In the State of Colorado, domestic violence charges are routinely filed when an argument arises between two people and the police are called. Sometimes the people involved in the argument call the police; sometimes it is a third party (e.g., someone else in the residence, a neighbor, or someone nearby – as in the case where an arguments takes place in public and a bystander calls 911). Regardless of who calls the police or why the police are called, almost with complete certainty, one person will be arrested by the police. Historically, if at least one of the people involved is a male, than the male will be the one arrested. Of course not every domestic argument involves a male, but what is important to remember is that the police will arrest at least one of the parties involved (or reported to be involved).
Once a person is arrested and taken into custody, such person will appear in court within 72 hours. Generally, this person will be held without bond until the person appears in court. After the person appears in court before a judge, the person will have a chance to argue for bond to be set and for bond to be set a reasonable and non-oppressive amount. Also at this first appearance in court, the arrested person will usually have formal charges filed against them and a Mandatory Restraining Order will be issued by the court. Such Mandatory Restraining Orders are governed by CRS § 18-1-1001. Moreover, the arrested and charged person (now called the Defendant) will be forced to acknowledge notice of the restraining order as a condition of being released from custody. See CRS § 18-1-1001(5).
All such restraining orders “shall restrain the person charged from harassing, molesting, intimidating, retaliating against, or tampering with any witness to or victim of the acts charged.” CRS § 18-1-1001(1). Additionally, under CRS § 18-1-1001(3), such restraining orders may also include any of the following terms and conditions:
(a) An order to vacate or stay away from the home of the victim and to stay away from any other location where the victim is likely to be found;
NOTE: Commonly this means you can’t go back to your own home or job location even if the other person doesn’t live or work there, and you don’t have any claim to be on the property.
(b) An order to refrain from contact, or direct or indirect communication with the victim;
NOTE: This means you (or anyone on your behalf) cannot have any contact with the protected person, including in order to obtain witnesses statements or interviews; “no contact” literally means NO CONTACT.
(c) An order prohibiting possession or control of firearms or other weapons;
NOTE: This is a federal felony under 18 USC § 922(g)(8) and (9), and if you have military or police training you are classed as a “trained killer.”
(d) An order prohibiting possession or consumption of alcohol or controlled substances; and
(e) Any other order the court deems appropriate to protect the safety of the alleged victim.
NOTE: For example, as a condition of your release on bail you may be required to be on house arrest with In-Home Monitoring (IHM), to be placed on GPS (to track your movements at all times), and to begin treatment or therapy of some sort (e.g., anger management, domestic violence treatment, and drug and/or alcohol treatment). These terms and conditions will continue until one of three things happen: (1) your case is dismissed (often accomplished with the help of an experience attorney), (2) you enter a plea of guilty to the charges (often done by defendants who don’t have an attorney and are thus coerced into a guilty plea by the prosecution), or (3) your case is concluded following a trial.
Under CRS § 18-1-1001(4), “[a]ny person failing to comply with a protection order issued pursuant to this section commits the crime of violation of a protection order,” and such person may be punished in accordance with CRS § 18-6-803.5.
Mandatory restraining orders work only one way. Only the Defendant is restrained from contacting the other party. However, the other party can still legally contact you. When this happens, the Defendant still CANNOT reply or speak to the other party. Such contact by the Defendant (even when done in response to the protected party contacting the Defendant) is a violation of law. First, it is a violation of the Defendant’s bond conditions will therefore almost always result in the Defendant’s bond being forfeited and the Defendant being sent back to jail. Also, the court could initiate with contempt of court proceedings against the Defendant (thought this occurs with less frequency). Second, it is a new and separate criminal offense for the Defendant to make contact with the protected person, so new charges can (and usually will) be filed by the prosecution against the defendant for violation of a protection order. See CRS § 18-1-1001(4); CRS § 18-6-803.5.
Keep in mind, the District Attorney cannot dismiss a domestic violence case or plea bargain it to anything that does not involve “domestic violence” as the underlying basis for the charge. See CRS § 18-6-801(3); § 16-21-103. Moreover, the protected party (often referred to as the “alleged victim”) cannot force the charges against the Defendant to be dropped or dismissed (but can exercise certain “victim rights” with the help of an experienced attorney, which puts lots of pressure on the prosecution to do what the victim wants). The prosecution (often called “the People”) is an agent of the state government, and as such the prosecution is the only person who can decide whether to charge a person with a crime, what crimes to charge such person, and whether or not such charges will later be dismissed. However, it is important to note that one of the considerations the prosecution makes is whether or not the alleged victim in the case will cooperate with the prosecution and what the alleged victim desires to occur in the case.
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ATTENTION: Time may be working against you, so it is very important in every domestic violence case (or investigation) that you contact legal counsel right away. The attorneys at Masterson Hall, P.C. will take steps not only to defend you by preparing your case for trial (and having you found “not guilty”), but the lawyers will also take the steps necessary to force the government into a favorable disposition – including having your case and charges completely dismissed.