Domestic Violence Criminal Defense

In 1993, the domestic assault rate was 5.3 victims per 1,000 people. By 2002, that rate had fallen to 2.1 victims per 1,000 people. And the rate is still falling. [1] Nevertheless, more than one in ten assault cases involve domestic violence. Moreover, domestic battery convictions have severe direct and collateral consequences. It’s imperative when you face domestic violence charges that you look for a reputable criminal defense attorney.

There is a big difference between an arrest and a conviction, especially in this context. Most Rochester-area law enforcement agencies have mandatory arrest policies. If officers respond to a disturbance call, someone goes to jail. In almost 80 percent of these cases, that “someone” is a man. But there is no mandatory conviction policy. Instead, Monroe County prosecutors must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

So, although domestic battery charges are serious, some effective defenses are available. As a result, a domestic violence criminal defense lawyer can often successfully resolve these charges. That resolution could be a complete dismissal of charges, a plea to a lesser included offense, like reckless conduct, or a not-guilty verdict at trial.

Lack of Evidence

Contrary to the popular myth, physical injury is not an element of ordinary battery or domestic battery. Instead, prosecutors must only show an intentional, as in not accidental, touch. That could be grabbing someone’s arm or poking someone’s shoulder.

That being said, it is much easier to prove an intentional touch if the alleged victim at least required first aid. If that’s not the case, it is easier for a domestic violence criminal defense lawyer to argue that the touch was accidental successfully.

Additionally, police officers rarely witness domestic violence first hand. So, prosecutors typically rely on civilian witnesses, mostly alleged victims, to make their cases in court. Unlike police officers, alleged victims are not professional witnesses. Therefore, a domestic violence criminal defense lawyer can often shake the alleged victim’s testimony enough to create reasonable doubt.

On a related note, alleged victims cannot “drop” criminal cases. Only prosecutors have that power. If alleged victims refuse to cooperate, prosecutors can subpoena them and force them to testify.

Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Lawyers and Self-Defense

Because of the high burden of proof, a lack of evidence is often the best defense in a criminal case. Frequently, affirmative defenses, like self-defense, are available as well.

Essentially, the defendant must prove that the use of force was reasonably necessary. Additionally, the use of force must be proportional. Let’s look at these elements individually.

A reasonable belief means that most jurors would have done the same thing if they were in the defendant’s shoes. If Bill lunges at Ted, it’s reasonable for Ted to raise his arms and defend himself. Even if Bill is seriously injured, that does not change the fact that Ted’s reaction was reasonable.

Proportionality sometimes comes into play as well. If the alleged victim was yelling at the defendant, the use of physical force is not proportionate to the threat, no matter what the alleged victim was saying.

Contact an Assertive Attorney

Several valid defenses are available to domestic battery charges. For a free consultation with an experienced Rochester domestic violence criminal defense lawyer, contact the Law Office of Frank Ciardi. Convenient payment plans are available.

 

Sources:

[1] https://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/fvs02.pdf

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