Due to dramatic changes in the law over the past decades, domestic violence is no longer viewed as a private matter to be dealt with inside the home. These cases are inherently emotional and can destroy relationships and break families apart. Specialized prosecution units coordinate with law enforcement to ensure a vigorous and rapid prosecution. Depending on the circumstances, domestic violence is defined as violence between:
Married or formerly married couples
Current or former dating partners
Parents of a child
Allegations of domestic violence often occur within the privacy of the home, and thus create classic examples of “he said, she said” accusations. Like the relationships themselves, allegations of domestic violence are often volatile and unpredictable. Verbal or physical provocation may precede instances of domestic violence. Once on scene, police officers will likely separate and interview all witnesses. Officers also look very closely for any injuries from the incident. Even minor scratches or red skin may give the officer corroborating evidence as to who was the “primary aggressor”.
The Police Response: Make an Arrest
All police departments have specific protocols for handling domestic violence cases, and there is a “pro-arrest” policy throughout police departments. In almost all cases, police initially arrest the person identified as the “primary aggressor”. Of course, this doesn’t take into account issues concerning false statements to the police, self-defense, and the victim’s intoxication. Make no mistake – the police are looking to end the possibility of continued violence, and one way to do that is take someone to jail.
The Inconvenient Truth: Victims Lie
If an alleged victim who first told police a lie, later changes their statement and decides to tell the truth, the prosecution may attempt to characterize this crucial development as an attempt to help the defendant beat the case. In the heat of an argument, people do not always tell the truth; others may exaggerate the truth – especially if they are intoxicated or have an ulterior motive to lie. As a result, alleged victims of domestic violence often desire to “drop the case” because they didn’t provide a completely truthful account of what occurred. Alleged victims of domestic violence have a right not to testify, but the prosecution team will never tell them; it is their goal to seek a conviction, no matter the alleged victim’s desires.
Consequences of a domestic violence conviction may include:
Significant jail or prison sentences
104 hours of court-mandated counseling
Hundreds of dollars in fines
Protective stay-away orders
Adverse effects on Family Law proceedings
The biggest misconception in Domestic Violence cases is that an alleged victim can decline to “press charges”. To be clear, it is entirely ineffective to later contact the police or prosecutor to “drop the charges”. Once the police are involved, you need Criminal Defense Attorney Scott Newbould to effectively defend against domestic violence charges. Please contact me immediately to develop a defense strategy.