Understanding Domestic Violence Arrests and Prosecutions

What happens after you have been charged with domestic violence?
You and your wife have not been getting along lately and you’re beginning to question your relationship.

This evening the two of you went to a party and consumed alcohol. Upon returning home, the arguing started, but this time it became physical.

Someone called the police and you were arrested for Domestic Violence and taken to jail.

Your wife bails you out, but what’s going to happen to you next? What is the District Attorney going to do?

1) They look at photographs

Obtaining photographs increases the likelihood of prosecution by 58 to 62 percent. Photos show the appearance of suspects and victims when police arrived, which may differ from how they look in court. Pictures also illustrate the individual’s emotional state and whether they were intoxicated.

Pictures of broken items, such as cell phones that have been thrown or smashed and furniture that has been overturned; and the layout and condition of the scene. Photographs may record things that an officer fails to describe in the written report.

2) They look for independent witnesses

The likelihood of prosecution improves by between 66 and 70 percent when an officer lists more than one witness on a domestic violence report. It is difficult to determine who is telling the truth when the defendant and victim are the only individuals interviewed.

Witnesses can indicate which party is more truthful or provide missing information or evidence that suspects or victims may withhold – such as a car scratched with a key by an angry partner. Children may describe other domestic violence incidents.

3) They consider protective orders

Obtaining an emergency protective order (EPO) can increase the likelihood of prosecution by 85 to 89 percent and conviction rates by 100 percent. The method and form used for seeking a protective order differs by state. EPOs may influence prosecution and conviction because of the trend they set.

Even before an officer’s written report reaches the reviewing prosecutor, the case has been reviewed by a judge who concluded that sufficient facts exist to warrant a protective order. This may encourage the prosecutor to file cases that might otherwise be rejected.

4) They consider arrests at the scene

A 92 to 96 percent increase in the likelihood of prosecution and a 76 to 80 percent rise in conviction rates result from the arrest of a domestic violence suspect. Case-filing rates double when a suspect is arrested.

5) They consider whether the defendant was charged with multiple crimes

When a police officer’s report indicates that more than one crime occurred, the prosecution likelihood improves by between 260 and 300 percent, while the conviction likelihood grows by 140 to 150 percent. Eighty percent of domestic violence cases are filed as misdemeanors and between 93 and 98 percent of all criminal cases are resolved through a plea bargain.

Like all criminal matters, not all allegations of Domestic Violence are true or exactly as stated. A Defendant should consider hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney to act as their advocate in court and with the District Attorney.

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