About Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a serious issue throughout the country that affects entire families negatively and can even tear them apart. One of the biggest misconceptions about domestic violence is that men are always the aggressors; although most victims of domestic violence are female, there are quite a few men who become victims of domestic violence as well. According to a report by the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) more than 1 out of 3 women and more than 1 in 4 men across the nation have reported being victims of physical violence, stalking, or rape by an intimate partner during their lifetime. 

Simply consider the fact that there are a lot of domestic violence incidents that do not even get reported and you will begin to understand just how big of a problem domestic violence is. Imagine a married couple that has a violent scuffle because of one of many possible reasons, if someone happens to call the police about the incident, officers will arrive on the scene to try to figure out what is happening and what to do about it. Even with little evidence of physical violence, the officers can actually file charges against either of the two people involved, although it will most likely be the man who gets charged and arrested. Once this has happened, the other spouse might realize that she does not want her husband charged with domestic violence. In this situation, you would think that the wife can simply state that she will not be going through with the charges and that would be that; but that is not the case. When things get complicated with domestic violence issues, contacting a criminal law attorney is a good idea.

Domestic Violence Charges and The Prosecutor’s Office

Once police officers have made a domestic violence arrest and filed charges, the prosecutor’s office gets involved because they are the ones who see criminal cases to the end. If there is enough evidence that domestic violence did occur, the prosecutor’s office will decide to pursue the charges in court and can even upgrade those charges or file even more depending on the circumstances of the case. Even if the victim goes to the prosecutor’s office and demands that they drop the charges, the prosecutor’s office has to continue to do its job because a crime has been committed, or at the very least they have enough evidence that suggests so and think that they can get the defendant to admit it or to win in court. 

Whether the charges proceed or not is not up to the victim, this is a misconception that a lot of people have because of TV and movies, but that is just not how it works; once the justice system’s wheels have begun to turn, they must follow a certain path before a domestic violence case can be concluded. However, the victim of the domestic violence charge has a lot to do with the case and is certainly the best witness when the time comes to testify, if it comes to that since it almost never does.

The Victims Importance in a Domestic Violence Case

Once charges for a domestic violence incident have been filed by the authorities, the victim of the crime becomes the most important person involved with the case. Having to testify about what happened is a possibility if the case goes to trial. But because of the way that prosecutors do their jobs, people who are charged with domestic violence or any other crime rarely take their cases to trial. This is because the prosecution will offer them a deal that they can take in order to avoid trial; this strategy ensures that the court system is not inundated with more cases than it could possibly handle. 

Of course, taking a deal means admitting guilt and a lot of people truly feel that they are not guilty of the crime that they are being charged with and choose to go to trial. If the case does indeed go to trial, the prosecution will most likely call the victim to the stand in order to testify about what happened. However, victims can choose to not testify in some states such as California; although there can be negative consequences as a result of this action so if the victim is considering this course of events, he or she should consult with an experienced attorney about it. Often, the judge might realize that it is better for everyone involved to simply dismiss the case because of insufficient evidence or other reasons; in such a case, the judge might want to hear input from the victim about letting the defendant go and call him or him in to speak.

Criminal Domestic Charges VS. Civil Suits

Even if the victim of domestic violence does not want charges filed or pursued against the defendant, she or he can still choose to file a civil lawsuit against the abuser in order to get money for medical bills, living expenses, or other things. The main difference between a civil suit and criminal charges is that a civil suit seeks compensation for harm done and there will not be any time to serve behind bars; whereas, criminal charges can, and often do, carry a sentence behind bars. Another thing to consider is that a civil suit is much easier to prove and win.

When Victims Change Their Statements

Despite the fact that it is the prosecutor’s office and not the victim who decides whether to drop domestic violence charges or not, victims very often choose to change their statements; in fact, according to some statistics, up to 90% of domestic violence victims do this. Choosing to change a statement that was made to police officers is not a good idea, but recanting the whole story is even worse, and some victims choose to do this as well. The thing about recanting is that the victim is, in a certain way, telling the police that he or she lied and that can lead to criminal charges.

Should You Hire a Lawyer?

If your spouse or partner has been charged with domestic violence but you have decided that you do not want him or her to be criminally prosecuted the best thing that you can do is to contact a criminal lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced criminal law attorney will know what strategy to pursue in order to get the case dismissed from court or at the very least downgraded as much as possible.