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:
- terroristic threats
- kidnapping, criminal restraint, or false imprisonment
- lewdness or sexual assault
- criminal sexual contact
- criminal mischief
- criminal trespass
- harassment, or
Unless the characteristics of a crime fit the domestic violence charge,
a judge may dismiss the case under “subject matter jurisdiction.”
In other words, a judge can dismiss a domestic violence case if it does
not properly fit the criteria.
If you were wrongfully accused of domestic violence
If you believe that you are
being wrongfully accused for something you did not do, you should not admit any guilt to police
or to the court.
Be very careful before you sign anything. Especially before you agree to
a plea deal before consulting with an experienced lawyer. Police or prosecutors
may tell you that a plea deal will result in avoidance of jail or other
harsher consequences. Don’t believe them. If you did not commit
domestic abuse, 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 claims that the injuries suffered
by the alleged victim were caused by a reasonable use of force of the
defendant, acting in self-defense. Effectively, it is to argue that the
alleged victim was actually the 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.
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 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 stamps on it as proof of when the images or video were taken.
If anyone witnessed the altercation, you should seek to that have that
person testify 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, an admission by
the victim claiming that you did not commit abuse may ultimately help
your case. The state 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 prosecution. 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)
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. Each domestic
abuse case is unique. It takes an experienced lawyer to identify the best
defense for your individual circumstances.