The complexity of Colorado laws makes it impossible for the victim to drop domestic violence charges. Even a judge can’t stop the case from being prosecuted. In the Centennial State, only a state prosecutor has the right to decide whether to dismiss a domestic violence case.
If the victim tries to recant the domestic violence statement, the prosecutor may take note but still proceed with the case. While strict state laws make it hard to dismiss the case, it doesn’t mean your defenses are limited. By working with an experienced domestic violence lawyer, it’s possible to achieve the most favorable outcome.
What is Domestic Violence in Colorado?
According to Title 18. Criminal Code § 18-6-800.3, domestic violence is an act of violence against a person with whom the suspected aggressor has or had an intimate relationship. An intimate relationship is a relationship between:
- Current and former spouses.
- Current and former unmarried couples.
- Parents of the same child (regardless of their formal relationship or lack thereof)
You don’t need to live or have sexual relations with a person for them to report domestic violence. Friends, roommates, and coworkers aren’t part of an intimate relationship unless they fall under one of the above categories.
Domestic violence doesn’t have to involve physical or sexual abuse. It can be financial abuse (controlling the person’s actions with money), technological abuse (e.g., sending abusive messages or making threatening phone calls), or emotional abuse (verbal harassment, gaslighting).
Colorado Domestic Violence Charges Explained
Domestic violence in Denver isn’t a straightforward charge. Instead of being an independent crime, it’s a sentencing aggravator. It increases the penalty for other offenses, such as:
- Restraining order violation
- Criminal mischief
- Elder abuse
- Sexual assault
Penalties for a domestic violence assault depend on the underlying charge. In addition to the penalty for the underlying charge, you may have to attend a treatment program.
If you are charged with domestic violence for the fourth time, you could be declared a “habitual domestic violence offender.” This is a Class V felony that comes with a prison sentence.
Besides penalties, a domestic violence conviction could lead to the loss of employment and changes in parenting time. You will also be prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm.
Once the victim calls the police and reports domestic violence, the process is out of their hands. When officers arrive at the house and find probable cause to believe that domestic violence took place, they are required to arrest the suspect.
The key purpose of this arrest is to prevent the potential aggressor from hurting the victim again. This arrest stays on your record even if domestic charges are eventually dropped.
Can Domestic Violence Charges Be Dropped By A Prosecutor?
In the majority of criminal cases, the prosecutor can drop charges if:
- They don’t believe you are guilty.
- They think it will be hard to get a conviction.
When it comes to domestic violence, the prosecutor is obligated to proceed with the case unless they think it’s impossible to win. A few reasons why this can happen are:
- Lack of evidence
- Serious inconsistencies in the victim’s statement
- Absence of any injuries
- Evidence that supports the alleged aggressor (e.g., injuries that help argue self-defense)
While recanting a victim’s statement doesn’t cause the prosecutor to drop domestic violence charges, it can contribute to a favorable decision.
Each domestic violence case is different, and so is every prosecutor. A local criminal defense attorney can figure out which strategy to use to initiate charge dismissal.
How to Drop Domestic Violence Charges
Defending yourself against a domestic violence charge is impossible without legal expertise and experience. Since penalties can be severe, professional legal assistance comes highly recommended.
With an experienced criminal attorney on your side, you can choose one of the most effective lines of defense. The most common options include:
Dismissing the Underlying Charge
The most effective way to win a domestic abuse case is to dismiss the underlying charge. For example, if you are charged with sexual assault, you can:
- Present evidence of an alibi.
- Argue the victim’s consent.
- Argue false accusations.
- Claim mental incapacity at the time of the crime.
If the prosecutor dismisses the underlying charge, the domestic violence enhancement automatically expires.
Disproving Intimate Relationship
Since an intimate relationship is a mandatory part of the domestic violence charge, you can try to prove that you’ve never been in this type of relationship with the victim.
To show the absence of an intimate relationship, you would need to present evidence (videos, correspondence) and eyewitness testimony.
Even if the prosecutor drops the domestic violence enhancement, the underlying charge would still remain.
Taking Action to Drop Domestic Violence Charges
If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, it’s important to take quick action. No matter how strong the case may seem, there is always a possibility of dismissal.
To maximize your chances of dropping these charges, consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney right after your arrest.