Colorado takes Domestic Violence cases very seriously. We are just one of the many states that practice mandatory arrest laws in terms of domestic violence. Mandatory arrest in this state has been shaped by the political system that surrounds and manipulates the legal system. I am especially experienced as an attorney that deals with domestic violence cases.
As a domestic violence defense lawyer, I can tell you it doesn’t matter if you decide you don’t want to press charges, once the police are involved you can almost always guarantee that someone is going to get arrested. It may even be the person that called the police in the first place. The politics surrounding this issue are based on statistics of domestic violence cases and the manipulation of these statistics during an election year. This influences officers to err on the side of caution when dealing with these types of calls. This leads us to where we are now, mandatory arresting on all domestic violence cases.
Domestic Violence: The Law
Colorado Revised Statute 18-6-803.6 talks about the duties of peace officers and prosecuting agencies on domestic violence cases. The first section of this statute states;
- “When a peace officer determines that there is probable cause to believe that a crime or offense involving domestic violence, has been committed, the officer shall, without undue delay, arrest the person suspected of its commission pursuant to the provisions in subsection (2) of this section, if applicable, and charge the person with the appropriate crime or offense.
- Nothing in this subsection (1) shall be construed to require a peace officer to arrest both parties involved in an alleged act of domestic violence when both claim to have been victims of such domestic violence.
- Additionally, nothing in this subsection (1) shall be construed to require a peace officer to arrest either party involved in an alleged act of domestic violence when a peace officer determines there is no probable cause to believe that a crime or offense of domestic violence has been committed.
In determining whether a crime has been committed by one or more persons, the officer shall consider the following:
- Any prior complaints of domestic violence;
- The relative severity of the injuries inflicted on each person;
- The likelihood of future injury to each person; and
- The possibility that one of the persons acted in self- defense.
Now it is important to note that just because the statute states the officers do not have to make an arrest doesn’t mean that they won’t. Officers are given the discretion to make the call based on their knowledge and expertise with domestic violence situations. The statistics surrounding incidents directly related to domestic violence greatly influences this process. This in turn, influences an officers decision of implementing a mandatory arrest policy.
Statistics Surrounding Domestic Violence
Half of all murders committed in Colorado are committed by a current or former intimate partner and the victims are disproportionately female.
According to the Colorado Domestic Violence report, a total of 16,700 people were victims of domestic violence in 2014 alone.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence website states:
- More than 1 in 3 women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime and approximately 7 million women are raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former intimate partner each year.
- Nationwide, an average of 3 women are killed by a current or former intimate partner every day
- Approximately 15.5 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year
- Men exposed to physical abuse, sexual abuse and/or domestic violence as children are almost 4 times more likely than other men to perpetrate domestic violence as adults
Statistics like these are the reason that mandatory arresting is so common in Colorado. If a police officer takes a chance on someone and then that person turns around and kills their spouse, then not only is that officer’s career on the line but also the District Attorney’s office and the entire law enforcement community is scrutinized by being “soft on crime.” In this light, it is better for officers and the state, to take you into custody. Even if you haven’t done anything up to the point of police showing up, they will take you in to prevent anything from happening once they leave. As the saying goes, better safe than sorry.
When you look at all these relevant factors no wonder police officers take no chances and always arrest someone at a domestic violence call. These statistics are what drives the mandatory arrest policy in Colorado in terms of domestic violence. The police and all other law enforcement officials are not going to put their agency and jobs at risk if it means keeping you out of jail. Even if you are the one who called 911. If police determine you are the aggressor you are at risk for being arrested. Domestic violence is a very serious issue and law enforcement takes it very seriously in the state of Colorado. Mandatory arrest has become a side effect of people trying to preserve their position in power and not about who is a victim and who is the perpetrator.
This policy also affects how your case is going to be processed through the system. Just because the victim states that it was their fault and they want to take back the charges, does not mean the case will be dropped. An accusation of domestic violence is a life changing event. Be sure you understand the severity of the situation and the factors the influence the process of mandatory arrest and protection orders in relation to domestic violence.
Contact an attorney if you are charged with domestic violence. This is not legal advice. Contact your attorney to discuss your unique situation and what your options are. Let us help you through these difficult times.
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By Shannon Lynch