As we all know, anyone charged with a crime is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Yep, that’s what they say! It is what we want to believe, but when it comes to charges of domestic violence, it does not always feel like a level playing field. If you have been charged with domestic violence, you would be well advised not to try and defend yourself. You need a lawyer, pronto!
Crime and punishment
Charges of domestic or intimate partner violence include harassment, intimidation, physical and psychological abuse, and stalking. The consequences can be severe and lasting. You can be sentenced to jail time, anger management, big fines, community service, restraining orders, and prohibited from ever possessing a fire arm again. Take our word for it, you don’t want to be representing yourself.
Depending on the apparent seriousness of the domestic violence offense you are charged with, the system may remove you from your home and/or children immediately. Police will arrest you if there is any evidence of assault – even a scratch.
(*Things may happen faster than you can secure a personal defense attorney. You may spend a night in jail and may be represented by a lawyer from the Public Defender’s office. But, if you can afford it, line up an attorney who specializes in defense against such charges.)
In most cases – usually a reflection of the seriousness with which the court takes the charges – the court will direct you to to have no contact with the alleged victim. This may apply to your home, workplace, spouse, and/or children. It may cost you your residence, job, and contact with your family, but “No Contact” means what it says.
If your inclination is to try to work things out with your partner, do not violate this court order. Violation is a crime in and of itself. If you earnestly believe things can be worked out, let your lawyer follow up on this.
Trials are not scheduled to suit you. Going to trial takes time, stress, and expense. But, a trial may be the only way out, and it may provide an opportunity to negotiate a more favorable settlement before the trial actually starts.
Your attorney will likely argue that the Prosecutor has not proven the case. The Burden of Proof is on the State, and they often cannot make the case for domestic violence. Most courts recognize self-defense as a valid defense against the charge, so this may also be a line of defense that your attorney pursues.
Note: Most Public Defenders are conscientious and experienced lawyers who know the ins-and-outs of District Court, but you may be more comfortable with an experienced private attorney – such as Drew Cochran – who specializes in this crime and can give your case maximum attention.