I often get calls from alleged victims in domestic violence cases. Most frequently,they are calling to find out how to get the charges dropped against the defendant as quickly possible. The fact is that there is no magic wand to wave to make a domestic violence case go away once a call to police has been made and the defendant has been arrested, and that is because in Colorado the victim has no right or ability to “drop the charges”.
However, that’s not to say that a victim can’t help, should they want to. A victim can retain a defense attorney for the defendant, or contact the defendant’s defense attorney and offer any assistance they can provide.
As a routine practice I contact the victim in every domestic violence case I handle. While I cannot provide them with legal advice,such contact is often helpful towards achieving my client’s goals. Obtaining an attorney is probably the most important step for any defendant in a domestic violence case to attain a goal of dismissal, although dismissal is not always possible in every case.
As the alleged victim, you will be contacted by either the prosecutor themselves or a victim’s advocate, or possibly both. Your position will be asked in reference to such significant questions as bond, the restraining order, and even any possible plea bargain that may be extended in the case. While the prosecution is not required to strictly follow your desires in all of these matters, the prosecution is required to consult with you or at least make legitimate attempts to consult with you prior to extending any offer in the case.
Sometimes I get told by alleged victims that they do not intend on showing up in court to testify against the defendant. The prosecution will attempt to serve you. Once you are served, you have a legal obligation to appear.
I also get asked whether a person can show up in court, once served, and simply refuse to testify. The answer to that question, generally speaking, is no. If you are subpoenaed to testify and show up but refuse to say anything, you can be held in contempt of court. Contempt of court can result in a jail sentence. However, if you have a valid 5th amendment privilege and assert that privilege, and the court is satisfied that privilege has been asserted appropriately, then you may be excused.
If you are the victim in a domestic violence case and have questions about the criminal court process, call a criminal defense attorney to assist.
For more information on Domestic Violence law in Colorado, visit her domestic violence page here.