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The Wrong Person Is Arrested – Understanding Victim Defendant Representation In Colorado Domesitic Violence Cases


It has been my experience over the last 30 years – and especially in light of recently passed mandatory arrest laws in Colorado, that many of the women and men who are accused of domestic violence are actually victims of domestic violence. These individuals were either acting in self-defense, set up entirely, or the victim of ongoing abuse that prompted a violent act in response.

The Colorado domestic violence response system is far from perfect and tends to make arrest and investigatory decisions based upon superficial factors.

These factors might include:

  • who called 911 first,
  • who was more upset,
  • who had the greater apparent physical injury.
  • gender bias 

Many abusers know how to work the domestic violence response system to their advantage.

Representation in these circumstances requires an thorough and somewhat intense multifaceted approach that includes many of the steps taken in any domestic violence defense but also includes gathering information from other sources.

The Role of The Prosecutor When The Wrong Person Is Prosecuted

The first step for a victim defendant should be attempting to educate and persuade the prosecutor as to the true facts of the situation. Many good prosecutors will pay close attention to evidence that the defendant is actually victim and dismiss the case. although at times slowly.

In the civil domestic violence protection order context, the same level of work is involved but on an expedited basis because of the different timelines applicable to these proceedings. In the civil domestic violence protection order context, it is the judge or commissioner who must be convinced that the petitioner is actually the abuser. Fortunately, the law does recognize that there are circumstances where the petitioner is actually the abuser and authorizes the court to realign the parties and make the original petitioner the respondent and the restrained party under a protection order.

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H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
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