What should I do if I am charged with domestic violence?
1. Observe the terms of the protection order.
A protection order is automatically entered in every domestic violence case. It is important to read the order and make sure that you are in compliance with all conditions. Do not contact the alleged victim in any way. Do not text them, email them, or contact them through any social media platform. Do not like or comment on their social media posts. Do not contact them through a third party. If the order contains a provision prohibiting possession of firearms or ammunition have a close friend or family member come collect your firearms and ammunition immediately. If the order says not to consume alcohol do not consume alcohol. If you come into contact with law enforcement they will be aware of the conditions imposed by the order and they will arrest you if they have probable cause to believe you have violated any provision of the protection order. Any violation of the protection order can result in a new criminal case. Often the case for violating a protection order is significantly easier to prove in court than the underlying offense which gave rise to the protection order. Prosecutors and law enforcement can use protection order violation cases as leverage to get you to plead guilty to the original case.
The protection order will stay in place throughout the pendency of your case and any probationary sentence. The protected party may request to have the protection order removed. If you must come into contact with the protected party due to your work or home arrangements then inform your attorney immediately so that action can be taken to modify the terms of the order. If both you and the protected party attend the same event, you must leave. If the protected party approaches you get away to a safe place and contact the police to report the incident immediately. Tell them that the protected party has approached you and that you are scared of getting into further trouble. Ask that a report of the incident be made.
If you live with the protected party then you may have to vacate the residence while the order is in place. Often, the order will contain additional conditions that you not terminate any utilities or discontinue payment of any bills that you pay on behalf of the protected party. Be sure that you read the order to determine if these conditions are part of the order before discontinuing any support payments made on behalf of the protected party.
2. Observe the terms of your bond.
When you bond out of jail after a domestic violence offense there are almost always conditions of your bond. You should read over the bond paperwork carefully. You may be prohibited from travelling outside of Colorado without permission. The judge may also require sobriety monitoring and supervision through the pre-trial services office of the Sheriff’s Department. It is important to comply with all pre-trial supervision orders. If you fail to call and check in as directed, even if you are only a few minutes late, a warrant will likely be issued for your arrest. If you fail to report for drug and alcohol testing this will also trigger a warrant for your arrest.
3. Preserve and document information that may be helpful to your case.
If you have any injuries have a close friend or family member take photos of your injuries immediately. Do not take the photos yourself. Make sure that the person who takes the photos will still be available to testify in a year or two if your case proceeds to trial. Take more than enough photos of your injuries. Photograph the injuries from different angles and under different lighting conditions. If bruising increases the following day take additional photos. Move quickly to secure any evidence which might assist in the defense of your case. This may include surveillance camera video from the location of the incident, the names and contact information of eyewitnesses, or photos of the crime scene and any objects or instruments used as a weapon. Save any text messages, call logs, or social media posts which may be useful in the defense of your case by capturing a screenshot with your phone or computer. If the alleged victim may be familiar with any passwords used for your accounts then consider changing them, so long as it does not violate the terms of your protection order. Be careful not to violate any terms of the protection order while collecting any evidence that might help you.
Many times in domestic violence cases the alleged victim will retract their allegations after an arrest has been made. Your attorney or an investigator should move quickly to obtain any favorable statements from the witness at this time, in case the alleged victim changes their story again in the future.
Contact the Sumrall Law Office for assistance with your domestic violence case.
It is important to contact an attorney right away if you have been charged with domestic violence. Do not accept a plea offer without speaking to an attorney first. Marshall R. Sumrall is experienced in domestic violence cases and represents clients for a flat fee. Call today for a free consultation or inquire online and receive a response within 24 hours.