If you've been accused of domestic violence, you could face criminal prosecution and a lifetime of consequences from a criminal conviction. But whether you are guilty or not, it's important to understand that what you do and say during this time can affect the outcome of your case. You should be proactive by talking to an attorney and discussing your case. And you should avoid—as best you can—the following:
Contacting the Victim
Whether the alleged victim went to the police or not, he or she has all the power right now. Very often, all the victim has to do is report a domestic violence incident to the authorities to set the wheels in motion. After this, you could quickly be arrested and charged with domestic violence. Due to the volatility of your relationship, steer clear of the alleged victim until you speak with an attorney and figure things out. If the police become involved, they will make sure you two are separated to give you time to cool down.
Your conduct during this time can be scrutinized. Watch what you do and whom you talk to. Don't initiate any further contact, and keep a respectful distance. If the victim has already called the police, you have an even more compelling reason to keep to yourself as you could be facing criminal charges and a protective order. The victim can obtain an Ex-Parte protective order in your absence. This means the judge can issue a protective order restraining you even without you being present at the hearing. Don't return home until you know you are in the clear. Even if the victim tries to contact you, you would suffer the consequences of violating the protective order.
Also, you should know that once charges have been filed, the victim couldn't ask the court to “drop” them. This means no matter what the victim wants or decides you will still be criminally prosecuted. The State of California even has special prosecution units to handle domestic violence cases. These units even deploy people to talk to alleged victims to ensure they testify in court. The system is designed to circumvent the victim, so the case is between the defendant and the State, not the abuser and the victim.
Wait Until It “Blows Over”
Don't just wait until things cool down to go back to your normal life. Take all accusations of domestic violence seriously, even if they are false. If the police and the prosecuting attorney take them seriously, you should take them seriously too. Don't waste this time either. Gather evidence that could help you fight DV charges. For example, take pictures of your injuries that could support a claim of self-defense. Signs of struggle can fade quickly. Talk to potential witnesses. Speak with an attorney about what else you can do to help your case. Reach out to friends and family to tell them your story. Friends and family tend to turn against the alleged abuser when the victim speaks up. Also, learn about the consequences of a domestic violence conviction. For example, you could lose your gun rights, pay steep fines, go to jail, and even face immigration consequences.
Tell Your Side of the Story
Your side of the story does matter, but you have to be careful whom you share it with. If at all possible, only share your story with a criminal defense attorney. But don't hide anything from your attorney. Tell him or her everything that happened, including the history of your relationship with the victim. The more your attorney knows, the better he or she can plan a defense.
If DV charges are pending you have to watch every step. An experienced California domestic violence defense attorney can listen to the facts and circumstances of your case and advise you on exactly what you need to do to fight your charges and clear your name.
Being arrested for domestic violence is stressful, but experienced Visalia area domestic violence defense attorney Christopher Martens can help you face your charges. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you navigate the criminal prosecution process from start to finish and are not afraid to take your case all the way to trial. Martens has practiced criminal defense for over ten years and knows how to defend your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.