It is natural for people who live together as a couple to act out or allow tempers to flare occasionally, particularly when they are experiencing high levels of stress due to jobs, finances and other factors. Arguments that escalate may lead to a domestic disturbance call to the police. In fact, according to the most recent Colorado Springs Police Department Annual Statistical Report, officers responded to over 12,000 domestic disturbance calls.
When one party accuses the other of violence, the situation becomes critical for the one now facing charges.
What is domestic violence?
Every state has its own definition of domestic violence. Colorado's statute, Title 18 Criminal Code § 18-6-8003, states that domestic violence is either an act of violence or the threat of it against an intimate or formerly intimate partner.
Even if the threat of violence is not present, people may violate the second part of this statute if they commit a crime in order to intimidate, punish, coerce, control or get revenge against the partner or former partner. An example of domestic violence that does not involve violence, per se, may be a threat that if a partner does not act in a certain way, the other will harm the family pet or disable the car.
What do the police look for?
When the police respond to a domestic violence charge, the investigation is likely to involve the following:
- Obtaining statements from the parties involved
- Documenting the emotional state of each of the parties
- Examining and photographing alleged injuries
- Searching for signs of physical struggles in the home
- Noting signs of intoxication and drug use
- Questioning witnesses
The report of the investigation will also include a recording or transcript of the phone call and previous criminal records of each party, particularly regarding violence.
What are common defense strategies?
The defense attorney for a client may discover procedural errors in the police investigation, such as a lack of probable cause for a search or failure to take a statement from the person accused. A lack of solid evidence against the person charged with domestic violence is a good sign that the accusation is an outright lie. The case may involve self-defense, or the accused person may have caused harm by accident.
No matter what, a person facing charges must be completely honest with his or her attorney in providing an account of the circumstances, or the defense strategy may not hold up in court.