Experienced Family
Law Attorneys
Get Started Today

Is Emotional Abuse a Crime in Colorado?


When most people hear the term, “abuse,” they picture physical violence, such as hitting or kicking a victim. Yet abuse can take many forms, all with the capacity to harm or endanger the target. This includes emotional, verbal and psychological abuse. Emotional abuse is against the law in Colorado, as it is a form of domestic abuse. If your relationship involves emotional abuse, learn how it might affect your family law case.

Can Someone Get Arrested for Emotional Abuse?

Yes. In Colorado, emotional abuse falls under the umbrella of domestic abuse or violence. Colorado Revised Statutes Section 18-6-800.3 makes domestic violence a crime that is punishable by fines and even jail time. If you believe you are being emotionally abused, you can call the police to report domestic abuse and your spouse or household member may be arrested. Colorado’s definition of domestic abuse has the following elements:

  • An act or threatened act of violence when used as a method of control, punishment, coercion, intimidation or revenge. This can include acts that inflict emotional or psychological harm.
  • An intimate relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. This can refer to a spousal relationship, a marriage or two people who share a child.

Domestic violence can also refer to crimes against others in the household, including children, an animal or property. If you call the police regarding emotional abuse, note that the decision of whether to bring charges against the individual will no longer be up to you. Once the police are notified of a domestic abuse or violence situation, it is up to the prosecutor whether that person will face charges, even if you withdraw your allegations later.

Can You Get a Protective Order for Emotional Abuse?

A protective order, also called a restraining order, is a legal document ordering someone to stay away from you and cease all contact or communication. It may be utilized in an emotional abuse case to protect the victim from further harm. You can file a request with the courts for a protective order against your spouse for any type of domestic abuse or violence. You can also submit a request for an emergency protective order, depending on the circumstances. If a child has been endangered or abused in the incident or because of a volatile environment, you can submit a request for emergency child custody.

Does Emotional Abuse Stand Up in Court in Colorado?

Emotional abuse is recognized as a legal cause of action in Colorado. This means it can be used as evidence in a family law case, such as to fight for child custody or alimony. Emotional abuse allegations are reviewed closely by the courts in family law cases in Colorado – especially cases of child emotional or psychological abuse. If the courts find evidence of emotional abuse, this could change the outcome of a case. If a judge believes one parent’s abusive or violent behaviors place a child in reasonable fear of harm – either physical or psychological – a judge may grant primary or full custody to the other parent.

How Do You Prove Emotional Abuse in a Colorado Family Law Case?

Since emotional abuse is viewed as a crime in Colorado, criminal charges or a conviction can be used as evidence against the individual in a family law case. If you called the police to report emotional or psychological abuse, this will go on the record even if the case does not result in an arrest or domestic abuse conviction. Allegations alone on a police report can be enough to prove emotional abuse to the family courts. Other forms of evidence to prove emotional abuse may include your own recollection of the crime, a detailed journal documenting each incident, eyewitness statements and a psychological evaluation of the perpetrator.

Emotional abuse in a relationship can have a major effect on a family law matter. For more information about this area of the law, contact The Law Office of Stephen Vertucci, LLC to request a consultation with an experienced Fort Collins divorce attorney.

Contact Us to Request a Consultation
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.