Divorce and Domestic Violence: “Don’t Touch”

Divorce, at the very least, is an emotional time for anyone going through the process. Unfortunately, it is a time where your emotions can get the best of you.

Imagine a scenario where you are in the process of a divorce and you need to speak with your still current spouse. They don’t want to speak to you and ignore you by text messaging on their phone. You reach out and take the phone from your spouse in an effort to get them to talk to you…Have you committed a crime?

Imagine that you find out that your significant other is having an affair and when you confront them they admit to you that they have been unfaithful. Your emotions get the best of you and you slap them… Have you committed a crime?

Imagine that your significant other hands you divorce papers. Your upset and hurt and as you confront them about the divorce you punch the wall in front of your spouse, causing the dry wall to crack…Have you committed a crime?

The answer to all three questions above is “yes” and more importantly they can all be considered acts of domestic violence. In the first scenario, by knowingly preventing the sending of a message via telephone you have committed obstruction of telephone service, a class one misdemeanor[i]. A fairly easy offense to commit even with completely benign intentions.  The second scenario shows an act of harassment or possibly third degree assault, class three and class one misdemeanors respectfully[ii]. Finally, the third scenario demonstrates criminal mischief, knowingly damaging real or personal property of another or property jointly owned, and depending on the value of the thing damaged could be filed as a felony[iii]. Further, if any of these acts were committed as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge they can be found to be acts of domestic violence (not including scenario two; an act or threatened act of violence qualifies all by itself)[iv].

All three of these scenarios can happen to the best of us so it is important to keep in mind a simple piece of advice, “don’t touch”. Don’t touch their phone while they are using it. Don’t touch them with the intent to cause pain or injury, or to annoy or alarm. Don’t touch that item if you think you might break it. Divorce can be difficult and emotionally tasking, there is no need to add to the stress by incurring a criminal matter.

[i] C.R.S. § 18-9-306.5

[ii] C.R.S. § 18-9-111 and C.R.S 18-3-204

[iii] C.R.S §18-4-501

[iv] C.R.S § 18-6-800.3

(written by Andrew LeClere)