What do I do if I have been charged with a domestic violence charge? "Domestic Violence" is a label for a type of case, it is not, by itself, a criminal charge. There must be an underlying charge. For example, the most common charges in a Domestic Violence case in the state of Colorado are:
- Third Degree Assault
- False Imprisonment
- Violation of Restraining Order
Of course, Domestic Violence can involve crimes as serious as murder. However, the vast majority of Domestic Violence or "DV" cases involve the misdemeanors listed above. What classifies a case as a DV case is an intimate relationship between the defendant and the alleged victim. It can be either a present or former relationship. At trial, the prosecutor must request that the case be designated as a DV case - and then must elicit evidence that such a relationship exists or existed in the past. If it is determined that it is "Domestic Violence", this acts as a sentence enhancer, increasing jail time - and will add treatment terms to probation such as 36 Domestic Violence classes (mandatory). A conviction for a Domestic Violence charge in Colorado can also have enormous career implications, as many industries and professions will not employ those with a DV conviction.
There is a strong social moral among most people in society, and most jurors, that we must crack down on Domestic Violence. It has reached the point of hysteria in modern times. Of course, violence of any kind is a serious social concern. The problem is, it is such a hot-button, emotional issue at this point that it creates a bias, and an anger - and a readiness to convict - at the mere utterance of the phrase "Domestic Violence".
Even if the alleged victim comes forward and admits that she was never assaulted - she is labeled a "recanting victim", and the prosecutor will still try to convict you. The prosecutor might call a "Domestic Violence Expert" to take the stand and say that every alleged victim who now says it didn't happen is lying - that this is a typical part of the "cycle of violence", and that the victim is only trying to protect the accused at trial. And yet, nowhere in criminal law are there more false accusations than in DV cases. One spouse gets angry at the other, feels powerless and futile, and recognizes that there is power in picking up the phone and dialing 911. A skilled trial attorney is able to: Dispel the bias and prejudice that potential jurors might have when they first arrive for jury duty, making sure that they look fairly at ALL of the facts. Point out the motives of the false accuser, and the surrounding circumstances that created enough anger to lie - in an attempt to use the Justice System to assert personal control over the other. Dispel the myth that only men are violent at home.
Attack the faulty, unsubstantiated claims of the Domestic Violence Expert that recanting victims can't be trusted because this is part of the cycle of violence.