If 911 is called, someone is going to jail . . . no exceptions.
Colorado has some of the most aggressive domestic violence laws in America. Our legislature has removed the discretion and common sense from law enforcement. Their efforts to protect victims or potential victims at all costs has seemingly given the Courts, prosecutors, prosecutors’ assistants (self-entitled victim advocates that do not advocate for the victim) all the power over you and your family.
Colorado Revised Statute §18-6-803.6. Duties of peace officers and prosecuting agencies – preservation of evidence
(1) When a peace officer determines that there is probable cause to believe that a crime or offense involving domestic violence, as defined in section 18-6-800.3 (1), has been committed, the officer shall, without undue delay, arrest the person suspected of its commission
Sadly a typical phone call goes like this:
On Friday night, a husband and wife (we will call them Jack and Jill) went out to dinner. The credit card bill came in the mail that day and there were some ‘unexpected’ charges Jill had put on their credit card. A discussion ensued that does not end when the dinner arrives. They go home and neither is happy with each other. They are inside the house and Jack calls Jill a name, or Jill calls Jack a name. Jill walks by Jack she intentionally pushes Jack out of the way. A vase on the table is knocked over and breaks. Jack calls his wife an inappropriate name back. Jill responds by saying to Jack that he should “just leave.” Jack rolls his eyes and ignores Jill because he does not want this to escalate and knows that Jill had a glass of wine or two with dinner and is just a little emotional.
Jill goes upstairs where she calls her sister. Jill’s sister tells Jill that Jack should not call you those names in your own house. They cry on the phone. Jill’s sister suggests that Jill should call the police, or she will. It will get his attention. It will teach him a lesson. Jill hangs up and calls the police to come and talk to Jack. Jill tells the 911 trained dispatcher what happened but part-way though the phone call, she realizes that the 911 dispatcher is making a big deal out of nothing. Jill tells the 911 dispatcher everything is OK and hangs up. The 911 dispatcher calls back and Jill tells her that everything is OK. Jill thanks her for her time and apologizes before she hangs up.
Jack comes upstairs and Jill and Jack talk things out. The issue is resolved. Unfortunatly, 3 minutes later the doorbell rings. Jack goes downstairs in his underwear and t-shirt and answers the door. It is 3 police officers. They tell Jack that he needs to come outside and talk with one of them about what happened tonight. The lights on all three police cars are flashing and some of the neighbors are out on the street pointing at Jack and Jill;s house. Jack does not know what is going on and asks what this is about. The armed police officer then raises his voice and say, “Come outside now.” Jack asks if he can go get on a pair of pants. The police then tell Jack that if he does not come outside right now and talk to them, they will have to arrest him (a statement they later deny making as they claim he voluntarily came outside in his underwear). Jill is also at the door and Jack goes outside. Jack is put in the back of a police car where he is locked inside the car. The police will later claim that Jack asked to be put in a car to avoid the neighbors. Two police officers enter the house. They later claim Jill invited them into the house. They take Jill to the kitchen and order Jill to sit down at the kitchen table. One of the officers disappears. Jill does not realize that he is walking throughout the house going into their bedroom, basement and anywhere else he wants. He is opening drawers and looking in closets. They find alcohol, they find a gun (they may even find legal marijuana). Somehow, unbeknownst to Jack and Jill, the situation has escalated. The officer in the kitchen with Jill tells her that they are concerned for her safety because she called 911. They just want to make sure Jill is OK. They ask Jill if there are any weapons in the house, if Jack has ever called her names in the past, how often Jack drinks and if he has ever hit or shoved her before. The other police officer is now back standing behind Jill and she is nervous. Jill tells that truth. They are like most couples – they occasionally call names but never any physical violence. She says that Jack sometimes has a few drinks after work to unwind but who doesn’t. Jack has a gun his father gave him in the basement, and she thinks there is a lock on it. Jill says that says that she and Jack were involved in a little pushing earlier tonight but it is no big deal. They ask if anything was broken and Jill mentions the vase. The officer looks in the garbage and sees the broken vase. Jill is not worried about her safety and she never has been during the entire marriage. Jill never meant for any of this to happen. Everything is going to be just fine.
Outside the officer is talking to Jack. The overhead police lights are still flashing and a few neighbors have been calling and texting Jack and Jill. Jack is nervous and he tells the truth. Jack them him about the argument over the credit card bill. Jack tells them they called each other names. Jack mentions that Jill has had some wine and that she was just blowing off some steam. Jack does not want to get Jill in trouble so just does not mention about Jill pushing him. Everything is going to be just fine.
The police tell Jack to turn around. Handcuffs are suddenly in the officer’s hand as he is approaching Jack. Jack asks to go inside go get his pants on. Jack is cold and just wants to talk to Jill. Jack has never been in trouble before and wants to know if they can work this out. Jack is taken to the ground by the police in front of his neighbors and is led into the police car. The flashing lights are on and his neighbors are all looking. Jack is embarrassed and his life is about to drastically change.
The police explain to Jill that they have a mandatory duty to arrest Jack. It is the law and they ‘wish’ they did not have to but they have ‘no discretion.’ Jack is arrested for criminal mischief (vase), third degree assault (pushing), harassment (pushing), false information to law enforcement (not telling about the pushing), disobeying a lawful order (not turning around fast enough), resisting arrest (not turning around fast enough), and domestic violence. Jack is going to jail and he CANNOT get out until MONDAY AFTERNOON. Jill explains that Jack cannot miss work, he might lose his job and they would lose their health insurance. They could lose the house. Jill did not want this to happen. The police tell her it is out of her hands and she cannot drop the charges. Jill did not want any charges to begin with. It is too late and there is nothing she can do.
This is when we get the call.
When Jack goes to Court on Monday morning, the Judge will likely try to impose a bond with the following conditions:
- No contact with Jill (despite Jill wanting contact);
- No returning to the residence where Jill is likely to be found (that means their home);
- No alcohol or drugs without a prescription requiring random breath and urine test several times a week;
- No firearms;
- They may put Jack on a GPS ankle bracelet;
- They will assign Jack a probation officer (called pre-trial supervision);
- They will make Jack pay a bond to get out of jail and they will NOT let Jill pay the bond.
TO APPEAR AT COURT:
The police give Jill a piece of paper that says SUBPOENA TO APPEAR AT COURT. It is filled in by the officers telling her about a mandatory Court appearance on Monday. Jill never reads the SMALL PRINT stating that this is NOT a legal document and is actually not a legal SUBPOENA, it is a piece of paper and the State is simply trying to deceive her to make the case easier to convict Jack.
They will provide her with the name and number of a Victim’s Advocate. Jill thinks this is great because she wants this whole thing to go away. Jill immediately calls the Victim’s Advocate. The Victim Advocate starts telling Jill that she, the Victim’s Advocate, is her to help Jill. Jill is still reeling from all that is going on and this is just what she needs to hear. The Victim’s Advocate says she has a couple questions for Jill to get started. Jill just wants to know how to get the retraining order lifted and the case dismissed so her husband can come home. The Victim’s Advocate says they have to ask a few questions in order to help Jill. Jill is immediately peppered with a series of questions. The question are very personal and are not asking about what happened on this night. They want to know:
- does Jack drink
- how often does Jack drink
- how much does Jack drink
- has Jack ever taken drugs
- how often does Jack take drugs
- does Jack take prescription medicine
- did he take prescription medicine on this night
- what is he like when he drinks
- why does he drink so much
- how does he change when he drink
- does Jack have a history of violence (when Jill says no and asks to address her concerns about getting the case dismissed and lifting the no contact order, she is told that I, the Victim’s Advocate, cannot help you unless you tell me the truth
- is he violent
- is he only violent when he drinks (he was this night so if you don’t give me the answer I want, I will not be able to assist you)
- does he swear
- does he swear at you
- why do you continue to put up with this why have you not left him
Jill is clearly getting frustrated. She tells her Victim’s Advocate that she wants her questions answered. Jill says she now only want to talk about how you as my advocate can help us to get the case dismissed and how you as my advocate can get the case dismissed. This is when Jill learns the truth. They are not the Victim’s Advocate. The Victim Advocate is anything but a hired advocate for the victim. The Victim’s Advocate is a hired assistant working in the District Attorney’s Office for the District Attorney’s Office. Her sole job is to assist the District Attorney in the prosecution of Jack. They will only advocate for Jill if Jill does everything that the District Attorney wants Jill to do. When Jill points out that the Victim’s Advocate is not advocating for what Jill wants, the Victim’s Advocate says they have to go and hangs up on Jill. Jill is now alone. Jill calls her sister and they wonder out loud, what have we done? Jack will lose his job. This will impact the kids, they could lose the house, their house insurance and their future. Her sister says it will be OK, but Jill knows it will never be the same. This is when a skilled criminal defense attorney can make a huge difference in the life of both Jack and Jill. It is what I do!