Domestic violence charges are inherently personal and complex. They represent situations where testimony is extremely subjective and facts are hard to prove. Given this, any objective evidence presented can significantly sway a Colorado domestic violence case. By preserving evidence immediately after an altercation, you can protect your side of the story and clear your name of any damaging charges.
In the following sections, we’ll examine several categories of evidence that can best help tell the story of your case, as well as some of the most common ways to collect that evidence. Additionally, we’ll discuss common defense strategies against false accusations, how evidence can be questioned, and how expert criminal defense attorneys can use that evidence to attack the prosecution’s case.
Types of Evidence in Domestic Violence Cases:
In domestic violence cases, physical evidence is often the key to a solid defense. Pictures and videos from the altercation not only document injuries they also provide location information and time stamps. You may think that taking photographic evidence is reserved for alleged victims, but this evidence can be used just as easily to defend your innocence. If things become heated with a spouse or partner, take a video of their erratic behavior or threats. If they damage or destroy property, take videos or pictures so the destruction is not blamed on you later. Both sides of a domestic violence issue can benefit from empirical evidence about what exactly happened.
Another form of physical evidence is damaged or destroyed property. Items that are thrown or otherwise used as intimidation can be seen as objective proof that you were threatened prior to the alleged domestic violence incident and that the whole situation wasn’t as one-sided as the prosecution wants to claim. When the broken property in your home aligns with your sequence of events, it can bolster a claim of self-defense or show a jury that things are far more complicated than the accuser says.
Again, you may think of medical reports as evidence used to strengthen a victim’s case, and you’d be right. But documented medical evidence of your own injuries, as well as pre-existing injuries to the alleged victim, is just as vital to your testimony. Evidence of injuries on both sides can cement your self-defense claim and call your accuser’s narrative into question.
The Victim’s Testimony
The evidence that usually starts domestic violence claims is typically the victim’s statement, and it is incredibly important to treat each case seriously. Relationships that lead to domestic violence allegations are often complicated, rocky, or downright broken. Things may be said and done in the heat of passion when emotions boil over that all parties later regret.
That being said, the impact of false accusations on a person’s life and reputation can be devastating. Domestic violence is one of the gravest criminal offenses, and contrary to popular belief, an alleged victim cannot simply withdraw charges later on. Knowing the weight these allegations carry, some people may be tempted to make false claims based on ulterior motives.
Child custody, revenge, or even just seeking attention can all be motivations for false domestic violence accusations. Lying under oath during formal investigations may result in criminal charges against the accuser. Although rare, accusers can also face charges for filing false police reports.
The Attorneys at the Law Offices of Clifton Back have seen literally thousands of these scenarios play out and understand how to point out all of the ulterior motives, inconsistencies, and false statements to a jury.
Penalties for Domestic Violence in Colorado
Domestic violence charges in Colorado carry a long-term impact. Many believe the accuser can simply drop charges, and all of the legal penalties immediately stop. This is not true. Domestic partner abuse allegations that are quickly recanted arouse suspicion in law enforcement. Furthermore, “dropping charges” against the accused is only helpful if the accuser’s testimony is the only evidence. If any other types of evidence mentioned above are present, the prosecution will likely continue to pursue the charges.
Unlike many other states, in Colorado, Domestic Violence is not a charge in and of itself. It is a category used to enhance underlying offenses (Assault, Menacing, Kidnapping, etc.). Indeed, an accused may be charged with any number of offenses, and if it allegedly involved “an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship,”₁ then it can be labeled as a domestic violence offense.
Penalties for domestic violence offenders include protection orders, loss of Second Amendment gun rights, house arrest, mandatory treatment programs, and any additional fines or jail time associated with the event. Any misdemeanor offense automatically becomes a Class 5 felony if the accused has three or more prior convictions of any offenses that constituted domestic violence, bringing relatively minor offenses to a range of up to three years in Colorado state prison and two years of mandatory parole. Fines at this level can reach as high as $100,000, and prison sentences can increase based on any underlying offense.
The long-term impact of even one domestic violence accusation can extend beyond the legal realm and into the personal and professional arenas. Employment opportunities and child custody agreements may be significantly hindered. Everything from military status to loan applications to obtaining professional licenses can be affected by these charges. That’s why it’s so important to skillfully defend yourself against domestic violence allegations using the advice of our experienced criminal defense team.
Defending Against Domestic Violence Accusations
The best way to win a domestic abuse case is to defend against the underlying charge. This can mean preventing incriminating evidence from being allowed, arguing that an event never occurred or things didn’t go the way the accuser said, or legally maneuvering to get the case dismissed in its entirety. Common scenarios involve, an unintended accident had occurred, that self-defense was required, or that the accusations that the alleged victim made were false.
Additionally, attacking the nature of the relationship itself can be effective. The domestic violence enhancement can be dismissed if you can provide evidence of “lack of intimacy.” Domestic violence penalties are added to regular assault penalties, meaning sentences can be more lenient if you prove you were not in a relationship with the accuser. This would involve providing texts or emails from the accuser, as well as your own video or audio recordings, testimony from your friends, or even therapist notations of stalking or unwanted attention.
Choose The Law Offices of Clifton Black, P.C., For All Your Criminal Defense Needs
Domestic violence cases are among the most sensitive and intricate legal matters. The subjective nature of testimonies and the personal stakes involved make objective evidence crucial for both the accuser and the accused. Whether it’s photographic evidence, medical reports, or victim testimonies, each piece plays a vital role in shaping the narrative of a case. Colorado’s strict penalties for domestic violence offenses highlight the necessity for solid defense and a clear understanding of your rights.
The Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC, has been a trusted name in Colorado for over two decades. If you or someone you know is seeking expert legal counsel, don’t wait. Contact us today for a free consultation at (719) 328-1616. Your defense and future may hinge on the expertise and dedication of your chosen legal team. Choose wisely. Choose the Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC.
₁ Colorado Revised Statutes 18-6-800.3(1)