February 20, 2010

Colorado Supreme Court decision 2-16-10


People v. Disher            Domestic Violence / Definition of ‘Intimate Relationship’
At a court trial, a county court judge convicted Mr. Disher of harassment. However, the judge declined to order a domestic violence enhancer because the prosecution presented no evidence of an intimate relationship. The judge equated a sexual relationship with intimate relationship. The prosecution appealed to the District Court, and the District Court affirmed for the same reasons. The Colorado Supreme Court reversed, and found because ‘M.P.’, “describes her connection with Disher as an exclusive dating relationship and states that they had ‘broken up’ around Christmas. This brings their relationship within the type of interpersonal connection that the statute contemplates as it tries to curb relationship violence.”

The Court listed the following as factors:
(1) the length of time the relationship has existed, or did exist
(2) the nature or type of the relationship;
(3) the frequency of interaction between the parties.

“These factors are not intended to be an exhaustive list of the characteristics a court may consider; they are a guide that may be used in whole or in part. However, an intimate relationship should not include mere social or business acquaintances and friends. In summary, a sexual relationship may be an indicator of an intimate relationship, but a sexual relationship need not be present. The relationship must be more than that of a roommate, friend, or acquaintance; there must be a romantic attachment or shared parental status between the parties.”

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