When we hear the words domestic violence, we all think of the horrible acts of violence committed against both men and women by their significant others. The purpose of this article is not to justify such horrible acts, but rather to talk about things which people do, which are not acts of violence, yet still get lumped in with the phrase “domestic violence”.
As a domestic violence attorney in Colorado Springs and a former deputy district attorney, I have seen all parts of the spectrum. A recent case of mine brings to mind the problems with the current system and laws.
My client, we will call him Brian, had been at his Colorado Springs home all day with his wife, the alleged victim, on a Saturday. He’d been drinking and mowing the lawn. His wife had also been drinking.
Later in the evening, they got into an argument over a minor matter. At one point, the alleged victim decided she wanted to leave. She packed the kids into the car and prepared to leave.
Brian realized that his wife was in no condition to drive after having consumed alcohol, especially with their precious children in the vehicle. He reached into the vehicle and took the keys out of the ignition and turned off the car. He calmly told her that she was not going to drive away in her current condition.
At no point during the interaction, did Brian lay his hands on his wife or threaten her. He did not hit her, beat her, or do anything that false under the definition of domestic violence. Instead, he tried to reason with her. He tried to convince her that driving in her condition was not appropriate, it was even dangerous.
After his appeals failed to move her, he did what any reasonable spouse and parent would do. He took the keys. His wife called the Colorado Springs police and told them he was keeping her in the garage and wouldn’t let her leave.
The police arrived on the scene and spoke to the alleged victim. They charged Brian with false imprisonment as an act of domestic violence. The tragedy was that because of the charge he was lumped in with true acts of domestic violence. In the eyes of the Colorado Springs law enforcement, the accusations were the same as if he had punched his wife in the face or beat her with a belt.
Once the tag of domestic violence is attached to a case, the consequences are severe and long-lasting.
Brian immediately sought out a Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney who could help his side of the story come out. After meeting with the Colorado Springs District Attorney and discussing the evidence, the case was ultimately dismissed and sealed, but not without the stress that comes from being in the Court system and worrying that things will not turn out your way.
I saw firsthand how improper investigation and assumptions by law enforcement can lead to an unfair charge. Ultimately the system worked, but not without some prodding.