If you are standing on the sidewalk in front of a restaurant and you get in a fight with another person who thinks, for example, that you cut in front of him or her in line to get a table, you could be charged with assault for striking that person. However, if you strike your spouse, you could instead be charged with domestic violence. Since both incidents involve the same action on your part, does the domestic violence charge really replace the assault charge, just because it happened in the home?
The answer is rather complex. In some cases, you may really just get domestic violence charges, but in other cases, you could see charges both for domestic violence and for assault and battery. No two cases are the same, which is why it is important for you to really understand the exact charges that you face in Colorado, allowing you to set up a proper criminal defense case.
One thing to note, though, is that the prosecution may try to get a sentence for domestic violence that is harsher than what you'd see for the assault charge alone. This has to do with the fact that domestic violence is typically a cycle, meaning that the abuse may happen time and time again, followed by apologies each time. This is seen as an abuse of a family member's affection and trust, so prosecutors may want a harsh sentence on those grounds.
No matter what charges you face, you deserve a fair trial, and the first step is determining exactly what charges have been leveled and what your best defense tactic should be.
Source: FindLaw, "Domestic Violence" accessed Feb. 10, 2015