Domestic violence is an epidemic throughout the United States, and Colorado has chosen a more aggressive approach than most states in fighting it – but these policies don’t always work in favor of the victim. In fact, victims themselves may even be charged with domestic violence, which can result in jail time, loss of custody, and other serious penalties.
The more you know about the process of being arrested and charged with these crimes, the harder you can fight back for your freedom and safety.
Domestic Violence Is Not Limited to Bodily Injury in Colorado
Most people think domestic violence occurs when someone hits, chokes, or causes physical injury to a family member or significant other. This is true, but it’s not the only definition of domestic violence in Colorado.
A person may also be arrested and charged with domestic violence if they cause harm to a family member or significant other’s personal property. If, for example, your ex-boyfriend hits you and you retaliate by keying his car, peace officers may still arrest you for domestic violence and hit you with charges.
Colorado’s Mandatory Arrest Laws
Incidents of domestic violence are not always easy to understand. A victim may be issuing threats because they are scared. Aggressors may appear calm even as they attack their victims physically or emotionally.
So, how do peace officers who are called to the scene make a decision about “who started it” and who is the true abuser?
One of the most controversial policies in Colorado is mandatory arrest. If a peace officer is called to a scene and has reasonable cause to believe that someone has committed domestic violence, Colorado law dictates that an arrest must be made “without undue delay.”
Even if peace officers would prefer that both parties calm down and explain their story, or that no violence has been committed, someone has to be put in handcuffs.
Unfortunately, in cases of self-defense or miscommunications, officers may arrest the wrong person. Victims who are acting out due to fear or violence may be mistaken for the aggressor and arrested at the scene.
Reports in Colorado have shown that this has happened and that victims have been mistaken for the aggressor – and faced charges.
Once the Accusation Is Made, It Can’t Be Taken Back
Manipulating and abusing partners don’t just use physical violence to hurt their partners. They may lie or make false accusations – some of which could end up as testimony in court.
If law enforcement officers show up to your door and your partner accuses you of domestic violence, you may be arrested.
Unfortunately, once things cool down, your partner can’t “undo” their false accusation. If if they recant and say their earlier statement was false, victims – legitimate or otherwise – cannot drop domestic violence charges. Only state prosecutors can.
Moving Forward After Colorado Domestic Violence Charges
Thankfully, there’s still hope for victims who have been charged, because prosecutors may drop your charges due to lack of evidence, recanted statements, or other factors.
Also, criminal charges do not automatically result in jail time or other penalties. If you have been charged with domestic violence in Colorado, your case can still be closed without a guilty verdict.
However, they won’t be dropped automatically. Defendants need to fight back against charges with the help of a criminal defense lawyer. There are all kinds of defense strategies that someone accused of domestic violence may be able to use – reach out to a knowledgeable attorney who can help you pick the best one for your case.
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.