Most people are also unaware that the alleged victim in a domestic violence case does not have the power to drop the charges. Once a person is arrested and brought before a court for arraignment, the district attorney’s office takes control of the case. Most prosecutors will never agree to dismiss domestic violence charges at an arraignment. That means that if you are charged with domestic assault and battery, violation of a restraining order or any other type of domestic violence, you should hire a good attorney to work toward ultimately getting the case dismissed.
If you are an alleged victim of domestic violence who is seeking to have criminal charges dropped against your boyfriend, girlfriend, spouse or relative, then you should be prepared to withstand a lot of pressure from the district attorney’s office. Early in the process, you will likely be contacted by a victim-witness advocate from the district attorney’s office. The advocate’s job is to provide information to an alleged victim and get input from him or her about how the case should be handled. Often, a victim-witness advocate will try to persuade an alleged victim to go forward with the charge, i.e., to testify against his or her loved one. An alleged victim who is unfamiliar with the justice system often winds up confused. You should be aware that unless you are married to the person who is charged with the crime, the district attorney’s office can likely force you to testify. The D.A.’s office needs only to make sure that you have been served in hand with a subpoena. You may then be forced to appear in court and testify — or risk being jailed yourself for contempt.
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Of course, sometimes charges of domestic violence are simply false. In many of these cases, there are parallel divorce proceedings where emotions are running high, custody of children is at issue and restraining orders are sought. Unscrupulous divorce attorneys will sometimes advise their clients to file a criminal charge of domestic violence against a former partner to gain leverage in a divorce action. If you have been charged with family violence or spousal abuse during a divorce, you need a lawyer who can quickly assimilate the facts of the situation and protect your interests.
For noncitizen spouses who wish to divorce, but are fearful of being deported as a result, there is a strong potential for abuse of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). Simply by claiming to be a victim of domestic violence — even when the allegations are patently false — a noncitizen spouse may put herself or himself on a fast track toward obtaining a green card. In this way, our government has provided an incentive for someone to falsely claim domestic violence — to the detriment of the innocent spouse.
A charge of domestic violence or spousal abuse puts you at risk of having your private life become public information. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be sensitive to all aspects of your case, both inside and outside the courtroom. Your reputation and your future are at stake. If you are not a U.S. citizen, a domestic violence conviction could affect your immigration status and ultimately lead to deportation.
A skillful defense lawyer can raise issues that may resolve a case without the necessity of going to trial and without the necessity of admitting to the charge or pleading guilty. The sensitive nature of these cases makes it all the more important that you retain a battle-tested attorney who will fight for you till the end.
At Scott M. Brown & Associates, we vigorously defend people accused of spousal abuse, child abuse and other types of alleged domestic violence. We will fight for your rights and freedom.
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