When you face the prospect of criminal charges for a domestic violence incident, it can seem nearly impossible to find a way out. In many cases involving an intimate partner, there may be no one willing to advocate on behalf of the defendant, and even when there is, there’s usually little trust that anything will change as a result of legal intervention. There may be valid reasons for apprehension – as in any situation involving criminal charges, the deck is often stacked against the defendant. Domestic violence laws are unique in that they tend to have very few exceptions or stipulations regarding who qualifies as a victim or perpetrator. Even if your case is not as black-and-white as it appears at first glance, however, there are still ways to reduce or eliminate the potential penalties associated with an arrest for domestic violence charges.
Can charges be dropped for domestic violence?
In many cases involving an intimate partner, there may be no one willing to advocate on behalf of the defendant, and even when there is, there’s usually little trust that anything will change as a result of legal intervention. There may be valid reasons for apprehension – as in any situation involving criminal charges, the deck is often stacked against the defendant. Domestic violence laws are unique in that they tend to have very few exceptions or stipulations regarding who qualifies as a victim or perpetrator.
Here Are Some Tips On How To Lessen The Potential Impact Of Domestic Violence Charges:
1) Understand what you’re facing:
The first step in dealing with a domestic violence charge is understanding exactly what you’re facing. If you’ve recently been arrested for domestic violence (or if you already know that your case involves allegations of abuse), take some time now to review your rights and consider whether or not you wish to hire an attorney. You may wish to consult with a family law attorney about whether you qualify for a deferred prosecution agreement or other alternative sentencing options available under law; alternatively, consider hiring an attorney only if your case does not involve allegations of abuse or other serious offenses. If you’re already represented by counsel and do not wish to retain another attorney at this time, it is still important to review the potential consequences of your case, as well as the potential defenses available to you.
2) Consider plea bargaining:
Many domestic violence charges are not considered felonies or even misdemeanors, but rather violations of civil law; in many cases, a defendant may be able to reach an agreement with prosecutors and avoid jail time entirely. If you are facing criminal charges for domestic violence, it is important to understand exactly what kind of sentence you could receive if convicted – this information can help you decide whether or not a plea bargain is worth pursuing. It should be noted that many states have different laws for misdemeanor and felony domestic violence charges, so it is important to speak with an experienced family law attorney if possible.
3) Consider an alternative sentence:
It is not uncommon for defendants in domestic violence cases to avoid jail time altogether by entering into a diversion agreement or other alternative sentencing program. Some states offer diversion programs that allow defendants who have no prior criminal history to avoid jail time entirely; others offer defendants the option of completing community service or other less-serious alternatives in exchange for community service hours (or other non-custodial sentences). For example, under Florida law, if a person charged with misdemeanor domestic battery pleads guilty and completes a year’s worth of community service, he or she will avoid any jail time whatsoever. In some states, defendants can also qualify for probation instead of any incarceration at all; probation generally involves performing some sort of community service or another non-custodial sentence in exchange for a clean criminal record.
4) Consider a diversion program:
Some states have already implemented their own domestic violence diversion programs, often referred to as “no-contact orders” or “no-harassment” orders. These programs typically involve the defendant and the alleged victim agreeing to avoid any contact with one another for a certain period of time and/or to refrain from harassing one another, providing evidence that they genuinely intend to comply with the terms of their agreement. If you are facing domestic violence charges, it can be a good idea to consider whether such a program might be appropriate for your case.
5) Consider hiring an attorney:
If you are already represented by counsel and do not wish to retain another attorney at this time, it is still important to review the potential consequences of your case, as well as the potential defenses available to you. If you believe that your family law attorney was ineffective in representing you during your initial consultation, this may be an opportunity for you to gain additional representation at no cost or a significant expense; even if you were represented by an experienced family law attorney who did not handle your initial consultation well (for example, if he or she failed to take proper notes and failed properly evaluate witnesses), it is still possible that some new representation might help improve your outcome.
What Is Considered Domestic Violence?
First-time domestic violence charges
If you are facing your first set of charges for domestic violence, the best strategy you can take is to remain silent and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. As discussed, the laws surrounding domestic violence are designed to punish offenders harshly, and prosecutors are often eager to use those laws to their advantage. First-time offenders who are charged with domestic violence will likely be offered a plea bargain for deferred sentencing and a no-contact order with the victim. This means that the judge will put off sentencing for a set amount of time and will issue an order for the defendant to have no contact with the victim. Violating a no-contact order is grounds for an automatic violation of probation and additional criminal charges.
Dropping the charge to a non-domestic violence-related offense
If you are confident that you are being wrongly charged, or that you have a strong defense against the accusations against you, it may be worth defending yourself against the charges and hoping that the prosecution is not able to prove their case. If you are able to prove that you did not commit the crime of which you are accused, or that you are not guilty of the charges against you, the charges will be dropped entirely. Because the law surrounding domestic violence charges is so inflexible, it is fairly common for an overzealous prosecutor to charge a defendant with an offense that may not even apply to the circumstances at hand. In this situation, the defendant can request that the charges be reduced to a lesser offense.
Deferred sentence and probation
If a criminal defense lawyer is able to negotiate a deferred sentence with the prosecution, the charges will be dismissed after a specified period of time passes. This means that the charges will be dropped if the defendant completes probation successfully, but it also means that there will be no criminal record. Defensive attorneys can also negotiate for the client to be placed on probation instead of serving out a sentence. This can be helpful for defendants who need to maintain their employment but may be put at risk if they are forced to miss a significant amount of time due to jail time. Deferred sentencing or probation can also be extremely beneficial for battered women who have been charged with domestic violence against their abusive partners. Because most states have strong domestic violence laws that require the defendant to serve a minimum amount of time in prison, it can be extremely difficult for abused women to defend themselves against the charges.
If you are charged with a domestic violence crime, your criminal defense lawyer will work to negotiate a dismissal of the charges. Dismissal is when the charges are dropped entirely and erased from your record. Because domestic violence charges tend to be quite serious, it can be difficult to convince the prosecutor to dismiss the charges. Your attorney will have to consider various factors including the strength of the case, the amount of time the case has been pending, and the prosecutor’s caseload. A dismissal of charges is not only beneficial to the defendant, but also to the state. A dismissed case is one that the state can no longer pursue, which means that the prosecutor’s caseload will be reduced. If your attorney is able to negotiate a dismissal, you can be confident that the charges will be dropped and you will not have a criminal record.
If you’re facing domestic violence charges, you should be aware that law enforcement and prosecutors take these cases very seriously. You may be at risk for significant penalties such as jail time and a criminal record if you are convicted of these charges. However, you are entitled to due process, and there are ways to minimize the impact of these charges on your life. The most important thing for you to do is to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your options and minimize the potential consequences of these charges.
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