Domestic Violence Attorney
“Domestic violence” charges refer to crimes of violence between family members, people who have a romantic relationship with one another, people who share children in common, and people who have lived together. Domestic violence charges can include battery; assault; burglary with assault or battery; aggravated battery; aggravated battery by strangulation; tampering with a witness; as well as other crimes of violence.
When the police are called to a scene and believe that the parties are in some form of a domestic relationship, the police have almost no discretion regarding whether to arrest one or both of the people involved. If the police believe that one of the people has physically threatened or has actually physically battered (hit) the other person, the police will almost always arrest the accused individual.
Myths about Domestic Violence Cases
There are several myths surrounding domestic violence cases, and none of them is entirely true:
- “The government can’t file charges if I don’t agree, since I’m the victim.”
Many victims of domestic violence later decide, for a variety of reasons, that they do not want criminal charges filed against the defendant. The government does not need the victim’s approval to file charges, and frequently files charges against the victim’s wishes, in an effort to protect abused partners from being abused again.
- “If I don’t show up in court, the charges will have to be dropped.”
When victims and witnesses don’t appear in court to assist in the prosecution of a criminal case, the prosecutor’s job becomes more difficult, but not impossible. Prosecutors can and do proceed in criminal cases of domestic violence where they have other evidence, such as photographs of injuries or 911 recordings, to assist in proving their cases.
- “A verbal accusation alone is not enough for someone to be criminally charged.”
Prosecutors are allowed to use many types of evidence to prove their cases. A witness’ or victim’s verbal accusation is a form of testimony that can completely carry a criminal charge. Prosecutors certainly prefer to have other versions of evidence as well, but a victim’s statement is enough to obtain a conviction.
Special Factors in Domestic Violence Cases
Michelle’s clients have included both defendants and victims of domestic violence. She understands that the court treats these cases differently from “regular” criminal cases. Their representation requires an additional element of attention to certain issues aside from the usual examination of self-defense, defense of others, credibility issues, and evidentiary evaluation. Domestic violence cases also require consideration of the victim’s status, the desired relationship between the parties, the navigation of “stay-away” orders, and the examination of mental health and substance abuse issues.