A common misconception in domestic violence cases is that police can be called to calm down a physical altercation and leave the premises without arresting anyone involved. Unfortunately, that is not a reality. When police respond to a call regarding domestic abuse, they are usually commanded by agency policy to make an arrest. In most situations, the person who calls police first is the person who gets to sleep in their own bed that night.
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It is important to know that in domestic violence cases, a person arrested following a domestic disturbance has to stay in jail until he or she is able to appear in court. No bond or other conditions of release will be allowed prior to this first appearance. One reason for this is to ensure the safety of the alleged victim who was left at the home, and to protect them from any harm they may suffer as a result of calling law enforcement. Another reason for requiring an appearance in court is so the defendant may be advised that he or she is not to have any contact with the alleged victim while the case is pending. This “no contact” order must be taken seriously and applies even if the alleged victim is the one attempting to make contact—any contact, regardless of who initiated it, will violate the court’s order and result in the defendant being taken to jail immediately.
Another misconception in these cases is that the alleged victim dictates how the case is prosecuted. Our office is often contacted by alleged victims who express frustration and are seeking legal advice after their requests that the case be dismissed are denied by the prosecutor. Though a victim has input in each case, the decision as to who and how each case is prosecuted is left to the sole discretion of the State Attorney’s Office. It is not as simple as the victim calling the prosecutor and asking that the case be dismissed. Under such circumstances, prosecutors have been known to compel the victim to be a witness at trial or simply rely on third-party eyewitness testimony. Put another way, a case may be prosecuted without a cooperating victim. As such, it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney with experience in these cases to make sure a bad situation does not become worse. Each case must also be handled with an eye toward the impact a particular resolution will have on the future relationship between the people involved.
If you have been arrested as a result of a domestic disturbance, it is important to contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to represent your interests, even if the alleged victim is not seeking to have the case prosecuted. Call the Law Offices of John M. Phillips for a free consultation.