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What makes a domestic violence charge aggravated?

You may have heard the term “aggravated” in the context of criminal charges such as battery, assault and domestic violence. If you or someone you know is facing the prospect of domestic violence charges, you might be curious about how Colorado law defines an aggravated crime.

The domestic violence enhancement

Colorado law does not define domestic violence as its own separate crime. Instead, domestic violence is an enhancement to an existing charge, such as assault or battery. The court can add this enhancement onto a charge – such as assault, battery, coercion, false imprisonment and so forth – that the actor directs toward an intimate partner or co-habitant.

In other words, if you receive a conviction for committing a battery against an intimate partner, you will face the penalties of a regular conviction for battery. In addition, you could also be subject to the extra penalties that the court could add on because of that battery qualifying as domestic violence.

The aggravated enhancement

Colorado distinguishes between different types of assault by classifying them into three degrees. First degree assault is the most serious, while third degree assault is a misdemeanor, not a felony. Only first and second degree assaults are considered aggravated.

If you intended to cause serious bodily injury or disfigure some through the use of a deadly weapon, or if you engage in extremely risky conduct that puts others in danger, the court could charge you with first degree assault. If you aim that act or behavior towards an intimate partner, the court could elevate the charge to a first degree domestic assault.

Second degree assault is similar to first degree assault, but the difference between them is a matter of the severity of the resulting injury. If your intimate partner sustained injuries from a deadly weapon, but they weren’t serious, the resulting criminal charge could be second degree domestic assault.

There are many different factors that courts consider when deciding which charges to bring against someone. Knowing the factors that the prosecutor will have to prove to convict you can help you to know how best to prepare your defense strategy with your attorney.