Updated: July 10, 2023 | Original Post: March 11, 2019
Hiring an Experienced Lawyer Is The First Step Towards Avoiding the Lasting Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction
Given the severe consequences that follow a conviction, getting Colorado domestic violence charges dropped or reduced is a matter of the utmost importance to those accused. But doing so requires an experienced domestic violence defense attorney who understands the law, the defenses available against such charges, and how to persuade prosecutors into agreeing to a more favorable outcome.
If you are facing these charges and you value your reputation, your relationships with your children, friends, and colleagues, and your freedom, hiring an attorney should be your first and highest priority if you face domestic violence charges.
What You’ll Learn in This Post:
- Given the severe consequences of a charge and conviction, it is critical that your attorney attempt to get domestic violence charges dropped or reduced.
- Colorado’s “no drop” policy means that prosecutors won’t drop charges just because the alleged victim asks them to, but a skilled attorney can raise several issues and defenses that may convince prosecutors of the weakness of their case.
- A defense attorney can challenge the credibility and admissibility of evidence and witnesses and produce evidence favorable to the defense, and an uncooperative victim may undermine the entire case.
Table of Contents:
- Even Before a Conviction, Domestic Violence Charges Can Upend Your Life
- “No Drop” Policy, Even if Alleged Victim Recants
- Here is Why You Want to Get Domestic Violence Charges Dropped or Reduced
- How a Good Defense Attorney Can Persuade Prosecutors to Drop or Reduce Charges
Even Before a Conviction, Domestic Violence Charges Can Upend Your Life
While getting domestic violence charges dropped or reduced can spare you from the most severe penalties, the disruption and upheaval caused by an allegation of domestic violence start from the moment police arrive on the scene.
Even if the claim against you seems weak when they show up in response to an incident, Colorado law is very specific about what Colorado Springs law enforcement must do with an alleged perpetrator if they find probable cause to believe there has been an act of domestic violence. And what they must do is arrest you, charge you, and take you to jail. The “probable cause” to support this treatment can be nothing more than an accusation, even if there is no other evidence to suggest you did anything wrong.
An El Paso County judge will also impose a mandatory restraining order against you that will prevent any contact between you and the the alleged victim(s). This may extend to other alleged victims, granting temporary care and control of your children to your spouse or keeping you away from the family home.
“No Drop” Policy, Even If Alleged Victim Recants
Once prosecutors charge you with domestic violence, you’ll soon learn that Colorado has a “no-drop” policy in these cases. One aspect of this policy is that even if your spouse, significant other, or other accuser asks prosecutors to drop the charges, they will not do so.
Prosecutors won’t take into consideration that the two of you have kissed and made up.
The only circumstances when an El Paso County prosecutor can have domestic violence charges dropped is when they tell a judge that they do not have enough credible, admissible evidence to prove that you committed the crime – or when a defense attorney raises facts and defenses that effectively undermine the prosecution’s case.
Here Is Why You Want To Get Domestic Violence Charges Dropped or Reduced
Prosecutors can pursue domestic violence charges as misdemeanors or felonies. As part of their efforts on your behalf, your Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer will try to keep the charges at the misdemeanor level.
While jail time is possible for a first-time misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, the typical penalty is 24 months of supervised or unsupervised probation and mandatory domestic violence counseling. The probation terms will likely limit your freedom of movement, require frequent check-ins and reporting, and place other burdens on your life during the probationary period. Judges can also use their discretion to impose community service and fines.
Related Reading: Misdemeanor vs Felony: What’s the Difference?
If you face subsequent domestic violence charges, prosecutors will use any prior misdemeanor domestic violence convictions as a basis for charging you with a class 5 felony.
Your domestic violence conviction will also be part of your criminal record, which will be publicly available and could impede future employment, housing, and financial opportunities. Your conviction will likely be used against you in any divorce proceedings and may threaten your custody and visitation rights.
Additionally, the mandatory protection order issued at the time of your arrest will stay in place until you complete your sentence unless your attorney can have the order modified or withdrawn at the time of sentencing.
A class 5 felony conviction in Colorado comes with a sentence of one to three years in state prison, a fine of between $1,000 and $100,000, or both. Under the law, prosecutors can present evidence that earlier convictions for such offenses as disturbing the peace or assault “included an act of domestic violence,” even if juries in those previous cases did not come to the same conclusion.
How an Experienced Defense Attorney Can Persuade Prosecutors to Reduce or Drop Charges
In conjunction with other challenges prosecutors may face, your criminal defense attorney can call into question the credibility of witnesses and the sufficiency and admissibility of the evidence, making pursuing the case difficult or impossible for prosecutors – resulting in having your domestic violence charges dropped.
Here are three reasons Colorado Springs prosecutors may drop a domestic violence case:
While an allegation alone may be enough to support your arrest, prosecutors will need more than that to prove you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. They are unlikely to be able to do so if:
- there is no physical evidence of the alleged incident;
- other than the alleged victim, no other witnesses can credibly testify about what occurred;
- there are no recordings, writings, videos, or other physical evidence of threats or physical acts;
- there is no evidence of prior actions, threats, arrests, or convictions.
Evidence Favorable To Your Defense
One of the most important things you can do after someone accuses you of domestic violence is to document everything that happened. The more contemporaneous records and evidence you have, the more support you’ll have for your side of what often comes down to a “he said/she said” situation.
In many cases, the person accused of domestic violence is actually the victim and can suffer “defensive injuries” trying to protect themselves. These can include scratch marks, bite wounds, bruises, lacerations, and other injuries. Document any injuries by taking photos immediately after the occurrence. Such evidence can go a long way in dissuading prosecutors from moving forward.
The Alleged Victim Is Uncooperative
While, as noted, an alleged domestic violence victim has no authority to “drop the charges,” they also have no obligation to help Colorado prosecutors prove their case. While prosecutors can move forward even if the alleged victim refuses to testify, if they change their story, recants their allegation, or cannot credibly remember and describe what happened, that can be a significant blow to the prosecution’s ability to prove their case, and may result in their having the domestic violence charges dropped.
A conviction in Colorado for domestic violence can throw your life into utter turmoil. Hiring an experienced and tenacious domestic violence defense attorney is your best first step to protecting your rights as they prepare a strong defense for the charges against you.
If you face Colorado domestic violence charges, please contact James Newby Law today to arrange your free initial consultation.