Colorado S. Court Ruling in DV Cases: “intimate relationship” not synonymous with sexual relationship

Colorado Supreme Court — February 16, 2010
No. 07SC1088. People v. Disher.

People v. Disher is a domestic violence criminal case appealed by the Adams County District Attorney’s Office to the Colorado Supreme Court. The issue was whether a sexual relationship is necessary to prove an intimate relationship in order to invoke a domestic violence sentencing enhancer.  

The Adams County District Attorney petitioned for certiorari, challenging the district court’s affirmance of a county court ruling that no domestic violence evaluation could be required of defendant James Brian Disher when he was convicted of harassing a woman whom he had dated. Under the relevant statute, the perpetrator of a crime and his or her victim must be, or have been, in an “intimate relationship” for the crime to constitute domestic violence. § 18-6-800.3, C.R.S. (2009). The county court held that evidence of a sexual relationship must be presented before a court can find that an intimate relationship exists. Because the county court heard no evidence of a sexual relationship, and therefore found no intimate relationship, the court ruled that Disher could not be required to undergo a domestic violence evaluation after he was convicted of harassing the victim. On appeal the district court upheld the county court ruling.

The Supreme Court reversed the district court and held that evidence of a sexual relationship is not necessary to establish the existence of an intimate relationship. The opinion states that  “a sexual relationship may be an indicator, but never a necessary condition, of an intimate relationship for the purpose of the Colorado domestic violence statute.”

The full opinion can be accessed here.


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