If you’ve been arrested for domestic violence then you know how it can turn your world upside down. The charges have lasting effects and serious consequences. These consequences can include jail time, job loss, and even custody of your children. The best thing you can do is hire an attorney experienced in domestic violence law.
In this article, we’re going to teach you some general information about domestic violence law. This information will help when you meet with a domestic violence lawyer at an initial consultation. We’re also going to explain different ways that a domestic violence lawyer might be able to help your situation. Finally, at the end of the article, we link to our guide which lays out the specific steps to take on how to get a lawyer.
General Information On Domestic Violence Law
Before we proceed, you need to know that the information in this section is only general information about domestic violence law. It is not legal advice and it is not even specific advice. Instead, it is general information to help you prepare for a consultation with a domestic violence lawyer. At the consultation, the lawyer can give you
Domestic Violence Facts
Here are some general facts about domestic violence to better prepare yourself when you meet your attorney.
Domestic Violence Occurs In and Around the Home
It is generally understood that domestic violence refers to prohibited actions in and around the home. If the same actions occur outside the home, they usually aren’t domestic violence but still may be crimes.
Domestic Violence Has Serious Consequences
The punishments for domestic violence are severe.
- Having to leave home
- Severe fines and fees
- Job loss
- Increased alimony and child support amounts
Domestic Violence Laws are State Specific
Each state has its own definition of domestic violence. You should ask your attorney what the specific laws are in your state. Here are some of the ways that domestic violence can change in different states:
- Definition of domestic violence
- Effects upon child custody
- Whether the offender is kicked out of their home or ordered to stay away
- Restitution amounts
- Existence of catchall provisions allowing a court to do anything in their power to bring about the cessation of the domestic violence
- Burden of proof needed (beyond a reasonable doubt, clear and convincing evidence, or preponderance of the evidence)
How a Domestic Violence Attorney Can Help
There are quite a few ways a lawyer can help in a domestic violence situation. The most obvious ways are in gathering evidence, formulating the best defense, defending the accused in court, and negotiating with the prosecutor. Here are some other essential but less obvious ways a lawyer can help:
Help the District Attorney Drop the Case or Reduce the Charges
The decision to press charges is not up to the alleged victim but the district attorney. In certain situations, a lawyer might be able to help convince the district attorney to reduce the charges, or even drop the case altogether.
The first thing an attorney can do is help smooth out the facts. When the police took statements from the accused and victim, it was right after the heat of the moment. Emotions were sky high and that can lead to exaggerated statements. The attorney can help explain this to the district attorney and possibly reduce the chance of charges being brought.
The next thing that helps is if both the accused and victim sign up for counseling before anyone speaks to the district attorney. This shows the district attorney that they are both trying to work it out and can help the prosecutor consider dropping your case. However, this depends a good deal on whether the accused has a past record.
The final way an attorney can help is by speaking to the district attorney before and during the trial. The attorney can act as a neutral third party in helping convince the district attorney to lessen the charges or drop the case.
Establish a Self Defense Claim
Arguing that something was not domestic violence but instead self-defense is one of the most common defenses in domestic violence cases. An attorney can help you in making this defense at court. It involves proving that your action was not domestic violence but was justified because you were acting in self-defense.
Establish Your Credibility
Evidence from recordings and witnesses is often rare in domestic violence cases. The case usually turns into he said she said and guilt or innocence often depends on who the court finds more credible. An attorney can help you establish credibility better than you could on your own.
Argue the Action was De Minimis
In the right circumstances, a lawyer can help argue that the alleged domestic violence was so trivial that it wasn’t domestic violence.
Fight Against a Temporary Restraining Order
Another thing a lawyer can do is help you fight against a temporary restraining order (TRO). A TRO is something a court might issue to prevent you from having contact with certain people such as the alleged victim. But it can also have unintended consequences such as preventing you from returning home and even from seeing your children.
Ensure Competency to Testify
Some people are not allowed to testify at trial. Your lawyer can make sure that the prosecution is following all the rules. Issues can arise in various contexts, such as spousal privilege and also child testimony.
In regards to child testimony, competency issues play a large factor. Before a child can testify, several requirements must be met and these usually vary by state. If the requirements are not met, then the child cannot testify. Again, consult with your domestic violence lawyer and they can give you specific legal advice about this issue.
How To Get A Domestic Violence Lawyer
If you’ve come this far, then you should have enough general information about domestic violence law to assist a lawyer in advising you about your specific situation. Also, you should have a general idea about how a domestic violence lawyer can help your situation.
But before you start searching for a local domestic violence lawyer, there is one more step you should take. We highly recommend reading our guide about how to get a lawyer. In the guide, you will learn many things about how to get a lawyer. Here is an example of what you will learn:
- How to find a lawyer experienced with domestic violence law.
- How to research the lawyer’s background.
- Questions to ask before an initial consultation.
- Questions to ask during an initial consultation.
- Observations to record about the lawyer
- How to decide whether to hire
the domesticviolence lawyer.
Once you read this guide, you should be prepared to hire a lawyer to help with your domestic violence needs.