Archive for the ‘ Domestic Violence ’ Category

Can A Domestic Violence Conviction Prohibit You From Owning A Gun In Denver?

Posted on: February 20, 2017 by in Domestic Violence
No Comments

The United States Code – federal law – makes it a federal crime for anyone convicted of a domestic violence offense to possess a firearm or ammunition for a firearm. The federal law even classifies a misdemeanor conviction as a domestic violence offense if involves the threat or use or physical force or a deadly weapon against a current or former spouse, parent, guardian, cohabitation partner, child, or anyone acting in any of those capacities. According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, a San Francisco-based nonprofit, “Guns pose a particular threat in the hands of domestic abusers.” The organization offers these statistics as proof:

  • If a domestic abuser owns a firearm, an abused woman is five times more likely to be killed by the abuser.
  • Domestic violence assaults committed with a firearm are twelve times more likely to result in a fatality than other domestic violence assaults.
  • From 1980 through 2008, over two-thirds of the spouses and exes who were homicide victims in the U.S. were killed with firearms.
  • In 2011, almost two-thirds of the women killed with guns in the United States were killed by a partner or an ex-partner.

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has also compiled these disturbing statistics regarding firearms and domestic violence crimes in the state of Colorado:

  • In 2011, 18.1 percent of Colorado homicides were crimes of domestic violence.
  • Of that 18.1 percent, half of the victims were killed with guns.
  • In 2011, more than four in ten female Colorado homicide victims were killed in domestic violence incidents.
  • 47.6 percent of those homicides were committed with a firearm.
  • 258 women in Colorado were murdered with firearms in the years 2001 through 2016.

HOW DO THE COURTS DEFINE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

The United States Supreme Court in 2014 (in United States v. Castleman) narrowly defined what “domestic violence” means in the context of the federal firearm law. The justices decided that the term “force” does not necessarily have to mean violence that causes an injury but may also include “offensive” touching. In other words, domestic violence, much like battery, does not have to be overtly violent.

The Supreme Court justices recognized that in domestic relationships, most “assaults” aren’t necessarily overtly violent or injurious. Grabbing, slapping, or pushing someone is much more common, but these actions, in the Supreme Court’s view, are nevertheless instances of domestic violence. Even trying and failing to touch someone offensively can lead to a domestic violence conviction that can keep someone from legally possessing a firearm.

And in Voisine v. U.S. (2016), the Supreme Court justices defined “domestic violence” even more precisely. A misdemeanor conviction for a domestic violence offense does not necessarily have to be a conviction for “knowing or intentional” behavior directed at the victim. Simple “reckless” behavior may be enough to warrant a conviction for a domestic violence offense that counts as a crime of domestic violence under the federal gun prohibition law.

HOW ARE FIREARMS AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HANDLED AT THE STATE LEVEL?

The state of Colorado in 2013 enacted its own law to remove firearms from the possession of those convicted of crimes of domestic violence. The Colorado statute incorporates the federal law prohibiting the purchase or possession of a firearm or ammunition by offenders convicted of domestic violence crimes, and it also makes provisions for those whose domestic violence charges are pending and those who are the subjects of restraining orders.

Whenever criminal charges are filed in Colorado, the state requires the issuance of a protective order to keep the defendant from intimidating, harassing, retaliating against, or tampering with any witness or victim connected to the case. When the charge is a crime of domestic violence, issuing the order triggers the federal gun prohibition statute, so the defendant may not possess any firearms or ammunition while the charges are pending. Colorado’s 2013 statute also prevents anyone who is the subject of a civil protection order – a “restraining order” – from purchasing or possessing firearms or ammo.

The Colorado statute establishes the steps that someone charged with a domestic violence crime – or someone who is the subject of a restraining order – must take to surrender firearms and ammunition that they already own. The law generally requires the surrender of firearms and ammunition within 24 hours to any person who has undergone a firearms background check. If the gun or ammo owner has been held in custody, firearms and ammo must be surrendered within 24 hours of being released. A receipt proving that firearms and ammo have been surrendered must then be submitted to the court within three business days.

DOES EVERY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTION IMPACT GUN OWNERSHIP?

Surprisingly, some domestic violence convictions in Colorado do not restrict the offender’s firearm rights. That’s because the law in Colorado defines domestic violence more broadly than federal law defines it. Crimes against property, for example, may be classified as domestic violence crimes in Colorado if the crime’s intent is to coerce, control, punish, intimidate, or retaliate in an ongoing domestic situation.

However, property crimes are not included as domestic violence crimes in the federal gun prohibition law. Additionally, some types of harassment may constitute domestic violence in the state of Colorado but not at the federal level. Anyone who is charged with any crime of domestic violence in Colorado, as well as anyone with concerns or questions regarding his or her right to own a firearm in this state, should obtain the reliable counsel of a trustworthy and experienced Denver domestic violence attorney.

According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, misdemeanor domestic violence convictions are the number three reason why applications to purchase a firearm are rejected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (the top reasons are felony convictions and outstanding arrest warrants). Between November 1998 and July 2014, over 100,000 people convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime in the U.S. were denied the purchase of a firearm under the federal law.

Some say the federal gun prohibition law provides necessary protection and saves lives. Others believe it’s an unwarranted intrusion upon the constitutional right to bear arms. That debate is certain to continue. For now, anyone who is accused of violating one of Colorado’s domestic violence laws or any of the state’s firearms laws will need the legal advice and services that an experienced Denver domestic violence lawyer can provide.

Can Family Counseling Help with Domestic Violence

Posted on: September 4, 2014 by in Domestic Violence
No Comments

Couples and family counseling can be an excellent tool to address specific problems that affect the psychological health of the family. Counseling can be particularly helpful when a family experiences a stressful event together, such as the death of a loved one or financial strain. A professional counselor can effectively help a family that is being impacted by issues such as substance abuse, chronic illness, depression, or even everyday stress and communication problems. Counseling can be a healthy solution for families looking to overcome issues and learn to effectively communicate with one another. Fortunately for those in Denver, Colorado, the area is home to qualified counseling professionals.

On the surface, it seems that family counseling would be an optimal solution for a family suffering from domestic violence issues. However, this may not be the case, according to our domestic violence lawyers. In some instances, couples counselors will even refuse to hold counseling sessions with both parties of a domestic violence situation present.

Family or Couples Counseling

Though there are exceptions to the rule, family or couples counseling is not always the best option for couples where domestic violence is involved. The primary reason is a safety concern. In order for counseling to be effective, both parties need to be open with each other. Couples and family counseling encourages all participants to practice open communication. However, in a domestic violence, or abusive, relationship such open communication can be dangerous. The victim could feel a false sense of security in the counseling session and reveal information that usually wouldn’t be shared with the abusive partner. A violent person may easily be triggered to hurt their partner should the victim speak openly and honestly about the abuse. This would not only create an unsafe environment during the counseling session, but after the couple or family has returned home as well. In situations where children are present, this risk can be particularly troubling.

Family and couples counseling is based on a shared respect for each other and mutual responsibility for the outcome of the relationships. This type of respect typically is not present where violence is involved. Until the violent offender is court ordered or willingly gets help to end the abusive behavior, the victim or victims are at risk in a family or couples counseling setting.

Individual Counseling

However, individual counseling can be particularly helpful in domestic violence situations. Counseling for the victim may help the person recognize a pattern of abuse and develop a safety plan to get themselves and any children involved away from the violence. Counseling can help the abused party cope with the anxiety, fear, stress, and self-esteem issues that arise from such a relationship. Individual counseling for the person committing the offense can also be beneficial. Without the other person or children present to lash out at, the violent offender can potentially get to the root cause of their behavior. Anger management sessions, either in a group or individual setting, is also a useful tool in correcting abusive behavior.

The best course of action for addressing abusive tendencies is for the abuser to work on those issues in a program or counseling session without the victim present. Abuse is not a relationship problem that can simply be worked on in an open, family counseling setting.

For more information, speak to our domestic violence lawyers today.

Domestic Violence Resources in Denver

Posted on: September 3, 2013 by in Domestic Violence
No Comments

Escaping an abusive relationship can be a terrifying position to be in. Victims that leave their partners often have to walk away from their homes and lives as they know it. In cases where children are involved, it can be particularly stressful to uproot their lives as well. Breaking free from violent situations is a commendable action that isn’t easy to take. Fortunately for abuse victims in Denver, Colorado, there are resources available for those in domestic violence relationships and those that are escaping the abuse.

SafeHouse Denver

This agency in Denver was established in 1977 and acts as Denver’s only agency that offers emergency shelter, non-residential counseling, and advocacy services to all ages that are experiencing violence from their partners. The SafeHouse focuses on helping victims in all stages of abuse to help empower them to lead safer, independent lives without abuse or isolation. They offer many services, both in English and Spanish, to victims of abuse. Services include safety planning, counseling, support groups, referrals to community resources, emergency housing, children’s programs, specialized services for bi-women and lesbians, and a 24-hour crisis hotline.

Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, or CCADV, offers their services across the state including the Denver Metro area. The CCADV works as a non-profit organization and has a diverse network of domestic violence advocacy programs throughout the state of Colorado to encourage appropriate responses to domestic, family, and dating violence situations. They offer a wealth of resources online and a list of all of their programs in Colorado. Most of their programs offer advocacy services with trained advocates that can help with safety planning as well as provide information about welfare, disability services, immigration, housing, child protection, and employment protections. Many locations offer emergency shelters and long-term housing options. Emergency financial support is available to those in need. Support groups for adults, youth, and children are available. Legal advocacy is also offered to provide information, but most programs cannot provide legal counsel. They are still a great resource for referrals to free or low-cost attorneys that can handle your case.

Deaf Overcoming Violence through Empowerment (DOVE)

DOVE is devoted to serving victims and survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence in Colorado’s deaf community. DOVE is a non-profit organization that offers free services to empower and give hope to the deaf or hard of hearing that experience abuse. DOVE offers plenty of resources on their website for individuals that need help and encourage victims to reach out to them for support.

Battered Women’s Justice Project

The Battered Women’s Justice Project, or BWJP, promotes innovations in policy and practice to improve the response to violence by the criminal, civil, and military justice systems. The BWJP offers assistance, consultations, and training for advocates and professionals involved in intimate partner violence cases. While the main office is located in Minneapolis, the BWJP is committed to promoting systemic change to aid victims of intimate partner violence across the country. The BWJP is a great resource for anyone working in the domestic violence field.

For more information, speak to a domestic violence lawyer today.

The Consequences of Domestic Violence in Denver

Posted on: August 9, 2013 by in Domestic Violence
No Comments

The city of Denver takes domestic violence cases seriously. Domestic violence offenders can find themselves facing serious consequences, with habitual offenders getting stiffer penalties. Once charges have been brought for domestic violence they cannot be dismissed by anyone but the prosecutor. If you have been accused of domestic violence it’s imperative that you speak with one of our experienced domestic violence attorneys about your case. Here are the consequences that you should expect from a domestic violence charge in Denver, Colorado.

Potential Consequences Before and After Conviction

Everyone is assumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. This is why you should hire a domestic violence attorney to evaluate your case and assist you with the allegation. Domestic violence can lead to civil and criminal consequences such as:

  • Mandatory anger management treatment. Classes are intended to help the offender manage their anger in healthy ways.
  • An order of protection will be issued immediately following the release from jail before the conviction. The protection order will remain in place until the case has been resolved. If the person is charged with domestic violence then the protection order that prohibits contact with the victim or children involved may be extended or made permanent following conviction.
  • Domestic violence charges can result in a permanent criminal record. This includes felony charges. This record can affect future employment opportunities.
  • If you are not a US citizen and you are convicted of domestic violence while in the United States you could potentially face deportation.
  • A conviction can result in the loss of your right to possess or own a weapon or firearm.
  • Potential jail time, imprisonment, and/or hefty fines can all follow a conviction.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody

In addition to the consequences listed above, a domestic violence charge can have a significant impact on child custody in the state of Colorado. The courts will consider if the parent of the child in a custody case has been convicted of domestic violence, including spousal or child abuse. Domestic violence convictions do not automatically mean that the parent will be denied time with the child, but the safety of the minor is a consideration and can affect the amount of parenting time that is allocated.

Each case is treated individually and certain factors are looked at when assigning parenting time. In some cases, it is possible for the parent to still be awarded primary custody if they have a domestic violence conviction. Generally, the court will check if the offender has received counseling or therapy, how long ago the domestic violence was committed, the specific impact of the abuse on the child, the attachment between the parent and the child, and whether or not the convicted parent is capable of putting the minor’s needs before their own.

The court may also put restrictions on the allocated parenting time for the protection of the child. These restrictions may include requiring the exchange of the child to occur at a police station or other public place. Visitation may be required to be supervised by a family member, friend, or trained professional. Custody can be complicated in situations where domestic violence is involved. It’s important to know your rights and enlist the help of a skilled domestic violence attorney.