The holiday season is – for the most part – a truly wonderful time. But the combination of extra financial stress, time with relatives, and in many cases liberal consumption of alcohol, can also lead to domestic disagreements, arguments, and fights. When situations devolve, people are often left asking themselves when the right point is to involve law enforcement – and what police will do if they call 911 on their partner.
The law requires police to make an arrest if they have probable cause – that is, a reasonable belief that a crime was committed by a person – for any “domestic violence” offense. Once arrested, a person is held without bond until they appear in front of a judge (which for a Friday night incident may not be until Monday morning) and in almost all cases, a judge will at least initially impose a no-contact order that will prohibit the arrestee from coming home.
What counts as “domestic violence” is far broader than most people would think. The State of Colorado categorizes any crime committed against an inmate partner as a “domestic violence” offense – and any crime includes things such as damaging jointly owned property, preventing a person from using a phone, blocking a person from exiting a room, shoving, pushing, and throwing objects. While most people would not be surprised to see their partner leave in handcuffs after an assault, they may be shocked to have the same outcome when they only intended to involve the police to deescalate the situation, and now their partner is being arrested for breaking a plate in frustration, blocking the door when they tried to step outside, or briefly taking their phone. Police are required to make an arrest if they have probable cause even if the call was originally intended to have some other purpose, like a welfare check, medical assistance, or a mental health crisis.
Once a person has been arrested, it is the State that pursues criminal charges. This means that the victim does not have the ability to “drop” the charges – the State can and does pursue charges even if the victim never intended for there to be a criminal case.
Even a low-level misdemeanor domestic violence charge can have life-altering consequences. If you or a loved on are facing such charges, it is essential to have an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side.