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Law enforcement officials, government agencies, and the general public acknowledge that domestic violence is a serious problem affecting women and men who are married or in a romantic relationship. However, domestic violence can occur between two people in any type of relationship—including those in gay and lesbian relationships.
Studies have found that domestic violence between gay and lesbian couples occurs at rates that are comparable to those of straight couples. Now that same-sex marriage has been legalized and the public becomes increasingly aware of this problem, law enforcement and government agencies are paying increasing attention to domestic violence between gay and lesbian couples and taking charges more seriously.
Domestic violence can affect people of all ages, genders, and sexual orientation. Straight and same-sex domestic violence cases are often similar in many ways, including:
Both involve an act or threatened act of violence. Under Colorado law, any act or threatened act of violence upon a person you are in an intimate relationship with is considered domestic violence, regardless of whether it is between a man and a woman, two men, or two women. If you physically harm a partner or former partner, you can be charged with domestic violence, even if you were trying to defend yourself. You could also be charged with domestic violence for the “threatened” act of violence, which includes threatening to hurt someone, breaking their property, or even texting or calling them repeatedly.
Both require mandatory arrest. Domestic violence cases are unique because an officer responding to an alert is required to make an arrest if they have probable cause to believe domestic violence has occurred. That means if a partner, neighbor, or other witness calls and reports domestic violence, there’s a good chance you will be arrested.
Both are victim’s rights cases. Colorado considers all domestic violence cases—whether between a straight couple, same-sex couple, or roommates—to be victim’s rights cases. In your domestic violence case, your alleged victim will have a right to consult with the district attorney before any offers will be made, as well as speaking at your sentencing. The alleged victim can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case.
Both may involve a protective order. If you are accused of domestic violence, a court may issue a protective order that requires you to stay away from the alleged victim and refrain from all contact, including texting, emailing, and calling. You could even be barred from entering the home that you and your partner once lived in together, or from contacting any children the two of you may have.
Both involve serious penalties. Whether they involve straight or same-sex couples, all domestic violence convictions carry serious penalties. Depending on the circumstances of your case, you could be sentenced for assault or another violent crime, resulting in incarceration and fines. If the court finds that domestic violence was involved in your case, you may also be ordered to complete a domestic violence treatment program, lose your right to own a firearm, and be penalized with a lifelong criminal record.
Do not make the mistake of believing the court will not take your case seriously if you are in a gay or lesbian relationship. If you have been charged with a crime involving domestic violence, it’s critical to contact an experienced Colorado domestic violence attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can examine the unique circumstances of your case and help you develop an aggressive defense strategy. With a tough attorney in your corner, you may be able to avoid tough consequences to your freedom and reputation.
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.