Dealing with a domestic violence charge

Dealing with Domestic Violence Charges

Domestic violence charges can result from a variety of criminal acts involving family members or people in an intimate relationship. Any of the following non-exhaustive crimes may constitute domestic violence:

  • homicide
  • assault
  • terroristic threats
  • kidnapping, criminal restraint, or false imprisonment
  • lewdness or sexual assault
  • criminal sexual contact
  • criminal mischief
  • burglary
  • criminal trespass
  • harassment, or
  • Stalking

If You Were Wrongfully Accused of Domestic Violence

If you believe that you are being wrongfully accused of something you did not do, you should not admit any guilt to the police or to the court.

Be very careful before you agree to speak to law enforcement officers or their agents, and before you sign anything.  Especially before you agree to a plea deal before consulting with an experienced lawyer. Law enforcement officials may tell you that agreeing to speak with them will result in a favorable plea deal or avoidance of other more serious consequences.  Don’t believe them. If you did not commit domestic violence, do not admit to it. Ask for a lawyer.  

Additionally, don’t agree to any domestic violence program or counseling and don’t agree to any civil restraints if they require an admission of bad acts.  Anything you say in this regard will invariably be used to try and secure a conviction against you later.

Preparing a Defense

The most common defense for domestic violence charges is self-defense. The self-defense argument ultimately asserts that the injuries suffered by the alleged victim were caused by a reasonable use of force by the defendant who was acting in self-defense. Effectively, it is to argue that the alleged victim was the actual aggressor and instigator of violence in the altercation. Oftentimes during a dispute within the home, accidents happen through no fault of either party.  Injuries can and do result from carelessness or the use of alcohol and/or drugs.  Police may not agree or believe certain individuals and they have an arrest policy: if they are called out to respond to a call for domestic violence, someone is going to jail.  Don’t let it be you.

Preparing for Trial

If you are the defendant in a domestic violence case, you should be adequately prepared for the trial process. Below are some helpful tools to keep in mind before trial: 

Gather Evidence from the Incident 

If you were wrongfully accused of violence, take photographs of your hands and other relevant parts of your body or face. If there are no marks, bruises, or scratches, that could be used as proof that you did not strike anyone. If the alleged victim was drunk or under the influence of narcotics during the incident, gather any evidence which may prove that the victim was intoxicated.  Be sure that you capture evidence with a device that has date and time stamp on it as proof of when the images or video were taken.

Find Witnesses 

If anyone witnessed (visually, or audibly) the altercation, you should seek to have that person give an official statement about what happened. They can also write a statement to the court detailing what they witnessed.  You should contact neighbors or friends, preferably through your lawyer or investigator, and collect statements.  These can be extremely valuable later on and at trial.

Get an Affidavit of Non-Prosecution

If the victim wrongfully accused you of domestic violence and wants to revoke their accusation, you should seek their affidavit of non-prosecution.

Although this does not automatically drop the charges (only a prosecutor has the discretion and ability to make such a decision), an admission by the victim claiming that you did not commit abuse may ultimately help your case. The government, through its prosecutors, is the one who ultimately determines whether to dismiss the action against you or not, however, this is always compelling evidence that may affect their desire to go forward with the case.  To do this, do not personally contact the victim to seek a recantation of their testimony. Instead, request that your lawyer (again through your investigator) handle this.

Dress Appropriately

It is important to look well-groomed and professional in front of the judge. Men should wear a suit and women should wear a business suit or conservative dress.  While it may seem trivial, appearances matter, and a small easy thing like this can help.

Find an Experienced Lawyer

Lastly, you should find a lawyer who is highly experienced in the area of domestic abuse or violence. Each domestic abuse case is unique. It takes an experienced lawyer to identify the best defense for your individual circumstances. Contact the Law Offices of David Silldorf today.

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