When we think of domestic violence, we often think of physical violence between intimate partners. Of course, such physical violence perpetrated upon a partner certainly qualifies as domestic violence. But, recognizing domestic violence means we must understand the other forms of violence or threatened violence against intimate partners that are included, too. It’s not just about physical violence.
Here at Nicol Gersch Petterson, we’ve dealt with hundreds of cases where we’ve represented either the accused, or the victim (and sometimes they’re one and the same). What we’ve learned is that these kinds of cases are hard, never clear-cut, and every relationship is unique. This is why we offer a case-specific approach to domestic violence cases. Not every case mandates anger management! Not every argument got physical! Not every client needs drug or alcohol monitoring! We are not one-size-fits-all legal representation. Read on to learn more about domestic violence cases and how we might be able to help you deal with your unique situation.
Recognizing Domestic Violence – More Than Just Punches
The legal definition of domestic violence is an act (or threatened act) of violence against someone you are in or have been in an intimate relationship with. It also includes other types of crimes besides just violent crimes if those crimes are committed with the intent to retaliate, control, harass, etc. the intimate partner. “Intimate partners” is defined as current or past couples & spouses, or even parents of the same child – regardless if they have ever been in a relationship. The term applies to a wide range of situations and includes more than physical violence. It can even include acts against property or animals when used to coerce, punish, or use as revenge against a partner. Overall, ANY type of case can be domestic violence if used for retaliation, control, etc. – even breaking your own marital property.
Sexual Abuse and Domestic Violence
Many types of sexual abuse can be considered domestic violence if the parties involved were in an intimate relationship. This includes rape, sexual assault, harassment, and other demeaning behaviors – even posting revenge porn. Additionally, this could extend to coercion into having an abortion or not using contraception. Lastly, intentionally spreading sexually transmitted diseases or attempting to do so can be charged as a criminal offense. Sexual abuse is also grounds for civil restraining orders. Unlike most cases involving strangers, a sexual abuse case between partners can be harder to prove than most because consent becomes an issue. Although a previous or past consensual sexual relationship does not automatically prove consent for the act in question, a consent defense usually has some merit. “Consent” in Colorado is defined as, “cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will and with knowledge of the nature of the act. A current or previous relationship shall not be sufficient to constitute consent… Submission under the influence of fear shall not constitute consent…” Sexual abuse in the context of domestic violence charges is an extremely complex legal case demanding competent legal help. Reach out today if you or a loved one is facing charges for any of these types of crimes.
Financial abuse is the least obvious form of domestic violence, but like other forms relies on the element of control. This can include preventing a partner from obtaining a job or education, or withholding money for food or other necessities. When the victim is dependent on his or her partner for money, it can create a situation in which the victim is completely at the mercy of their partner, and might be unable to leave the relationship. Many domestic violence experts in Colorado will testify that financial control over someone else is a red flag indicating that domestic violence may exist within the relationship. What’s counterintuitive though is that the absence of financial control doesn’t work in an accused’s favor unless there are no other red flags. Power and control dynamics, as well as the cycle of violence, are common themes for these experts’ testimony. Recognizing domestic violence as including elements of financial abuse may help you prevent a situation that constitutes domestic violence. If you’ve been charged with domestic violence and have unequal finances with your partner, it’s in your interest to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney today.
Psychological or Emotional Abuse
Psychological or emotional abuse are the hardest kinds of acts on which to base a domestic violence case. Often times, without the combination of other types of abuse only severe cases can bring about a domestic violence charge. They capture a wide range of behaviors such as destruction of victim’s self-worth, preventing the victim from talking to others, or emotional blackmail. Most people don’t immediately recognize psychological or emotional abuse as domestic violence since the behaviors seem to be common in unhealthy relationships. Many people have even experienced (or committed) some of these behaviors themselves.
So, what if you’re mad at your partner and destroy one of his or her belongings? This could legally be considered domestic violence since it is an act of violence against property in order to punish or seek revenge against a partner. How about if you’re in a heated argument with your partner and threaten violence, even if you would never actually do it? This could legally be considered domestic violence, as even the threat alone is enough for a case. Threats of any sort can land you in hot water, and we all have said things in the heat of the moment that we regret later. Threats paired with subsequent apologies followed by more threats and more apologies are fodder for domestic violence charges. Beware and be warned… a good attorney can help you get out from under this kind of case, too.
The Bottom Line for Domestic Violence Cases
While some situations may be easier to prosecute as domestic violence, a wide array of behaviors can be considered domestic violence. Recognizing domestic violence requires that you understand the other behaviors that can be considered domestic violence under the law in Colorado. If you are a victim, remember help is always available. Consider reaching out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit their website for more information. If you are accused of domestic violence, the best way to avoid domestic violence charges is to know what the law includes and recognize the risks.
Need More Help?
If you are in need of criminal defense or family law help, consider reaching out to Nicol Gersch Petterson for a free 30-minute consultation. Find more information at https://CoLawTeam.com or call 970.670.0378.
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