Over the last few decades, lawmakers have come to recognize that domestic violence is a serious issue in our country. Charges and penalties have been increased to punish offenders and serve as a deterrent to anyone who might be inclined to engage in this kind of behavior.
But in an effort to protect victims, we have turned domestic violence charges into something that can completely derail an individual’s life. If you are convicted on a domestic violence charge, you can face fines, jail time, lose your right to own a gun, and even be deported.
Every domestic violence case is different, though. Perhaps it was a one-time thing and you acted in a moment of passion. Maybe you said something you didn’t mean in a fight, having no idea that it technically counted as a form of domestic violence. The charges themselves might even be bogus.
Whatever your situation, an experienced Colorado domestic violence attorney will be able to craft a defense strategy for you designed to prove your innocence or reduce the penalties and charges you’re up against.
Below you’ll find several recommendations and strategies that a seasoned criminal lawyer might want to utlilize on your case, depending on the specifics.
Gain a Thorough Understanding of Colorado’s Domestic Violence Laws. In Colorado, domestic violence is not a crime on its own; it is only used in court when added on to an existing charge. And that’s just the beginning of the complexities. Colorado has a broad definition of domestic violence that includes acts that range from assault to robbery to destruction of property to disturbing the peace. The best way to understand exactly what you’re being charged with and what you’re up against is to consult with a knowledgeable lawyer.
Follow Colorado’s Mandatory Protection Order. If you are arrested for domestic violence in Colorado, you will be released only after you sign a mandatory protection order stating you will refrain from contact and communication with the victim and stay away from the victim’s home. Attempting contact or communication will only give the prosecution more ammunition against you. It is essential to follow the order until your court date.
The protection order also states that you must relinquish your firearms. If you possess a firearm, even a legally registered firearm, you must surrender it until the order is lifted. If convicted, you will permanently lose the right to own a gun.
In addition to these basic restrictions, individual protection orders often contain provisions unique to the case. Be sure to have your defense lawyer walk you through each part of the mandatory protection order.
Present Legal Justification. There are a few different strategies to prove that your actions were legally justified. Some of the legal justifications in a situation of domestic violence include using self-defense or using violence to defend the safety of a child.
Prove Illegal Procedures. Your attorney can also present evidence that your charge has not been handled properly. You case may be dropped if, for example, your rights were not read to you, or an illegal search was done of your person or property. Any evidence that your case was mishandled will benefit you in court.
Prove False Accusation. Sometimes a misunderstanding or a false accusation can result in a domestic violence charge. According to Colorado law, even if a victim wants to drop charges, you will still be charged with domestic violence by the state – only the prosecutor can drop your charges.
If there is factual evidence that you were not involved in committing domestic violence, collect and present that evidence with your defense lawyer. Conversely, if there is no factual evidence that you did commit domestic violence, you cannot be convicted. You are innocent until proven guilty.
Communicate That This Charge Is an Isolated Incident. Even with substantial evidence stacked against you, it is likely you can negotiate a lesser sentence if you can prove the incident was out of the ordinary and will not happen in the future. This is especially effective if you have no prior charges on your record. If using this strategy for your case, express your deepest regrets and explain to the judge that he or she will not see you again as a repeat offender.
Be Open to Rehabilitation. If the case involves drugs or alcohol, you can express desire to attend a rehabilitation program to assure that you will not find yourself in another domestic violence situation. If your case involves your significant other, you can present evidence that you are seeking relationship counseling or therapy.
In some cases, this will help to lessen your sentence. Rehabilitation or counseling may also play into negotiations executed by your defense attorney. That’s why it’s crucial to hire an attorney who knows all of your options and how to negotiate to get you the best deal.
Consult with Experienced Domestic Violence Attorneys. A domestic violence conviction comes with many consequences. But these consequences can be avoided – or at least alleviated – by crafting an effective defense strategy. The most important key to a great defense strategy is getting a skilled criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
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.