Domestic violence cases can vary greatly, from misdemeanor harassment to murder. Domestic violence is not a crime in and of itself. If there is a separate crime and a domestic relationship between the defendant and victim, the domestic violence statute requires certain penalties and procedures. That specific crime must first be proven. This can be assault, harassment, criminal mischief, menacing, stalking, kidnapping, or even attempted or completed manslaughter or murder. There are both misdemeanor and felony level charges for much of these, which often depends on how serious the injuries are claimed to be whether a weapon was involved. There is also a felony level assault for repeat offenders.
Many of these charges are largely victim driven, but all are different. How the case is handled will depend on the total evidence, severity of the case, and your history. Unfortunately, these allegations are often driven by emotions and may be used as leverage in divorce and child custody proceedings. And they carry serious consequences from jail time, probation, difficult and expensive counseling, and a permanent loss of your right to own weapons. This can result in the loss of a military, law enforcement, or security career.
Many people feel they do not need an attorney for these cases because the victim will not show or no one will believe this person. However, if you are wrong about this, you could suffer tremendously. Victims often change their mind on how they feel about these cases. And the District Attorney can bring the victim in by force if the judge approves a warrant. A good prosecutor will get that warrant on any significant case. A skillful District Attorney will also prepare the victim for testimony and he or she might appear to be a very different person in court than the person you know. Preparation is necessary to cross-examine the person and have witnesses ready to rebut false testimony.
Many people also wrongly assume that victim cooperation is necessary. This is not always true. A neighbor might have seen something, there may have been visible injuries, or the police could be allowed to describe an alleged victim’s statements. Statements on 911 calls often come into evidence despite the absence of the person from court. And the police might claim you admitted committing the crime, which could be a total fabrication.
I have a history on both the prosecution and defense of these cases. I will explain all your options and thoroughly prepare your defense. These are usually not the simple he said-she said cases portrayed by some. Even if there are no eye-witnesses, changing statements, past behavior, and a history of honesty or dishonesty can make the difference. I have been successful in getting cases dismissed, not only where an alleged victim wanted the dismissal, but in cases where a victim wanted to prosecute when we were able to convince the prosecution to drop the case because we had evidence the victim was not hones. Contact me to discuss if you are facing such a charge.