The state of Colorado rightly sees domestic violence as a cancer that needs to be wiped out if our most vulnerable citizens are ever going to be able to feel truly safe. Because of this, our statutes on domestic violence are weighted towards empowering alleged victims and making sure that everything is done to punish perpetrators. Case-in-point: when someone in Colorado makes a domestic violence complaint and the police are called in to check it out, an arrest is almost guaranteed – even if there doesn’t seem to be much evidence to support a violent act occurring or the alleged victim swears that nothing happened.
Officials have set it up this way because they know that many victims are afraid to make claims of violence for a variety of reasons. They might worry about reprisal from the accused, be scared about losing their abuser because he or she is the primary breadwinner, or even believe that they deserved what happened to them.
Most people understand and accept this from an intellectual standpoint, but it’s a lot different if you end up getting railroaded for something that you genuinely didn’t do. That’s why evidence in these types of cases is so incredibly important.
Man Fired Due to Abuse Claims Is Rehired After Evidence Surfaces
How important is evidence? In a recent case reported on in the New York Post, a man was fired from his job at Boar’s Head after a coworker (his then-girlfriend) accused him of abusing her at work and he “allegedly choked, punched and threatened to kill her in her office.”
From the article, it’s unclear what evidence Boar’s Head had to support those allegations when they fired the man. What is clear is that the alleged victim apparently lied to her employers about the nature of her relationship with the man. When a sex tape surfaced featuring her and her alleged abuser, Boar’s Head rehired the man and fired his accuser. Now she’s suing Boar’s Head for discriminating against her.
Obviously, this is a very complicated case and it’s impossible to know what really happened simply from reading a news article that leaves out all kinds of information that prosecutors and defense attorneys on the case are privy to. But Boar’s Head’s actions – both in firing the man and then in rehiring him – do very clearly illustrate the power of evidence not just in ultimately proving guilt or innocence, but also to alter the point of view of the people who are on the outside looking in at the incident in question.
What does that mean? Well, when it was just a woman accusing her coworker of abuse and complaining about him, he was being painted in a bad light. Without actually knowing what he did or didn’t do, the accusations certainly made him look bad. But as soon as the sex tape surfaced, the woman started to look like a willing participant who was trying to hurt her then-partner for some reason – especially when you consider the fact that she apparently lied to Boar’s Head about their relationship.
How to Use Evidence to Help Your Case
When you think of evidence that refutes someone’s guilt, you probably imagine things like alibis proving they couldn’t have been involved or eyewitness testimony claiming it was someone else. But while these kinds of things are certainly helpful if they can be proven in your case, charges of domestic violence typically involve evidence that speaks more to character and reliability. That means:
Writing a statement. It doesn’t prove anything, but writing a statement about what happened in your own words can help to refute or at least call into question accounts that don’t match up with yours. If someone else called the police and the alleged victim asserts that no abuse occurred, get them to write a statement as well.
Contacting witnesses. Maybe you got into a screaming match with your partner and they got so angry that they called the police and claimed you hurt them. Most likely there are no eyewitnesses to this event, but that doesn’t mean no one heard. Talk to neighbors and see if they’re willing to say that they only heard yelling – no other noises that they would have associated with physical violence.
Documenting physical damage. If things did get physical – whether that means both of you pushing each other around, throwing objects, or punching walls – do your best to take photos to document everything and offer clear explanations. Sometimes physical harm can be greatly exaggerated in domestic violence claims, so having some kind of evidence about the reality of the damage and how it happened can help.
Proving state of mind. Often, couples get into physical altercations because one or both of them have been drinking or taking some other kind of drug. Evidence of this can not only be used to show that you weren’t in your right state of mind, but also that your accuser wasn’t thinking clearly either. Someone who isn’t thinking clearly isn’t the best witness, so make sure you save copies of any bar receipts or document intoxication in whatever way you can.
Obviously, this isn’t the only kind of evidence that can exist in these types of cases, and there are certainly other defenses that can be used to have your charges reduced or dropped. But because domestic violence charges are so serious and can be attached to sex crimes, assault, and more, it’s important to be aware of all of the different ways that you can protect yourself.
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.