What Difference Can It Make In A Domestic Violence Case When Your Firm Is Brought In Early To Help?
The early involvement of a criminal defense lawyer is important in every criminal matter. Domestic Violence allegations make the need for an experienced attorney a matter of even greater urgency.
Domestic violence cases are inherently based on “He said, she said” claims. These matters begin when police are called, and law enforcement makes assessments of the situation based on the claims of each person involved. Frequently, both people in the dispute are pointing their fingers, and each person is denying any wrongdoing.
After making whatever investigation can be conducted under the circumstances, law enforcement will then turn their findings over to a prosecutor who will make the decision of whether or not to press charges. Because law enforcement nearly always makes an arrest in these matters, almost every time a Domestic Violence complaint is issued someone is taken into custody.
There are three main phases in the early stages of a Domestic Case in which an attorney’s presence can be pivotal to achieving a good outcome and preventing further damage.
Phase One – Arrest And Questioning
Immediately involving a lawyer at the time of an arrest (or, if possible, at the time of the 911 call) is important because it halts the avalanche of the Domestic Violence investigation, and prevents it from snowballing out of control against the accused.
This snowball of events can begin as soon as the arrested person is taken into custody and questioned by law enforcement. Very often, a person arrested for Domestic Violence will be told by officers that this questioning is an opportunity for them to tell their side of the story. While it is important for the prosecution to have a complete picture of the events that lead to the arrest, it is very dangerous to consent to questioning or provide statements without legal counsel and representation.
This, in large part, is because questioning police officers are not truly interested in “your side of the story.” Instead, they are usually looking to find incriminating evidence, admissions to important facts, and even outright confessions.
While you may attempt to explain that you were acting in self-defense, or that you were provoked and your partner was the aggressor, you may unknowingly admit to something that will be used against you. All of the facts that form the basic elements of a Domestic Violence conviction will be asked by the interrogating police officer, and any potential admissions by the suspect can make the police and prosecutor’s job of ensuring a conviction that much easier.
The involvement of a criminal defense lawyer during the arrest and interrogation process provides the client with a legal advisor who can act as a buffer between you and the officer investigating the case. Equally important, it gives you the resources of a legal expert who can advise you on what statements you can safely give to the police (if any), and whether or not you can say anything that will help you.
There are times in which giving a detailed statement to the police could be helpful to shine a light on the circumstances of your case. There are also instances in which an effort to represent your side of the situation only serves to dig a deeper hole.
This is especially important to consider because the process of being arrested only adds to the intensity of whatever dispute was the cause of concern. Very often, people who have been accused of Domestic Violence crimes are too passionately and emotionally involved in the situation to make a level-headed decision. Regardless of your emotional state, it’s invaluable to have a criminal defense lawyer help you with these decisions.
Phase Two – Arraignment Hearings
Typically, within a day or two following an arrest, the suspect will be arraigned before a judge or a magistrate.
At an arraignment, your Criminal Defense attorney will be able to argue for a lower bond, address bond conditions such as: whether or not you can travel; whether or not you can go home; whether or not you can see your partner; whether or not you would have the ability to see your kids; and more These are all standard bond conditions that are attached to nearly every Domestic Violence accusation. Trying to negotiate these conditions on your own leaves you legally defenseless and prone to harsher results.
Phase 3 – Building A Defense
The early involvement of a defense lawyer becomes incredibly important when you begin to build a defense for the accusations levied against you.
It is important to start the work of forming the basis for your defense and the strategies you will use as soon as possible. There are so many ways in which a criminal defense lawyer’s involvement can be helpful to this pursuit.
The first stage of building a defense is to gather evidence. This evidence will be used to support your argument and verify each aspect of your version of events. Evidence may include: eyewitness statements; corroborative evidence such as text messaging and social media posts; squad car or bodycam footage from the arresting police officers; and more.
All of these pieces of evidence tend to have incredibly short time deadlines for collection. Most police agencies keep squad cars and bodycam footage for no more than thirty days. Most cell phone providers only keep text messages for a short period of time. Social media posts can disappear or be taken down. Witnesses’ memories fade and their availability becomes more difficult to secure. What’s more, people often become less willing to be involved the longer you wait to contact them.
A defense lawyer that is invaluable in the pursuit of identifying what kinds of evidence can be used and the means by which it may be collected. Involving an attorney as early as possible is an important step in ensuring that all available evidence is documented before it disappears. Additionally, attorneys are skilled legal professionals who will be able to bring all of these pieces together to form a solid foundation for your case.
For more information on Involving A Criminal Defense Attorney In A DV Case, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (248) 509-0056 today.