.
The following conditions are fairly typical, however, and only terminate upon successful completion of your probation.
Violation of any one or more of these conditions can result in your parole being revoked and your being sent to prison for the remainder of your sentence as well as any additional term tacked on by the court.

1. You shall not violate any local, state, or federal law.

2. You shall not harass, molest, intimidate, retaliate against or tamper with any victims of or any prosecution witnesses to the crime.

3. You are required to register as a sex offender if you are convicted of an offense involving unlawful sexual behavior, pursuant to Section 18-3-412.5 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

4. You shall maintain a permanent residence and shall report any change of address as directed by the probation officer.

5. You shall not leave the State of Colorado without written permission from the probation officer or the court.

6. You shall report to the probation officer at reasonable times, as directed by the court or the probation officer and permit the officer to visit you at home or elsewhere unannounced.

7. You shall answer all reasonable inquiries by the probation officer.

8. You shall report any law enforcement contacts to the probation officer immediately.

9. You may be required to notify third parties of your criminal record, as directed by the probation officer.

10. You shall maintain or seek suitable employment or faithfully pursue a course of study or vocational training and shall report any change in employment or educational status, as directed by the probation officer.

11. You shall support your dependents and meet your other family responsibilities, including any obligations for child support or spousal maintenance.

12. You shall not possess any firearm, explosive or other destructive device, or any other dangerous weapons.

13. You shall not use alcohol or use unlawfully any controlled substance or other dangerous or abusable drug or substance.

14. You shall submit to substance testing at the direction of the probation officer, and it will be at your expense.

15. You shall obtain counseling or treatment for drug abuse, alcohol abuse, or a mental condition and shall remain in a specified residential facility if necessary for that purpose, as required by the court or the probation officer. You shall be responsible for the costs of the program.

16. You shall not transfer to another treatment provider without written permission from the court or probation officer and shall comply with all of the conditions of your domestic violence treatment.

17. You shall submit, at any time, to a search by your probation officer of your residence, automobile, person, or other items under your control and you must acknowledge your consent to such warrantless searches.

18. You will not enter into an agreement with local or federal law enforcement to act as a confidential informant while under probation supervision.

19. You shall comply with any other requirement so the probation officer in order to meet the conditions imposed by the court.

Your probation will be revoked if you knowingly or unknowingly violate any of the terms and conditions specified above. Usually that will mean some time in jail for you.


Federal penalties


1. Firearms and ammunition: You can never for the rest of your life own, be in possession of, or in the vicinity of any firearm or ammunition 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9). For example, if you are in a car and there is a single bullet or shell in the car you are guilty of a federal felony with a mandatory 5 to 10 year sentence. This is true whether you are given a deferred or adjudicated sentence as those are still convictions under federal law.

Obviously you can never again get a hunting license but the law bars you from even being in a hunting camp with other armed hunters. Gun collections are also denied, nor can you be in a home with guns or ammunition present.

Note that cartridges used in nail guns are ammunition so that you cannot work many construction jobs. Exploration for and exploitation of minerals, e.g., oil, gas, mining, will be excluded as well. You will also be barred from interstate transport of hazardous materials as well. And this summary of federally excluded activities is by no means exhaustive.

2. Security clearance: You will not be able to obtain a security clearance and may well lose any current clearance you have. That will bar you from working on any government facility or military base in any position, e.g., construction or food contractor, where sensitive or classified material or equipment is present.

3. Government employment: You probably cannot hold any government job and may lose any current federal job you have. That is especially true if you are in a position that requires you to carry a weapon or handle or transport ammunition, explosives, or other hazardous materials, or that requires a security clearance.

4. Military: You will be discharged from the military or not allowed to reenlist.

Note that we have also encountered cases where a serviceman was not allowed to reenlist because his wife was convicted of domestic violence.

5. Uniformed Services Former Spouses Protection Act (PL 97-252, 1982): Allows state divorce courts to divide as marital property any pension earned during the concomitant marriage/service period, regardless of fault, need, or independent wealth. It also penalizes a military member for perpetrating domestic violence on his civilian spouse/dependents by revoking any retirement benefits from him and providing these benefits to his victims.

1. Deported: If you are an immigrant, in the United States on a visa, or are an illegal alien, once convicted of domestic violence you will be deported. Under a 1996 federal law, that ruling applies whether you plead guilty, no contest, plea bargain, or accept a deferred judgement. You may also face charges of aggravated deportation and be required to serve up to ten years in a federal penitentiary before being deported.

The law requiring deportation also applies to a wide range of crimes ranging from manslaughter to misdemeanor drunken driving, as well as domestic violence.


Public records and associated pains and penalties


1. Public employment: You probably cannot hold any public service job, including teaching, nursing, social services, public office, etc. That is particularly true if you are with the police or fire department.

2. General employment: You will probably lose any current job you have. Whatever your profession, statistics show there is about an 80% chance you will lose your job if convicted of domestic violence. That is specifically true if you are in a position that requires you to carry a weapon or handle or transport ammunition, explosives, or other hazardous materials, e.g. truck driver, mining, mineral exploration, construction.

3. Public records : Your conviction is a matter of public record (see and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation records) and you will find it extremely difficult to find another position except of the most menial kind. Even if the court agrees at the end of your probation to “seal” your records will typically remain on these databases as well as many others for the rest of your life.

We have never seen an example where a convicted offender's criminal records were not easily obtainable even though the individual claimed their records had been “sealed” or removed from public records. It is in the public interest that individual criminal records are easily obtainable.

4. Professional licenses: You will likely lose any professional licenses, certificates, or bonds you may have, i.e., medical, legal, broker, teaching, securities, financial, commercial driver, airplane pilot, etc.

Obviously after a domestic violence conviction you will not be able to obtain any of these certificates or licenses in the future.

5. Child custody: As a convicted domestic violence offender primary custody cannot pass to you. It is also common for children to end up in foster homes if their parent(s) are convicted of domestic violence.

Note that domestic violence charges are often filed by adulterous wives who were caught having an affair. Her objective is to get the house, the car, the kids, and child support even though 30% of DNA paternity tests show the man tested isn't the father of the child(ren). As of January 1, 2006, Colorado law now prohibits a man from challenging child support on the basis of paternity tests once orders are entered or the divorce is final. Thus, a domestic violence conviction may often lead to a man being condemned to pay child support for children he is not the biological father of, and for children he does not, or cannot have contact with.

The law on paternity was slightly modified in 2008 but It is critical that paternity testing be done before any child support orders are entered.

6. Renting and leasing: Colorado law prohibits landlords from enforcing a lease or rental agreement when domestic violence is involved. Consequently, most will not rent or lease to anyone with a DV conviction.

7. Loans: You may find it impossible to obtain a loan or buy a house with a domestic violence conviction on your record. Banks and mortgage companies have apparently suffered too many defaults after domestic violence was alleged in divorces so your credit rating will crater.

Generally student loans are not available to anyone with a domestic violence conviction.

8. Loss of home and bankruptcy: Loss of employment, child support, and the expense of having to support two households typically means the family home will be sold or, at best, the wife will retain it and the husband pay for it after a domestic violence conviction.

The financial strain associated with these added burdens commonly leads to bankruptcy or, far too frequently, suicide.

So if you have been charged with domestic violence and haven't stupidly taken a plea bargain you had best consider getting a competent criminal defense attorney and defending yourself.



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

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


| Chapter 1 — Charged With Domestic Violence? |

| Next — You will need a lawyer |

| Back — Mandatory protection order |


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

Added February 6, 2006

Last modified 10/15/18