Domestic violence is among the most common crimes charged at the state level. But there is no actual crime called domestic violence. Domestic violence refers to the relationship between the accused and the victim. And sometimes, domestic violence doesn’t even have to be violent. Cyberstalking or stalking, for example, are not crimes of actual violence but still within the domestic violence subset. The difference between domestic violence and other criminal offenses is the way they are investigated and prosecuted. Almost every police department has a specific domestic crimes unit. The officers in those units are uniquely trained to deal with domestic violence victims and suspects accused of domestic violence. The same is true on the prosecution level, with specially trained prosecutors and judges assigned to these cases.
Anyone can be charged with a domestic violence crime. Often, the individuals who find themselves charged are otherwise law-abiding, productive, and good citizens. It can be one argument, one drink too many, one lapse in judgment, or a simple misunderstanding, yet an individual can find themselves in jail facing the loss of their job, career, home, or children. When facing a domestic violence charge, getting a quality lawyer and getting one fast is the best way to put that incident behind you.
What are Domestic Violence Crimes?
Domestic violence crimes are certain criminal offenses that involve a specific familial or immediate relationship between the accused and the alleged victim. Individuals who are either the significant other or ex-significant other, spouse, parent, child, or relative of the alleged victim can be charged with a domestic violence crime. The following offenses are often charged within the context of domestic violence:
Domestic Violence offenses are prosecuted more vigorously than other offenses. Prosecutors often seek enhanced penalties or supervision of individuals accused of domestic violence. It’s important to consult with a lawyer immediately to mitigate any exposure from a domestic violence charge.
What should I do if I don’t want to press charges?
People often think that they have to power to press or drop charges in a domestic violence crime whenever they want to. Significant others or spouses will call the police to teach their partner a lesson because of an argument, infidelity, or financial disagreements. They think that after their significant other spends a night or two in jail, they will drop the charges and allow them to come home. This is much more common than most of us would think.
However, the reality is that only the State can drop the charges or press charges. The person alleging that they were the victim of domestic violence is a witness. The state can subpoena them, against their will, to testify against their spouse, signification other or relative.
The best course of action is to speak with an attorney. Any witness has the ability to contact the attorney for the accused or consult with their own attorney. That is especially true for victims of alleged domestic violence crimes.
What should I do if I have been accused or arrested of a Domestic Violence crime?
The first thing you should do is call a lawyer. If a police officer or investigator tries to speak to you or get you to provide a statement, do not speak with them. Ask to speak with a lawyer first. The initial statements given to the first arriving officer in a domestic violence situation are often the most important statements in the investigation. So the best thing to do is remain silent. You will seldom talk a police officer out of arresting you in a domestic violence case. Someone is usually going to go to jail in that circumstance, especially if both parties are on the scene when the police arrive.
Heidi S. Kirlew
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