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With October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month, domestic violence is in the spotlight.
What does that mean for you?
It will likely mean more people looking for and reporting potential domestic violence, which could lead to law enforcement officers showing up at your home to question you and investigate the alleged incident. Because of this, it is important to know how to act when dealing with police officers in your home. If you choose to act erratically when a police officer responds to a domestic violence call, you could find yourself in an unsafe situation.
Case-in-point: recently in Chewelah, Washington, a domestic violence call resulted in a deputy shooting at a suspect. Let’s first look at what happened during this domestic violence incident, and then review how you can stay safe if you find yourself on the wrong end of a domestic violence accusation.
Deputies from the Stevens County Sheriff’s Office and Chewelah police officers responded to a domestic violence call just after 5:30 p.m. where the victim said her husband – 82-year-old Byron Parmenter – had assaulted her and prevented her from leaving the house. Not only was she afraid, she also told officers her husband had access to weapons.
Eventually, the victim was able to run away from her house and call the police.
When the police arrived on the scene, Parmenter had locked himself in the house and would not comply with police orders to surrender. Parmenter even went as far as to wave a handgun and threatened to shoot the officers if they didn’t stand back.
At one point, a Stevens County deputy saw Parmenter aim his handgun at the deputy and one of the police officers. The deputy then fired his service weapon at Parmenter as he and the police officer attempted to take cover.
Luckily, Parmenter was not hit by the bullet.
Instead, Law enforcement continued to give Parmenter orders, but he was persistent in his defiance. He finally exited his house through the back and a K-9 took him to ground, where he was safely apprehended.
After receiving medical care at the scene, Parmenter was charged with “two counts of first degree assault, fourth degree assault (domestic violence) and unlawful imprisonment charges.”
The victim only sustained minor injuries from the supposed assault, and thankfully no police officers were injured.
Had Parmenter complied with the deputies and police officers on the scene – regardless of whether he committed the original alleged assault or not – he would not have been charged with first degree assault, which in Washington State is the charge for assaulting another person with a firearm.
Though the above story comes from Washington, it should be a lesson to you if you ever find yourself being accused of domestic violence here in Colorado. Although Parmenter was lucky that he wasn’t injured by the deputy’s shot, he will now have to deal with the consequences of waving a gun at a peace officer.
Even if you are innocent of domestic violence allegations, you need to know how to act in order to keep yourself safe.
If a police officer shows up to your house related to a domestic violence call, here’s what you should do to avoid an unsafe situation.
Be polite and respectful. When a police officer answers a domestic violence call, they’re just doing their job to make sure the alleged victim is safe. If you are rude and disrespectful, your demeanor can put the officer on alert and make him or her feel threatened. By being polite and respectful, you’re not giving them any reason to act or react any way but politely and respectfully to you.
Keep your emotions in check. You might be angry or upset by what’s going on, but try to keep your emotions in check and avoid yelling, cursing, or name-calling. That only gives officers fodder to paint you in a negative light and assume the worst right off the bat.
Comply with police orders. If an officer asks to see your hands, show them your hands. If an officer asks you to get on the ground, get on the ground. If an officer asks you to surrender, surrender. Disobeying a police order is enough to put an officer on edge and ramp up their tactics if you’re not going to comply.
If you’re being accused of domestic violence, the time to fight back and defend against your charges is in the courtroom – not when a police officer confronts you. How you act when a police officer shows up can be used against you. Don’t give them that opportunity. Instead, reach out to an experienced Colorado domestic violence lawyer to fight for your rights and get the justice you deserve.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.