Many domestic violence allegations are legitimate cries for help, and they should absolutely be taken seriously. However, false claims do unfortunately occur in Colorado from time to time.
False claims of domestic violence are a disservice not only to the person accused and to any children from the relationship, but also to the millions of Americans who are genuine victims of domestic violence.
Unfortunately, failing to investigate a claim could result in serious injury or even the death of the victim. This means that police must investigate all claims of domestic violence. Which also means that any false claims can have grave consequences – even if the accused did nothing wrong.
So, why would someone ever make a false claim of domestic violence?
There are many reasons, which could include attempts to gain legal leverage, malice, or a genuine misunderstanding of some kind.
It could damage the alleged perpetrator’s relationships. Their reputation. And, if convicted, they would suffer severe criminal consequences.
In order to help Coloradans facing false allegations of domestic violence, we have provided a guide detailing why false allegations are made, the consequences you could face if convicted, and what to do if you are falsely accused of domestic violence.
Motives for False Allegations of Domestic Violence in Colorado
As mentioned above, there are a number of reasons why people make false domestic violence claims. Below, we’re going to delve into four of the most common.
Gaining Advantage in Child Custody Cases. In a child custody case, the safety and well-being of the child is the first priority of the court. If one parent wants to gain leverage in a child custody case, he or she may file for a restraining order based on false allegations of domestic violence.
In this situation, the court may rule in favor of the alleged victim, even if the alleged abuser is never convicted of domestic violence. To maintain custody of the children, the accused will have to provide compelling evidence to prove that the claim is false.
Monetary and Property Incentives. Victims of domestic violence are often awarded domestic violence relief in the form of monetary compensation or personal property.
This is intended to protect genuine victims, who often refrain from filing domestic violence charges due to financial dependence on the abuser. However, this can also be exploited by dishonest individuals who are merely looking for monetary gain.
Misinformed Advice. Sometimes false domestic violence allegations are made based on a misunderstanding. For example, persons holding certain occupations, such as teachers and healthcare providers, are obligated to report suspected abuse. These individuals may make a report based on a misunderstanding of fact.
In other cases, the alleged victim may not understand what constitutes domestic violence in Colorado, or they might have been given misinformed advice from a loved one or counselor.
Alleged Victim is Unstable. In very rare cases, the alleged victim may be unstable, and make allegations of domestic violence based on events that did not occur, but that he or she believes did occur.
Consequences of a Colorado Domestic Violence Conviction
In Colorado, domestic violence is generally charged as a misdemeanor-level offense, unless the alleged abuser has prior domestic violence convictions, or there is evidence of grievous bodily injury to the alleged victim. Regardless of the level of offense, you will still be left with a criminal record that will come back to haunt you.
Depending on the circumstances, there are a number of civil consequences for domestic violence:
- You may be ordered to complete a domestic violence treatment program.
- If you own firearms, you may be required to relinquish your guns, and will not be allowed to possess or buy any guns or ammunition. You may give the gun to someone else or arrange for it to be stored.
- Your accuser may be granted an order of protection. In this case, you cannot make any form of contact with the accuser, and if you live together, you must vacate your dwelling or provide housing for the alleged victim.
If You are Falsely Accused of Colorado Domestic Violence
If you are facing false allegations of domestic violence, it is imperative to take this matter seriously, and respond proactively.
Consult with a criminal defense attorney as soon as you are able to give yourself the best chance at a positive outcome. If the domestic violence claims are tied to a divorce or child custody battle, you may also need to seek out the counsel of a family lawyer.
If you suspect that the accuser has made these allegations for financial incentives (for example, a divorce settlement), it is important to protect yourself financially. A divorce attorney can help you learn how to protect your finances so that you can get a more even split if the accuser decides to file for divorce.
Ultimately, every domestic violence case is different, but the stakes are always high for the accused – and potentially the victim. That’s why it’s so important to react quickly and appropriately to any domestic violence allegations, regardless of their validity.
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.