You were recently charged with domestic assault or another charge related to domestic violence. Chances are that your mind is filled with questions – especially when it comes to how your case will play out in court. Before you become overwhelmed by an endless maze of “What If?” questions, here are several key points that you must remember:
The Purpose of the Domestic Violence Hearing
The domestic violence hearing is typically the first stage of the judicial response to this type of charge. The judge assigned to your case will primarily focus on two key factors: the evidence and the victim. Is there enough evidence presented that will support a protective order that favors the victim? The answer to that question will help the judge to determine if the alleged assailant should be allowed to have any contact with the victim and (if applicable) their children.
Understand Your State’s Definition of Domestic Violence
How is “domestic violence” defined in your state? A common mistake is to assume that domestic violence only applies to physical violence. However, the definition of domestic violence according to your state may paint a different picture – one that could drastically change the way you view your chances.
For example, in Arizona, the scope of domestic violence covers much more than just physical and sexual violence. It also covers emotional abuse, neglect and economic control. You do not even need to be physically near the alleged victim. Such acts as harassing phone calls, recording them without consent, threatening conversations, or even criminal trespassing can fit within this category as well.
The Victim May Not Be Able to Dismiss the Case
Another common misperception is that all you must do is get the victim to drop the charges to make everything “go away.” First-time offenders may avoid seeking legal representation, because they believe that the victim can have a change of heart and “pull the plug” on the entire case. Once again, this goes back to how your state handles domestic violence cases.
An average of 1,200 people become victims of physical abuse by an intimate partner in the U.S. every hour, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). Therefore, it is not surprising that most states take the prosecution of these cases seriously – with or without the continued support of the victim. In most cases, the district attorney is the only one with the authority of drop a domestic assault case. Even if the victim refuses to testify, the State is still able to aggressively prosecute a case.
Mandatory Counseling is Just One of the Potential Results
It is true that mandatory counseling is a typical result of most domestic assault cases even when the assailant is not sentenced to serve any jail time. However, depending on the nature of the crime and the defendant’s criminal history, it can still be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. It could also lead to restraining/protection orders, custody losses, civil lawsuits, and more. To say that a single charge of domestic assault can change a person’s life forever, therefore, is a major understatement.
Take Your Legal Representation Seriously
It is never wise to face a courtroom battle or any major criminal charge without retaining legal representation. A significant number of people fall into the trap of believing that they have an “open-shut” case that will end in their favor – which is why they feel as if they are saving a lot of money by not retaining a criminal defense attorney to handle their case. As referenced above, by going into the legal proceedings associated with this type of charge without an expert attorney at your side, money is not the only thing you risk losing.
Liz S. Coyle is the Director of Client Services for JacksonWhite Attorneys at Law. She also serves as a paralegal for the Family Law Department. She is responsible for internal and external communications for the firm.
Although the specifics vary from state to state, assault and battery laws typically involve the same charges and acts. When someone engages in assault and battery, they usually either try to hit or strike someone or they threaten another person to cause fear of harm in order to get that person to behave in a particular manner. There are different types of assault and battery charges based on the severity of the behavior. The most egregious behaviors are typically classified as “aggravated” assault and battery, because they pose more potentially dangerous and serious consequences to the victim.
An aggravated assault charge involves a situation when someone tries to severely injure another individual, or they use a deadly weapon to threaten or actually harm someone. The charge of assault and battery is generally used when there is a fight or some type of altercation that involves two or more people. There are some legal constructs, however, that will involve those who just use the threat of violence without following through in order to coerce someone else. The following are the definitions related to assault and battery laws.
Although the details differ from state to state, assault is essentially defined as the attempt to injure or harm someone. It can involve either physical action or intimidating behaviors against someone else. Another form of assault is “attempted battery,” which is when someone uses force through making threats that cause someone believe that if they don’t comply, they are in jeopardy of harm. The difference between an actual battery and when someone assaults you is whether or not someone makes physical contact. If someone is just offensive, then it is usually not battery; it is just defined as assault.
The requirements for labeling an assault
If you want to convict someone of assault, there needs to be some sort of “criminal act” that took place. The type of actions that would constitute an assault can vary widely in definition based on location, but it typically means that someone directly or overtly acts against someone in a way that would reasonably be interpreted as attempting to cause fear. The theory of reasonability means that if anyone else were under the same conditions, they would likewise feel threatened and fearful.
The intent requirement
To prove that someone perpetrated assault and battery you have to be able to prove that they intentionally either meant to actually harm or threatened to harm you. If it is just a perception that you have, then they likely can’t be charged with assault and battery. For someone to face assault and battery charges, you have to prove that they had the intent of causing harm or of threatening you.
For a battery charge there needs to be an act
For someone to be charged with assault and battery, there needs to be an actual act of battery or harm. It isn’t enough for someone to threaten you or to make you fearful. Battery involves someone overtly acting in a way designed to harm you. There needs to be a physical altercation of some sort that goes beyond just threats or intimidation. To have someone charged with assault and battery the components that need to be in place are that you felt fear and that the other person harmed you physically. If you can’t prove both components, then the other person is not likely to be charged with assault and battery.
If you have been charged with assault and battery, there are many things that need to be proven. It isn’t enough to make someone feel threatened or intimidated; to be charged with assault and battery, there needs to be a physical action that not just intimidates but harms another individual. To minimize any potential fallout that can come from being found guilty of assault and battery, and to prove your innocence in court, it is essential that you hire an assault attorney in Queens to plead your case. They will work either to have the charges thrown out or to plea bargain for a lesser charge. Since most assault and battery cases have an underlying reason, make sure to protect yourself from the consequences of being found guilty.