In a criminal domestic violence or criminal domestic abuse case, it is important for everyone involved to know that once the police are called, the complaining party does not have the ability to “not press charges”, as is often thought by the general public, or as we see in the movies or on television. The criminal courts do not deal with individual parties sueing each other. Civil courts allow parties to “not sue”. John may decide not to sue Sally, and can “drop the charges”, but only in civil court. A police investigation leading to a criminal arrest results in “The People of (California or the U.S.)” vs. the defendant, and the parties in criminal court are the person arrested (the defendant) while the plaintiff is “The People”. The “victim” is simply that – a witness and/or victim. The city attorney or district attorney is the only party that has control over “not pressing charges”, not the victim or complaining witness. So when a victim to a crime decides later on “not to press charges”, telling the police or prosecutors that they don’t want to press charges does not cause the case to be dismissed. Therefore, it is important that a competent criminal defense attorney be contacted immediately in order to adequately begin investigating the circumstances and acting proactively, rather than reactively.
Domestic violence (domestic abuse) charges can often be the most disruptive, emotionally difficult charges to fight. It can result in marital counseling, anger management or alcohol classes, restraining orders and stay away orders, often times when the parties themselves don’t even want such orders in place. It can affect your personal and professional life to no end, especially if you are faced with incarceration in a county jail or state penitentiary.
What many defense attorneys don’t know is that the charge is not necessarily what dictates the punishment in these cases, as opposed to the underlying relationship between you and the complaining witness. The charges can vary, for instance, from: domestic violence, assault, battery, violation of a protective order, disturbing the peace, assault with a deadly weapon, criminal threats (terrorist threats), or burglary. You could still be facing severe penalties regardless of the charge. Additionally, almost all of these charges can be filed as felonies or misdemeanors, creating the possibility of the defendant being sent to either county jail or state prison.
A conviction for any of the above charges, in a domestic relationship or intimate relationship between the defendant and victim, may still require you to perform certain mandatory counseling and minimum fines, because your relationship dictates the punishment by law. Therefore, contacting a lawyer who knows these potential consequences is crucial!
Our goal is to evaluate your case and prepare your defense as quickly as possible. This will assist us to begin negotiating right away with the police or prosecutors, in order to minimize the disruption to your life. Knowing who to contact is just as important as what to say. As a former prosecutor, we know how to handle both issues.
We also know how to approach negotiations in creative ways. Often times, these cases can be handled informally, without criminal charges being brought. However, in the event you are charged, there are many other ways to negotiate a quick, quiet settlement.
Many times, however, settlement is not an option. We are fully prepared and experienced at taking these cases to trial. We will work with you to fight these charges to the greatest extent, putting the prosecutors to their burden – proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt. We will build you the strongest defense possible, and will evaluate the evidence against you, always with an eye towards presenting our case to the court or jury and putting the prosecutors to their burden.
When emotions are running high, you need an attorney who knows how to keep everyone calm and collected, while vigorously representing and protecting your legal interests.
You have rights. You should exercise those rights. And the only way to do so is to hire a criminal defense attorney who handles these cases properly.
Do not talk to police. Do not provide statements, even if you think they are statements that declare your innocence – they will only be twisted and used against you. First, consult with a lawyer.
Do not consent to a search of your person/residence/vehicle. Demand a search warrant.
Ask for your lawyer. These are your constitutional rights – exercise them!