If the police respond to your home for a domestic issue, most likely they will take someone away in handcuffs. Increased public awareness and legislation surrounding domestic violence have protected many victims from what used to be trivialized as “a private family matter”, but have also resulted in countless arrests of innocent, law-abiding citizens.
Hasty arrests make for weak cases. The police prefer to arrest and prosecute in response to domestic incident calls, as directed by the Massachusetts Domestic Violence Law Enforcement Guidelines. These arrests follow an on-scene “investigation” usually amounting to little if anything more than asking everyone within earshot what they heard and what they know of the involved parties. I will conduct an investigation to find witnesses and evidence that the police did not bother to discover.
As a former domestic violence prosecutor, I know all too well the pressure on prosecutors to prove domestic violence cases. A lenient resolution or dismissal of your case will require convincing prosecutors that they cannot prove the case and that it is in the interest of justice not to go forward. I can be reached at (978) 704-9223 to advise you immediately following your arrest, and I will appear in court on short notice whenever possible.
If you are arrested for domestic violence:
- Exercise your right to remain silent. The police and prosecutors will interpret anything you do or say as evidence that you are a “dominant aggressor” (language used in the Domestic Violence Law Enforcement Guidelines). Any apologies you make will be used against you.
- Contact an experienced domestic violence attorney to protect your rights and conduct an investigation to support your innocence. While your memory is fresh, confirm with your attorney the statements that you and the witnesses made to the police. Most likely, the police report contains incorrect statements or omits statements helpful to your defense. Knowing the accurate statements will allow your attorney to negotiate with prosecutors and prepare your trial defense.
- The Commonwealth will not drop the charges against you based on the alleged victim’s wishes. Only the District Attorney’s Office has the authority to drop the charges. Often the prosecutors consider the alleged victim’s refusal to testify to be more evidence of abuse. As a former domestic violence prosecutor, I know what information to provide to prosecutors and how to navigate the process in order to achieve the best results.
- Consider filing an application for a criminal complaint. If the alleged victim committed a battery or other crime against you, your defense attorney should assist you in filing an application for a criminal complaint. When mutual cases are pending, both cases become substantially more difficult for the Commonwealth to prove. Do not file the application without the advice and assistance of your defense attorney. You will need to commit to a statement of what occurred, which can be used to cross-examine you if you choose to testify in your defense.
- Do not contact the alleged victim! This could be considered Intimidating a Witness, which is a felony and could result in your detention without bail.
- Beware batterers’ intervention programs. It may sound like a great idea to enter therapy to show that you are taking the charges against you seriously. Your good intentions could backfire, providing the government with more evidence against you. The fact that you entered such a program at all can be used as an admission of your guilt. Also, these programs almost always require you to confess guilt for the incident resulting in your arrest. This confession can be used against you in court. If you refuse to confess, you will be kicked out of the program for noncompliance, which also hurts your case.
Domestic violence charges can easily result in jail time. I have extensive experience handling domestic violence cases from both sides of the courtroom. If you have been arrested for domestic violence, call (978) 704-9223 or email Lance Law LLC to schedule a consultation.