Category Archives: False Allegations in Domestic Violence Cases

What Women Want – Why Colorado Domestic Cases Should Be Dismissed In Favor Of Evaluation And Fair Treatment Modalities

Why Colorado Domestic Cases Should Be Dismissed

By H. Michael Steinberg – Colorado Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer – Attorney

Why Colorado Domestic Cases Should Be Dismissed
Why Colorado Domestic Cases Should Be Dismissed

Why Colorado Domestic Cases Should Be Dismissed  – Experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyers who practice in the courts of Colorado are only too well aware of the problems that have arisen out of the “one size fits all” approach of Colorado Domestic Violence Laws.

When a woman (or a man – in the minority of cases) has been the alleged victim of an assault or some form of harassment, they will call the police for help. What they receive, because of a lack of education, is not help – but the destruction of their family or their relationships.

Mandatory Arrest Laws Make No Sense

Restoring the discretion of the police to separate serious acts of domestic violence from the spat that often accompanies difficult marriages or relationships, is what the police used to do when I first started as a young Colorado county prosecutor in the early1980s, Colorado domestic violence cases were treated no differently than all other misdemeanor and felony prosecutions.

What a married couple or anyone in a long term relationship well knows – the police are most often called to “settle” threats to: abscond with the children – resolve accusations of infidelity, mediate issues related to financial pressures and the resulting frustration.

But when the police or other authorities are called to break up the typical “family fight” in Colorado  – “someone is going to jail” and the alleged assailant is mindlessly arrested on an what is typically an assault or harassment charge.

No Room For “Making Up”

Every case today requires an arrest and a “no bond” hold until a judge can enter a restraining order in open court – even if the victim wants to drop the charges. For the last twenty plus years couples in Colorado are given no opportunity to just cool off and  “make up” without the impact of an immediate and mandatory arrest. Later, the alleged victims are forcefully “counseled” by both the police or the DA “victim” advocate – to obtain permanent civil restraining orders that prevent all future contact. This makes no sense.

Why Colorado Domestic Cases Should Be Dismissed – Mandatory Arrest And Prosecution – Destroys Relationships – Mediation Is Key

One of the chief rationales for mandatory arrests and no contact restraining orders  – is that these procedures “take the burden off” victims. The idea is”pro-prosecution” approaches  “remove responsibility” from the alleged victims for the decision to move forward. The truth is – by taking ALL control away from women in the criminal justice system, women then suffer the social or economic consequences of the impact of jail on their significant other and the ultimate destruction of the fabric of the entire social lives with little to show for it.

A judge in one of New York’s largest counties put it best:What these women want most is for their men to get help with their problems.”

That help, in my opinion after 30 years in Colorado courts on BOTH sides of the issue as a prosecutor and as a defense lawyer  –  is mediation and counseling, not prosecution.

What Ultimately Happens To The “Victims” – ‘Coerced Prosecution’

Forcing a woman victim of a relatively minor domestic violence “argument” into a “coerced prosecution” makes her a hostile witness. It also doubles the sheer number of cases of domestic violence that cannot be resolved without a trial. It is a meat hook approach to a delicate set of issues.

The Danger Of “Unintended Consequences”

Often what started as a small disagreement in a strained relationship – with some mutual pushing and shoving – following the impact of the Colorado domestic violence machine – leads to enhanced violence when the process has finally ended. When mostly men – humiliated and harassed by an unthinking and unfeeling system are finally released from jail – a major study of domestic violence finds them much angrier and less in control of their emotions than before the arrest…leading of course to either the destruction of their family or relationship – or further disharmony and violence.

Many studies have shown that the loss of employment – often the result of the mandatory jail sentence in these “fast tracked” cases, leads to significantly MORE violence later in time and calls into question the “wisdom” among criminologists, that arresting the alleged abusers is really the best way to protect women from future disputes with their significant others.

The evidence forces us to confront the fact that mandatory arrests in domestic violence cases may cause more violence against women in the long run,” said Lawrence W. Sherman, a criminologist at the University of Maryland

“In communities with high unemployment, the net effect of an arrest policy is more violence,”

Why Colorado Domestic Cases Should Be Dismissed – H. Michael’s Take

Taking away police discretion and flexibility – while politically attractive in Colorado – is a mistake. The police are on the scene and the have the best vantage point to”make the call” give them back their right to decide when to “cool off” the parties and when an arrest and prosecution is really necessary.. trust their judgement as we do in all other spheres of criminal investigation and prosecution. Why Colorado Domestic Cases Should Be Dismissed – because other avenues of mediation and treatment “heal” not destroy families and relationships.

When Police Officers Lie About Domestic Violence – False Allegations in Colorado Springs

By Denver Colorado Domestic Criminal Defense Lawyer – Attorney – H. Michael Steinberg

When alleged domestic violence victims lie to obtain revenge on a former boyfriend that is a tragedy of enormous proportions. When that person – the alleged domestic violence victim – is a police officer using her office to persuade authorities that her boyfriend attacked her – that is a felony deserving of prison.

Domestic Violence - False Allegations

Domestic Violence – False Allegations

As a result of the lies of Colorado Springs police officer Sydney Huffman’s against her former boyfriend Jarrott Martinez – Martinez would sustain more than six months in jail, two jury trials ending in two acquittals and the loss of his job as a Manitou Springs police officer.

The Facts – False Allegations in Colorado Springs

In June of 2010 – Huffman told the police that Martinez – while driving – caught up to her in her vehicle, drove her off the road and then attacked and choked her. In the absence of excellent criminal defense work – which proactive investigation proved that that was a lie – this case may have ended very differently for Martinez.

Surveillance video located as a result of further investigation – proved that Martinez was at a local mall at the time of the alleged assault.

As a result of a plea agreement – Judge Larry Schwartz sentenced Huffman to 90 days of house arrest, 200 hours of community service and four-years of supervised probation. He also ordered  a mental health evaluation

Huffman was originally charged with six counts of attempting to influence a public official –18-8-306 – as a result of lying to the police in multiple attempts to obtain arrestwarrants against Martinez. The plea deal was for a guilty plea to only one count.

Under Colorado Law the crime of a attempting to influence a public official 18-8-306 is a class 4 felony punishable by two to six years in prison.

A Civil Settlement For Damages

As a result of almost two years of litigation – the City of Colorado Springs agreed to pay $480,000 to Martinez for the city’s role in the prosecution of this case.

Two Different Trials – Not Guilty Verdicts

Even after Mr. Martinez was acquitted of domestic violence charges by Huffman’s – the police sought yet another arrest warrant based on new allegations that he sexually assaulted her. These new charges were later dropped by prosecutors and a third trial was averted.

An Unbelievable Last Attempt To Withdraw From The Plea Agreement

Just before she was sentenced – Huffman tried to withdraw from her plea agreement claiming she pled guilty because she learned she was pregnant and could not go to trial. Another lie – the prosecutor had agreed to delay the trial until after Huffman had given birth.

As you might expect – Huffman, it was reported, showed no emotion in court on the day she pled guilty.

Domestic Violence – False Allegations – H. Michael’s Take

This case examines the disastrous consequences of false allegations in a Colorado domestic violence case and the result of a system that always sides with the alleged victim in the case and does not carefully scrutinize her credibility as would be the case in almost every other Colorado criminal charge.

New Push In Colorado Domestic Violence Cases To Obtain Permanent Restraining Orders – Take These Orders Very Seriously

By Colorado Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Lawyer – Attorney – H. Michael Steinberg

The impact of a domestic violence restraining order cannot be understated – this article attempts to educate you – the Colorado citizen – on the issues pressing on the target of such an order

False allegations of domestic violence are common in divorce, legal separation and child custody cases. The strategy of seeking a permanent restraining order is so commonplace today – it is almost expected as standard warfare.

New Push In Colorado Domestic Violence Cases To Obtain Permanent Restraining <a style=alcoholism Orders – Take These Orders Very Seriously” width=”150″ height=”150″ />The Consequences of A Colorado Based Allegation Of  Domestic Violence Are Widespread

False allegations of domestic have BOTH civil and criminal consequences.

The violation of so called  “Protective Orders” in criminal cases often involve incarceration or heavy fines, “no contact” orders entered which may force the alleged perpetrator to vacate the family residence and to have “no contact” with their children.

In Divorce – Dissolution – Child Custody Cases – the “civil” context consequences can be:

  1. A “Presumption” for Custody – If an act of domestic abuse has occurred, the perpetrator may  not win physical placement or physical custody.
  2. There May NOT Be A Mediation of Disputes –  In the context of such allegations – mediation is often suspended and family law disputes are taken out of the civil system.
  3. No Contact Orders – If an act of domestic abuse has been found have occurred, a Judge will enter a civil restraining order prohibiting the target of the order from contacting the alleged victim directly or indirectly, whether through letters, e-mail, phone calls or messages through third parties. In Colorado – a violation of those restraining provisions, irrespective of who initiated the contact is a criminal violation known as a Violation Of A Protective Order (VPO) which can result in jail.
  4. Eviction From The Family Home – The no contact provisions of a domestic abuse restraining order, will evict the target of the order from the family residence. A “civil assist” may be allowed for the target of the order to have the supervised removal of some personal belongings.
  5. Parenting Time Restrictions – A Colorado domestic abuse restraining order will restrict the target’s contact with his own children. This results in limited or the completed cessation of parenting time or it may compel humiliating “supervised” parenting time.
  6. Anger Management Classes May Be Ordered – A Divorce Court may require the target of a permanent restraining order to take anger management classes or other kinds of therapies as a condition of “normalizing contact” with his or her own children.
  7. A Restriction of Civil Liberties Such As Gun – Second Amendment Rights  – The entry of a domestic violence based permanent restraining order is precluded from owning or possessing a firearm for any purpose.

As you can ee – if false allegations of Colorado domestic violence are made, the stakes are very high but getting a permanent restraining order – has never been easier.

Closely Examining And Understanding The Colorado Permanent Restraining Order Process

Although the stakes are high – the actual burden on proving the case in court  – that is – the low burden of proof necessary for obtaining a civil restraining order involving allegations of domestic abuse and the fast track methods used to obtain the order itself -are a scandal in Colorado.

The Low Burden Of Proof For Winning A Permanent Restraining Order

The person seeking a Colorado Permanent Restraining Order need only prove their claim by  a “preponderance of the evidence.” A “preponderance” means that the petitioner must ONLY PROVE that it is “more likely than not” that the type of abuse alleged occurred.

This is the lowest legal standard of proof in the court system.

Judges will often will issue a permanent restraining order very weak and questionable evidence. They will err on the side of caution because of the fear of unwanted attention to their decision should actual violence follow a decision NOT to issue the order.

No Time To Prepare For The Final – Permanent – Restraining Order Hearing

After the temporary restraining order is issued and served – the permanent restraining order hearing is set within 14 days. There is little or no time to prepare. This is true especially for someone who has never been in court. Crowded court dockets require inexperienced respondents to these hearings little time to prepare a solid and just response to false allegations of abuse.

Unfair Limits On The Court Time Allowed To Conduct The Permanent Restraining Order Hearing

Even when the hearing is held, the judge – often with a dozen hearings to conduct – will limit the introduction of testimony and the evidence to help fit all of the pending cases into the Judge’s  busy court schedule. The legal ramifications of the entry of this permanent order may be a lifetime of complications – but the time afforded the defense of false allegations is often less than an hour or two to present the case and since the defendant presents his case after the petitioner presents her case – the time nay be limited even more so.

The Ex Parte Process Imposing A Temporary Order On Little To No Evidence

In Colorado – the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order – is ex-parte.. that means only the person seeking the temporary restraining order is present in court.

The ex parte restraining order is usually entered with the assistance of a so called “battered woman’s shelter advocate.” Although ex parte relief is supposed to be emergency relief  – the allegations made in court are often gross exaggerations or even outright lies. They are singularly one sided without and without testing or rebuttal by the person who is the accused.

As a result of this one sided submission, most judges issue a temporary restraining order that wreaks havoc on the target’s life. It removes him from the family home, ends contact with his children, and compels the setting of a permanent order or final order hearing in two weeks time.

Your Options At The Final – Permanent Restraining Orders Hearing – What The Judge Will Ask You

At the “return hearing,” the judge will call the case – advise you of the issues to be decided and give you the following options:

(1) Agree to the Restraining Order but with no factual findings that abuse has occurred or

(2) Proceed to final – contested evidentiary hearing to defend against the allegations in the temporary order.

Remember:

(1) In Colorado – unlike many other states – a permanent restraining order is just that – PERMANENT – unless it is later modified by a subsequent court order – and that is VERY difficult.

(2) ANY violation of the restraining order results in a new criminal charges for domestic violence no matter how insignificant the violation. That means mandatory arrest, no bond holds, and can be used in divorce court in later civil proceedings. 

If You Can Afford One – Get A Lawyer Experienced In Defending These Cases

Yes it is expensive but so is the impact on your life if you lose. If you cannot afford a good lawyer then contest the allegations in court and present an aggressive defense. Anyone can be the victim of false allegations of domestic violence in Colorado.

The weak laws defining what abuse is – it is what the judge says it is – and the low burden of proof at the hearings and standards of proof set out in Colorado law – place the target of the restraining order at a considerable disadvantage.  You must be “aggressively proactive” in fighting the charges – do NOT give up and concede defeat.

Denver Colorado Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Lawyer

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg – Email The Author  hmichaelsteinberg@hmichaelsteinberg.com or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-227-7777.

Helping Clients To Make Informed Decisions In the Defense of Colorado Criminal Cases.

Woman’s False Domestic Violence Allegations Exposed In A Trial In San Francisco Court

Introduction – One of the reasons more domestic violence cases should go to trial is to have a “crack: at the lying victim…the victim who, motivated by an intent to harm the accused, tells multiple versions of her “story.”  There has never been a more critical use of the tool of cross examination than exposing the fraudulent “victim” at trial!

Here is the Story

False Allegations in California Case Illustrate Danger of Domestic Violence Laws

On the heels of a challenge to child custody, a young woman in California complained – and the District Attorney’s office charged  – a felony assault for smashing her head into a wall several times and threatening to kill she and her child.

As often happens in these cases, the prosecutor never truly “grilled” the victim about her story.  On the witness stand, the “victim” changed her story several times.  The District Attorney, embarrassed at the woman’s lack of credibility, dismissed the charges two weeks into the trial!

It was too late, the accused a 24 year old kitchen manager – already had lost everything he had, his job, and his reputation.  He demanded a trial – even though he was facing 5 years in prison – yes he was vindicated by a jury that actually clapped when the case was dismissed by the DA.

It is unknown in this recent case – February 2011 – whether the young lady was charged with making false charges.  She should face the kind of fear and anxiety the Defendant felt.

H. Michael’s Take:

The kind of travesty of justice that this case represents barely touches the surface of the problem of overreacting to allegations of sex assault or domestic violence by an individual without “testing” the truth of her story before the case goes to trial..

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner: