Legal Defense For Women Charged with Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a term used to describe physical, psychological, financial, or emotional abuse committed against an intimate or family partner. In Colorado, acts of domestic violence are not only committed by men, and female arrests are more common than most people think.
If you have been wrongfully arrested or charged for domestic violence, contact Dolan + Zimmerman LLP. We will review your case and can discuss your legal options in a free consultation.
Why Choose Our Firm?
- We take every case of domestic abuse seriously, and each client is given access to the legal support and guidance they need.
- We understand the gravity of the effects these cases can have on your life and will handle your legal matters with the discretion and professionalism they deserve.
- We adopt a team approach in order to provide our clients with the best and most effective service.
Why You Need an Attorney for Your Female Domestic Violence Case
The view of women as perpetrators of domestic violence is being taken more seriously. If you are involved in a domestic dispute, you should treat your situation with the same care as if you committed the assault. Even in same-sex relationships, domestic violence is handled in the same way as an abused partner in a heterosexual relationship.
Domestic violence is a severe criminal offense in Colorado. If you’re involved in a domestic violence incident, you must consult with an attorney before speaking to anyone. Whether you’re the accused or the victim, police officers and court officials often use your words against you. An experienced female domestic violence lawyer in Boulder knows the state’s applicable laws and their legal consequences. They will work hard to protect and preserve your rights.
Colorado’s Mandatory Arrest Law
Colorado has mandatory arrest laws for domestic violence. Under these laws, police officers responding to the scene of a domestic violence incident are authorized to arrest the suspected perpetrator immediately. As a result, this law is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. Sometimes the abuser in the relationship may use mandatory arrest laws to their advantage to get their intimate partner, who is the victim, arrested. This, unfortunately, occurs often when a victim is acting in self-defense and leaves a mark on their abusive partner. Since an arrest is based on circumstance, the officers may believe the victim was the perpetrator and wrongfully charge them with domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Charges and Penalties in Colorado
Under Colorado law, domestic violence is defined as, “an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.” (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-6-800.3.)
However, domestic violence is not a crime in and of itself. It is a sentence or punishment enhancement attached to a separate criminal offense, such as assault. Reports of domestic violence are taken very seriously by the courts and law enforcement. Typically, when the police show up after a domestic violence incident report, an arrest is mandatory even if the alleged victim does not want to press charges.
The alleged perpetrator will be sent to jail immediately and cannot be released on bail until a hearing can be held—a process which can mean having to remain in jail for two to five days. A domestic violence charge always triggers a mandatory protection order (also known as a restraining order). Once a judge approves the alleged perpetrator’s release, they must avoid the accuser, which means they cannot return home if the alleged victim resides within the same household. The use of alcohol is also prohibited. A restraining order typically also means surrendering any firearms to law enforcement, a dealer, or another private party.
Penalties for a domestic violence conviction will depend on the underlying charge and any previous offenses. The defendant (perpetrator) may be ordered to be evaluated and complete a domestic violence treatment program, and the restraining order may be extended. If it is the defendant’s fourth conviction involving domestic violence, they are labeled as a habitual domestic violence offender, which is a class 5 felony. A class 5 felony carries a punishment of up to three years in prison with mandatory two-year parole and/or a fine between $1,000 to $100,000.
Studies Shifting Focus to Women as Domestic Violence Perpetrators
A survey completed in 1975 showing women as often being the aggressor in domestic violence has stirred controversy ever since. The National Family Violence Survey conducted by sociologists at the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire demonstrated that men were just as likely as women to report being hit. Initially, it was assumed that these women acted in self-defense, but subsequent surveys showed that women were just as likely as men to initiate violence.
Two other significant studies, including the National Violence Against Women Survey in 2000 and the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey published in 2010— also found that approximately 40 percent of those reporting serious partner violence were men. Both studies also show a large gender gap in the number of lifetime reports of domestic violence. A possible explanation for this discrepancy is that men have less support for seeing themselves as victims of female violence.
Same-sex relationships are also not exempt from abusive behavior. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published another National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey in 2013. This study showed that women involved in same-sex relationships reported levels of intimate partner violence equal to or higher than those of heterosexuals.
Why Domestic Violence Against Men is Underreported
There are many reasons why domestic violence against men is underreported. Here are examples of a few:
- Socialized to Repress Feelings: Most people think that it is not possible for men to be victims of domestic abuse. Because of such a general mindset in society, men often deny or are unable to recognize their own victimization.
- Stereotypes: Men are typically portrayed as the perpetrators of domestic violence and women as the victims, so there has been no such system for men to come forward about abuse or violence.
- Abuse of Men Is Minimized or Dismissed: Women are considered incapable of causing the same degree of harm that men can inflict upon women. When men do seek help, their experiences are often minimized or dismissed.
- Limited Resources: Services for domestic violence are often catered towards female victims. Men are generally underserved when it comes to accessing counseling, crisis centers, victim services, and domestic abuse shelters, all of which factor into the growing reluctance of reporting their experiences.
Domestic Violence Statistics in Colorado
- 36.8 percent of women and 30.5 percent of men in Colorado experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetime.
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the U.S. have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.
- In 2018, 32 Coloradans were killed by former or current intimate partners; almost two-thirds of those were with the use of firearms.
- Intimate partners committed 15 percent of homicides that took place in Colorado in 2019.
- A survey from 2019 of 88 percent of Colorado domestic violence programs found that on the day of the survey, 1,221 adults and children were served, and on that same day, 269 needs were unmet due to a lack of resources.
- More than 230,000 Colorado women are stalked during their lifetimes.
- At the end of 2019, Colorado had submitted 419 domestic violence misdemeanor and 330 active protective order records to the NICS Index.
These statistics are courtesy of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
Common Types of Female Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can come in many different forms, including:
- Verbal insults
- Unrelenting criticism designed to humiliate or belittle the victim
- Isolating an intimate partner from friends/family and restricting their freedoms
- Spiritual abuse
Any activity that can cause physical pain or injury to the victim.
- Pushing, kicking, slapping, punching or scratching, pulling or ripping out hair, strangling, biting, spitting, etc.
- Throwing objects at or near partner
- Use of a weapon
- Depriving an intimate partner of basic requirements such as food, shelter, medical care, and sleep
Use of physical force or pressure to compel a partner to have sex in a way they do not want to. Sexual abuse can also involve withholding affection or sex as a form of punishment.
Psychological Abuse and Intimidation Tactics
Any use of words or actions to scare a partner.
- Destroying property
- Uttering death threats or creating a sense that punishment is imminent
- Controlling finances
- Controlling what the victim can and cannot do
- Stalking or harassing
What if the Alleged Domestic Violence Victim Wants to Drop the Charges?
Because of the highly emotional nature of domestic violence incidents, it is relatively commonplace for an alleged domestic violence victim to retract their accusations. However, even if an alleged victim no longer wishes to pursue a case once the situation has calmed, the charge cannot be dropped in Colorado. The prosecution can still proceed with the criminal case.
Colorado law limits the discretion of law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges in domestic violence cases to achieve uniformity in how they are handled. Sometimes those wrongfully accused of domestic violence must face severe consequences as a guilty but innocent offender. The only exception is if the prosecutor tells the judge they are unable to prove domestic violence occurred. Then the charges may be dismissed.
These strict domestic violence laws have been established in Colorado to protect the victims of abuse and prevent charges from being dropped for reasons unrelated to the legalities of the case.
What to Do if I Have Been Falsely Accused of Female Domestic Violence in Colorado?
If you have been falsely accused of female domestic violence, it is highly recommended to take the following steps:
A domestic violence situation can be emotionally charged, but any outbursts can negatively impact the case against you and make it harder for law enforcement to believe you are innocent.
Comply With Law Enforcement
Do not resist or argue with the officers if you are arrested for domestic violence. Being uncooperative can leave a wrong impression when it comes to deciding who will be charged.
Do not answer any questions or offer any information. Anything you say can be twisted and used to substantiate any charges filed against you.
Contact a Lawyer
Speak to a Boulder female domestic violence attorney as soon as possible. According to your Miranda rights, you legally do not need to speak until your legal representative is at your side.
Do Not Violate the Restraining Order
If a restraining order has already been issued against you, do not violate its terms once you are released from jail. The alleged victim may try to lure you into a situation that forces you to breach the order, which can result in further legal consequences. Keep a record of their requests to meet and of any sightings of them on your property to demonstrate they do not see you as a threat.
Stick to Your Defense
Changing your story or giving too many contradicting accounts of the situation can hurt your defense. Stay calm throughout the court proceedings, as the prosecution will attempt to bait you into an outburst. Stand by your claim that you are innocent and always follow the advice of your attorney.
We’re Here to Fight for Your Future
It can feel like all hope is lost following an arrest on false domestic violence charges. However, there are steps that can be taken to point out the weaknesses in your case and aggressively fight for your future.
At Dolan + Zimmerman LLP, our team of trusted Boulder criminal defense attorneys helps individuals in Boulder fight their charges and move forward with their lives. Contact us today to schedule a free case review and discuss your legal options.