Colorado Criminal Domestic Violence Law – The Impact of the Federal Violence Against Women Act in Colorado Domestic Violence Cases.
What is The VAWA ? – The Violence Against Women Act – What Effect Has It Had On States Such As Colorado? H. Michael Steinberg Colorado Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Lawyer – Law Firm
VAWA stands for the .Violence Against Women Act. It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. The purpose of the law can be easily guessed by its name. It was created in order to bring attention to and to allocate funds for the purpose of protecting women, children and providing educational programs to help prevent domestic violence. So far its sounds like a good law right?
Let us look further.
VAWA includes new penalties for gender-related violence. In addition it provides grant programs to encourage states to deal with domestic violence and sexual assault issues. Some of the grants that it offers are law enforcement and prosecution grants (STOP grants), grants to encourage law enforcement officers to make more arrests, grants that address rural domestic violence and child abuse enforcement, monies to support a National Domestic Violence Hotline and grants to create and support battered women’s shelters. In order to keep the money flowing, more women needed to be identified needing assistance and more men needed to go to jail.
In 2000, the provisions that were set forth in the original VAWA law had run out. It was up to legislators to reevaluate and renew VAWA. Just when thousands of innocent men who had been plagued by false accusations thought the worst was over, the new provisions only made things more unbearable. Lawmakers stated that the final version of VAWA only had minor changes, but this was far from the truth.
The 2000 VAWA laws added more money and new programs. The basis was still that all women needed to be protected from men. The more men that were accused and locked up, the more money that flows to states in the form of grants. The final 2000 version of VAWA reauthorization was a continuation of already existing programs with a few improvements, additions and funding increases. The following is a summary of the major components of the legislation. In fact, it allocated $3.3 billion over five years.
The STOP grants, were similar to those in the 1994 version in that they were created to assist in the training of officers and prosecutors. They wanted to make sure that when a man was accused that they were caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. In fact, $925 million was allocated over five years for that very purpose.
This $925 million was the largest part of the total amount allocated under VAWA and it is supposed to be distributed to each state, which then distribute it to police, prosecutors, courts and state and local victims services agencies. The main purpose of this money was to improve and increase law enforcement activities against men accused of domestic violence. The hope was that more women could be protected from a mythical epidemic of violence. The heart of VAWA on the surface seems to be in the right place, but the in reality, the misuse of VAWA is both shocking and horrifying.
The 2000 version of VAWA also gave $875 million over five years to states to set up and run women.s shelters. These shelters are for abused women and their children. The grants begin at $600,000 a year and then the rest of the funds are allocated according to a state.s population.
The 2000 version created more programs which of course meant more tax payer dollars and more men that need to be targeted and brought down. One of the most shocking new programs was the Civil Legal Assistance. It was allocated $200 million over five years. This assistance is to help women in court with protection orders, family court matters, housing, immigration and administrative matters.
The amount allocated to help innocent men that find themselves hauled into court is absolutely nothing. The result is a man stands alone in court while his female accuser is provided low-cost or free legal representation.
Most men do not have a chance when faced with this situation.
For those women that state that they need a place to live because their mate is abusive can access a $25 million per year transitional housing program.
Men Thrown Onto the Street And Forced To Have Supervised Visits With Their Children
Men that are thrown out on the street with little more than the shirt on their back do not receive any state or federal assistance. Another similar program that drew $30 million over two years was the center for visitation of fathers and their children. Even though many times there are no allegations of neglect or abuse by a father and his children, he is forced to visit his children in a room under the watchful eyes of social workers and even the victim parent.
The Effect of the Full Faith and Credit Law on Interstate Domestic Violence Orders
A program that was designed to help keep the money flowing even between states is the Full Faith and Credit program.. This allows for domestic violence orders to be recognized and accepted from state to state. It provides money to encourage the arrest of people that have violated an order in another state. It provides for equipment and personnel to bring these ¡°men¡± into court and send them to prison. Money is a great motivator. It does not matter about justice, just as long as states and federal grants are paying the bill.
Immigration “Incentives” to Alleged Battered Illegal Immigrant Victims To Lie
One of the most ridiculous and least mentioned programs is the Battered Immigrant Women Legislation.. This provides VAWA protection for illegal immigrants. You read it right. A woman can be in the United States illegally and utilize programs that are paid for with your tax money. This part of VAWA removes the U.S. residency requirement and “extreme hardship” requirements for immigrant women to receive VAWA protections. This law allows women who have claimed they are battered to gain lawful permanent residence within the United States. They do not have to leave the country if they are a battered woman. This part of VAW creates a new type of visa for victims of alleged abuse crimes. What better motivator is there for a woman to state that she was battered by a man?
VAWA and Allegations of “Dating Violence”
In the 2000 version of VAWA was the creation of the terms of dating violence and grants were created to develop programs to deal with dating violence. Men no longer had to worry about being in a relationship and being falsely accused of battering a woman, but now they were being targeted in a dating situation.
Why The VAWA Is Unfairly Applied
The problem with VAWA is that it is too liberal with its rules, laws, definitions and monetary allocations. Later in this document I will deal with how easily the system is manipulated in favor of women and thus many innocent men are dragged through the court system.
Men can lose their home, car, livelihood, children and even their freedom, all based on a woman making a false accusation that he threatened her.
In 2005, President Bush reauthorized VAWA. Through each reauthorization more money is allocated, programs are expanded and new programs are added. The VAWA monster grows each time as lawmakers claim that domestic violence is an epidemic that needs more money thrown at it.
In fact, lawmakers state that one in four women is affected by domestic violence. This number seems extremely inflated and there is little evidence offered to support these claims.
In 2005, more money was allocated toward housing issues of abused women. The statistic used was that 92 % of women that are homeless have been raped or physically abused. The new legislature provides protection against eviction and creates laws to keep the whereabouts of women in homeless shelters confidential. No where in VAWA does it mention how many men are homeless due to false accusations made about them in court.
VAWA has stripped men and fathers of their rights, their dignity and their lives.
The Components of VAWA
Currently there are nine components that make up VAWA. The insidious
and twisted impact of VAWA – all of it is directed toward removing men from the home and breaking up families is devoid of programs to help displaced men or assist them in keeping their family together. Men become nothing more than shoddy statistics that demonize them and make them look like hulking monsters out to rape and hit women.
These are the STOP grants. that provide programs for law enforcement and prosecutors to put the “bad guys” away. There are no penalties for women if they make false allegations. If a man loses his job, home or children because a woman makes false claims against him, legally she is not even required to say she is sorry.
The system is on her side, and even if a man is found innocent, his reputation is damaged forever.
To Receive Funding The DV Programs “Have To Be Successful”
Part of the stipulation of these grants is that in order to continue to receive funding, the percentage of men found guilty of violent crimes is to increase. There is no definition of how these numbers are supposed to rise, only that they need to increase upwards to 50%. Here is the motivation of police, prosecutors and judges to make sure they arrest men and make sure the arrest sticks.
Tax Dollars Provided To The Victims of Domestic Violence Under Title I
Legal assistance for women is also under Title I. As mentioned before, this assistance is paid for by your tax dollars. Eligibility is simple- a woman needs only say she is the victim of domestic violence. You will notice that I say that women are victims and men are perpetrators. This is because, even if a man is being abused in a relationship, VAWA is not set up to help him. Because men are on the average bigger and stronger, women are always considered the victim that needs to be protected.
Under Title I, there are new definitions about what assault and sexual assault is in state statutes. This provides for a better way to word domestic violence orders to include just about anything so that a woman can make sure that her accusations cause a man to be found guilty and a restraining order to be put into place.
Why The Alleged Victims of Domestic Violence Seek A Finding of An Act Of Domestic Violence
Here are some ulterior motives have when seeking a domestic violence order:
A. To gain an advantage in a divorce; (Some divorce lawyers routinely advise getting one.)
B. To quickly get custody of your children without a hearing;
C. She is tired of being ignored or unloved;
D. To keep you from your children as a cruel punishment;
E. To stop you from modifying custody after your child expresses a desire to live with you.
F. To quickly put you out of the house without an eviction or a Probate Court hearing;
G. To allow the complainant to get a new boy/girlfriend into the picture and you out;
H. To get vengeance for some offense you did to her, such as cheating;
I. To control or manipulate you, or get leverage in some way;
J. She got manipulated by a victim-witness advocate;
K. To enjoy watching you suffer.
L. To obtain money and assistance from a domestic abuse shelter;
M. You have been a complete jerk, and she just doesn.t want you around anymore.
Domestic Violence Orders (DVO), succeed in tearing a father out of the lives of his children, based only upon allegations. Once an order is granted, it is nearly impossible to get a DVO removed and they are often used as a basis for permanent child custody issues.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is broad term as it encompasses a number of different act. They can be summarized into three basic headings: sexual assault, physical assault, and verbal threats.
This type of assault includes the term rape. Rape however, is a term that is used too often and incorrectly. Rape is forced intercourse. Intercourse is the key. Unless there is penetration, it is not rape. Now there are other forms of sexual assault: such as, forced sodomy, but these are different crimes and have different sets of definitions and punishments associated with them.
The unifying condition of all sexual assault cases in adults is consent. If someone says “No” then anything that happens after that is sexual assault. In the case of children, minors under a certain age do not have the ability to consent to any type of sexual contact.
This is important because oftentimes a woman may accuse a man of raping her. When the details are sorted out, intercourse and consent are not even mentioned. Because this is such an emotional subject, people respond very emotionally including judges. Sexual assaults certainly do occur, but in many cases it is her word against his without any proof. In the court of law, most of the time a judge will err on the side of believing the woman.
The basic component of physical assault is physical contact between two bodies or contact of a body and an object, however slight. The other component is that the contact is unwanted. There are many levels of assault. Some of them contain physical injury or the use of a weapon. A weapon can be defined as just about any object that can cause physical damage.
Under VAWA a woman can claim she was assaulted. She does not have to show any physical signs of an assault, only that one has occurred. Once a man has their day in court they can demand evidence or witnesses. Even the lack of credible evidence does not mean that he will be found innocent. Again, judges are programmed and even motivated to err on the side of protecting the woman, just because she is asking for it.
The laws of evidence can be very lax in these types of proceedings.
A threat does not always have to be spoken. Sometimes they can be written or in this age of computers and cell phones they can be in the form of emails or text messages. A verbal threat is anything that causes the other party to be in fear of their life or well being. It does not even have to be a direct threat, it can be a “feeling” a woman has by the man’s tone of voice or body language. It is up to a judge to decide whether this constitutes a threat. As long as a woman can convince a judge they were in fear, the likelihood of being granted a DVO is high.
What is a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order?
VAWA opened the way for a woman to be able to go to court and have a judge create an order that protected her and her children from harm or the threat of harm. This is called different things in different states: such as: a “Restraining Order, Order of Protection, Domestic Violence Order or even an Injunction for Protection.” No matter what name it goes under, the results are the procedures are similar.
A woman will often begin by seeking out an attorney or a court advocate. A court advocate is sometimes referred to as a “victim-witness” advocate, or some other similarly named interloper. The Violence Against Women Act,. pays for these people to be at every court in order to assist petitioners as they obtain restraining orders. Officially, these advocates help fill out the paperwork and suggest the phrasing that will be most likely to convince a judge that the man is a menace. These women usually accompany the “victim” to the hearing, and stand next to her, sometimes stroking their hand, cuing tears at the right time, and otherwise emotionally manipulating the proceedings.
The woman will fill out the necessary paperwork and then speak with a judge. DVOs can be obtained without any of the usual constitutional protections that are present in our legal system, such as “due process.” Without a jury, without rules of evidence, without evidence of any sort, and without the other party being present (called “ex parte”), a woman can merely claim to be afraid of you and is often granted this type of order.
Protection orders usually require a man to stay away from their home, no contact with their children, forfeiture of firearms, and not contact the person who is now known legally as the “victim.” A man will have an opportunity to appear for a hearing where they can give their side of the story, usually scheduled within one to two weeks. Meanwhile the man will have to live by the restrictions stated in the order.
How Long Does a DVO Last?
During the first ex parte hearing the defendant is not given any notice. It is very easy for someone to make exaggerated claims and get an order, since there is no one there to object or present the other side of the story. The order will be faxed to the local police department where the defendant lives, and served by the police to the unlucky recipient.
If an order is issued at the ex parte hearing, then a second hearing is set up within 14 days, at which time the defendant or responding party is notified and invited to attend. Not a lot of time to prepare. Meanwhile, the man has usually been tossed out of his home with nothing but a few clothes, no money, no car, and is an emotional wreck.
At the second hearing, when both parties are present, the burden of proof is placed upon the party seeking the order. This burden of proof is proven under a fairly low standard, it is called a preponderance of evidence, meaning “more likely than not.” If it is ordered it is a permanent order.
What Happens if the Man Violates the Order?
It is strongly recommended that a man follow the order to the letter, because a violation of an order will result in criminal prosecution. A judge makes the order and it can not be undone by anyone accept a judge. The Judge who issued the original order is usually the judge that will be presiding over the second hearing. Many men have been lulled into thinking that the woman that can give them permission to have contact with one another.
Even if the woman states that she is going to dismiss it when the hearing comes around, you should wait to make any contact until it is legally dismissed.
Therefore, even is the woman says she will ask for a dismissal, only the judge can decide whether it can be dismissed or not.
Another thing that can occur is that if someone sees you talking to the victim they can call the police and have you arrested. Even if the woman tells the police that it is all right, the police must follow a court order. Remember the victim cannot give you permission to break a court order.
A man can be duped into a false sense of security. The “victim” may call you tell you she made a mistake and wants to reconcile now that she’s cooled off. If you are lulled into a false sense of security, you can find yourself handcuffed in the back of a police car the moment she gets mad at you again. Remember; do not make contact until a judge has told you that you can do so. If they contact you, hang up!
Even if the man has done nothing, they can lose their job, family, car, house, firearms and just about everything else. This can all occur before they ever have the opportunity to speak in court. If a man violates a court order, even under the best of intentions, they will most likely find themselves in jail. After that, the hope of beating the DVO becomes fainter and fainter.
Violations can have a monetary cost because a man may have to come up with bail money. The restrictions on the order will often become tighter and stricter if it is violated. This will also damage a man’s ability to win in any kind of custody battle later on.
So what can a man lose by violating these orders, no matter how crazy they may seem? The answer is that they can lose EVERYTHING!
VAWA and PAS
Parental Alienation Syndrome (PAS) is a real problem that is growing in America today. It is a disease that destroys and rips families apart. This occurs when one parent is made to look like a horrible demon to his children. The children are told that their father is no good, a bum and dangerous.
VAWA has allowed this disease to grow and has actually made matters much worse. Now mothers can create situations that they not only are able to tell lies about a child’s father, but they are rewarded for it by free legal fees, a new place to live and a large child support order that will make the father pay even more. Once a DVO is in place a mother can really demonize a father. They can tell the children that they need to be protected from him. Over time, children will begin to believe this lie. They will not want to see or have anything to do with their father.
VAWA was created in order to help women and children. As it stands now, it creates and encourages the disintegration of a family. Father’s are made into ogres that should not be a part of their children.s life. Here are some staggering statistics that make PAS even more evil.
According to a 1999 report of the Department of Health and Human Services:
-Girls without a father in their life are two and a half times as likely to get pregnant and 53 percent more likely to commit suicide.
-Boys without a father in their life are 63 percent more likely to run away and 37 percent more likely to abuse drugs.
-Both girls and boys are twice as likely to drop out of high school, twice as likely to end up in jail and nearly four times as likely to need help for emotional or behavioral problems.
-90% of all homeless and runaway children are from fatherless homes.
-85% of all children that exhibit behavioral disorders come from fatherless homes. [Center for Disease Control]
-80% of rapists are motivated by displaced anger that comes from fatherless homes. [Criminal Justice and Behavior, Vol. 14 p. 403-26]
-71% of all high school dropouts come from fatherless homes. [National Principals Association Report on the State of High Schools]
-70% of juveniles in state operated institutions come from fatherless homes [U.S. Dept. of Justice, Special Report, Sept., 1988]
-85% of all youths sitting in prisons grew up in a fatherless home. [Fulton County Georgia Jail Populations and Texas Dept. of Corrections, 1992]
-Nearly 2 of every 5 children in America do not live with their fathers. [US News and World Report, February 27, 1995, p.39]
-40% of mothers reported that they had interfered with the father¡¯s visitation to punish their ex-spouse. [“Frequency of Visitation” by Sanford Braver, American Journal of Orthopsychiatry]
-50% of mothers see no value in the fathers continued contact with his children. [“Surviving the Breakup” by Joan Berlin Kelly]
-37.9% of fathers are denied any visitation.
The Root of All Evil
VAWA grew from the complaint many women had about not having sufficient protection. They wanted to take their children out of an abusive situation and be given services to start a new life. For those actually needing the service, VAWA is a Godsend. For the majority of cases that come under the umbrella of VAWA, false allegations are costing this country about 20 billion dollars every year. There are three areas that support the notion that VAWA is the root of all evil.
1. Each year our nation spends $4 billion for domestic violence programs.
2. Each year about 175,000 children are involved in a divorce with a false allegation of domestic violence.
3. These claims contribute to $20 billion in public costs and taxpayer burden associated with single-parent families.
Where does this nightmare stop? It is up to the voters to contact their congressmen to bring attention to this horrible creation that is tearing the very fabric of society in our nation. Under VAWA, men are the enemy and must be put away and torn from their children. The system allows baseless accusations to run amuck with no system of checks and balances. In some court situations, a woman does not even have to give testimony under oath, so there is not even the danger of perjury. The scales are tipped way in the favor of woman, much to the determent of men.