Colorado's Domestic Violence epidemic is not so much a reflection of our state's level of violence involving intimate partners, as it is the medling of our law makers and the Colorado Supreme Court. As a result, District Attorneys in Denver, Jefferson and Arapahoe County appear to be filing these cases in record numbers.
One Baltimore football player has singlehandedly increased Domestic Violence (C.R.S. 18-6-800.3) reports throughout the United States by 84%!. I find that remarkable. According to a Huffington Post article, the video, released by TMZ, of a popular running back hitting his girlfriend has created so much public outrage that Domestic Violence reports have gone from 500 to 600 calls per day to over 1,000 phone calls a day. This results in a tremendous expenditure of government resources across the U.S. and in Denver, Jefferson and Douglas County.
As crazy as it sounds, Domestic Violence charges in Douglas County and across Colorado, can be attached to any underlying crime, including Theft. Domestic Violence (DV) is not a criminal offense in and of itself. It is called a "sentence enhancer," and is located in Colorado law at C.R.S. 18-6-800.3. Here, the Colorado legislature has broadly written the law in order to enhance just about any crime involving two people who have been in an intimate relationship.
Domestic Violence (C.R.S. 18-6-800.3), is not one specific crime in Denver, Arapahoe, or Douglas County. It is a special designation assigned to any crime where there is an act of violence, or a threat, against a person who is or was in a special relationship with the perpetrator. Domestic Violence includes any crime committed against a person or property, when used to control, punish, intimidate, or get revenge against someone in a current or past intimate relationship. Consider the following example.
Am I the only one who sees the inconsistency with this special interest driven label? Basically said, our legislature is scared of being labeled as tolerant of violence by special interest groups, so they agreed to the extreme terms contained within our Colorado Domestic Violence law.
Domestic Violence (DV) is broadly defined across the state of Colorado and doesn't even actually require any act of "violence". While DV generally means "an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor has been in an intimate relationship," it also applies to "any other crime against a person, property, or animal against a person with whom the actor has been involved in an intimate relationship." C.R.S. 18-6-800.3. In Boulder, Broomfield and Adams County, the practical affect is that if you are alleged to have committed a crime against a spouse, former spouse, or couple, then that crime will qualify as domestic violence.
Sometimes, I have a hard time imagining the rationale behind this crazy law for Domestic Violence in Denver, Arapahoe and Douglas County. Any crime can be Domestic Violence (DV). In fact, this label can be added to child abuse, animal cruelty and criminal mischief. While none of these crimes involve violence by pushing or shoving, hitting or slapping, they can all be DV.
We frequently see cases involving Domestic Violence in our practice and we've reminded you that any charge can have the DV label. Now, we want to alert you to a trend occuring in many Colorado Courts like those in Adams County and Broomfield County, which rushes criminal cases involving Domestic Violence allegations. The idea, called "Fast Track", is to bring people before a judge and DA quickly, before they can get a lawyer hired. This clever attempt to circumvent the U.S. Constitution's 6th Amendment right to counsel is dangerous to persons charged with crimes.
A Lakewood man was recently arrested on charges of Domestic Violence "DV" (C.R.S. 18-6-801) after he became angry that his girlfriend and her children were having a "Twilight" movie marathon. The Lakewood police allege he left after becoming irritated by the movies and returned home intoxicated later when he argued with his girlfriend, grabbed her, threw her against a wall, and threatened to stab her with a knife. The man was arrested and taken to the Jefferson County jail where he will stay for the duration of the case unless he can post bail bond. He will be under a mandatory Protection Order issued in every DV case.
Coloradoans are faced with a ridiculously broad definition of Domestic Violence (DV) in Colorado under C.R.S. 18-6-800.3. That definition just became broader still. This definition is used in Denver, Arapahoe and Jefferson County, and every County in Colorado. It is so broad that it includes just any act of violence, harassment, intimidation; and any other act involving coercion, control, punishment, intimidation or revenge against a person who has been in an "intimate relationship" with the accused person. It is important to remember that domestic violence is not its own crime, but is added and applied to any crime when the elements are met. Domestic Violence is called a "sentence enhancer."