On Monday, 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson) pleaded not guilty to domestic violence and vandalism charges. Jackson’s ex-girlfriend alleged that he destroyed $7,100 worth of property and kicked her. The judge told Jackson that he was not allowed to have any contact with his ex-girlfriend, including phone or email contact. Jackson is also prohibited from having any weapons. Jackson is set for a pretrial conference on September 4.
In Colorado, domestic violence is not an actual stand alone crime. A person is not charged with domestic violence, but rather is charged with a crime and then the crime is designated an act of domestic violence. For example, if 50 Cent had been charged in Colorado, he would have been charged with third degree assault as an act of domestic violence and criminal mischief as an act of domestic violence. Domestic violence has a particular legal definition and is not limited to actual acts of violence. A person can make series of unwanted phone calls to an ex-girlfriend or boyfriend and, depending on the intent behind those calls, can be charged with phone harassment as an act of domestic violence and be subject to the same treatment as a person who actually assaults or physically harasses. Or, as in the case of 50 Cent, a person can break another person’s belongings, and depending on the reason for the vandalism, can be charged with criminal mischief as an act of domestic violence.
However, the fact that domestic violence is not a stand alone crime does not mean it is not serious. Designating a crime as an act of domestic violence is a type of sentence enhancer, meaning the designation can make a sentence more severe. This is because if a person pleads guilty to or is otherwise convicted of a crime that is an act of domestic violence, Colorado law mandates domestic violence treatment. This treatment is tailored to a certain extent to the individual person, but is nonetheless burdensome and can be expensive. This treatment is in addition to all of the other consequences that can be imposed for the actual crime itself. Furthermore, in Colorado, if a person has too many prior domestic violence related convictions, a person can be charged as a habitual offender, which can also result in a more severe sentence.
In addition to the immediate sentencing consequences, if a person is even charged with an act of domestic violence, the person must be arrested and placed on a no bond hold until a mandatory protection order can be entered. The protection order must be entered before the charged person can be released on bond. Typically, the protection order will list the alleged victim and frequently will prevent the charged person from having any contact with the named victim, even if the named victim wants to be able to have contact with the charged person. This restriction can sometimes be changed, but is an argument that would need to be made to a judge. The protection order also prohibits the charged person from possessing any firearms. Even after the case is over, if a person has a conviction for an act of domestic violence, this conviction can have long-lasting effects on a person’s right to own or possess weapons in the future.
If you have been charged with an act of domestic violence, it is important to get an attorney who can help you navigate the system. Please contact us for a free consultation. (303) 758-7700.