“No man is above the law and no man is below it; nor do we ask any man’s permission when we ask him to obey it.”
Theodore Roosevelt first spoke these words more than a century ago, but they’re as true today as they ever were. In our criminal justice system, everyone one should be treated fairly—men and women, cops and criminals, and people of all nationalities and backgrounds.
A recent incident involving a Colorado Springs police officer reminds us of this truth. In April, Sergeant Bradley Pratt was arrested on suspicion of criminal trespassing in response to domestic violence complaints. According to his former girlfriend, Pratt had broken into her home after she asked him not to contact her again.
Before his arrest, Pratt had been a respected member of the police force and a detective in the violent crimes unit. He had won numerous awards, including a medal of valor for facing an armed suspected criminal. Now, he is facing a possible felony charge.
What Can We Learn from Sgt. Pratt’s Arrest?
The arrest of a decorated officer reveals that anyone can be charged with domestic violence, and for criminal actions as basic as entering a former romantic’s home without permission.
Whether you are a man, woman, or teen, you may be surprised how easy it can be to find yourself charged with a domestic violence-related offense in Colorado. Any act or threatened act of violence against a person you share or have shared an intimate relationship with can qualify as an act of domestic violence. “Intimate relationship” generally includes current or former spouses, current or former unmarried partners, and parents of the same child.
Typically, Colorado domestic violence crimes can be broken down into three main categories.
Physical. Physical abuse is perhaps the most recognizable type of domestic violence crime, involving the use of physical force against another person. Physical domestic violence could include intentionally hitting, kicking, or harming a current or former partner, as well as physically restraining a victim.
Sexual. Sexual abuse is a very serious form of domestic violence. A wide variety of criminal behaviors could fall under the category of sexual abuse, including sexual assault, rape, forced prostitution, and unwanted touching. You could also be charged with sexual abuse for convincing someone to not use contraception or to have an abortion.
Psychological. You can be charged with psychological abuse for threatening to harm a victim, or for persistently intimidating or attempting to instill fear. Blackmail, threatening to kidnap someone’s children, or harassing someone are possible examples of psychological abuse. In Colorado, stalking is often seen as a type of psychological abuse, since it involves repeated unwanted contact that causes a victim to be fearful.
In Colorado, domestic violence charges cover far more than physical violence between couples. Not only may you face charges for acts of physical violence, but you could be arrested for domestic violence after losing your temper and making insincere threats in a heated argument. Domestic violence goes beyond couples, encompassing anyone you’ve ever been intimate with, regardless how brief or long ago it was.
The consequences for a domestic violence conviction are severe, often including jail time, fines, and completion of a domestic violence treatment program. You could be forbidden from contacting your family or entering your own home, and be permanently stripped of your civil right to bear arms.
If you are facing domestic violence charges in Colorado, a domestic violence attorney can help. Your attorney can evaluate your situation before helping you build a powerful defense that can protect your freedom, family life, and future.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.