Select Domestic Violence Results

The results above reveal the varying ways domestic violence cases are handled by prosecutors and the similarities in how the cases are often resolved.

All domestic violence cases are taken quite seriously. In most jurisdictions, no matter how slight the injury, the arrest is classified as a felony and bail is set accordingly. We think this is an unfair windfall to the many bail bond companies because a good percentage of such cases are filed as misdemeanors later.

Such cases are taken seriously because usually the man is the aggressor and a weaker, smaller woman is often the victim. There seems to be an understanding, often misplaced, that the man has committed domestic violence many, many times before, but it was never reported. Therefore, representing the aggressor begins with a “guilty until proven innocent” atmosphere even when there are no visible injuries and the victim recants her story told to the police.

Compounding the difficulties in such cases can be immigration issues, divorce proceedings, child custody proceeding and maybe even a parallel civil restraining order that involves an emergency protective order that appears redundant to the criminal protective order issued at the arraignment.

Consequently, it is important to have an experienced criminal defense attorney know how to attend to all these issues so that the result from the case does not complicate the client’s situation any more.

The first thing I always want to know is whether the so-called victim is cooperative or vindictive. When the victim is eager to speak to my office, I certainly must be careful not to cross the line into any conduct that could be claimed to be witness tampering or witness intimidation. Therefore, we often use a third party investigator to secure a declaration from the victim, signed under oath, that states the facts of the case.

When the victim is desirous of having our client back into the home, we may ask the judge for a modification of the protective order to “peaceful contact only.” This can help with household duties such as child care responsibilities, but it is paramount that the client really does not pose any threat to the alleged victim.

How the case resolves is heavily dependent upon the client’s past criminal history, especially for violence and particularly for domestic violence, as well as the victim’s injuries and her (or his) desire for prosecution.

Ten years ago, and even five years ago, it was much easier than it is today to resolve such cases for a plea bargain that may have involved diversion, disturbing the peace or trespass, but these type of plea bargains are more rare today. The “shadow of O.J.” still serves as a grim reminder to any D.A. who dares to believe a defendant or victim that “it was all a misunderstanding” and dismiss the case. No prosecutor wants to be the one who dismisses a domestic violence case only to have the defendant get even with the victim with a fatal blow. With some prosecutors, we see the “shadow of O.J.” acting as a reason for the prosecutor to become more inflexible and more sadistic in the plea bargain offered, often when the facts of the case and our client have no similarities to the famous case.

Therefore, we recognize that damage control sadly is often the most common course we follow to resolve the case on the least damaging terms. We can ask the judge for an order to allow the client to enroll in the batterer’s program early and take classes at an accelerate rate. We can agree to our client attending AA or NA meetings if doing so will cause the prosecutor to agree to minimum terms of punishment. Lastly, we can ask the prosecutor to amend the complaint to allege a charge that avoids the lifetime ban on owning a firearm under federal law.

Contact us.