Three Steps to Take If You’re Charged With Domestic Violence
In the blink of an eye, an intense argument with your spouse or significant other, or a phone call they make accusing you of threats or violence can end with you in the back of a police car arrested and charged with domestic violence. It can be a sudden, shocking, and traumatic experience, especially if you know that the allegations are false as they often are.
The impact of a domestic violence charge is immediate, with limitations on your rights and a strain on your relationships and reputation. The long-term consequences are even more daunting, as a conviction could put you behind bars and forever change your role as a spouse and parent, and cost you career, educational, and other opportunities for years to come.
Given all of this and despite the fear, confusion, and other emotions you may be feeling, you need to be as smart and rational as you can. You need to think clearly and urgently take some crucial steps to protect yourself to increase the likelihood of a positive conclusion to this awful ordeal.
If police arrest and charge you with domestic violence in Johnson County, make sure you do these three crucial things:
- Call a domestic violence defense lawyer immediately. Too many people charged with domestic violence make the mistake of believing that if they can just get the accuser to “drop the charges,” everything will be okay. The reality is that prosecutors can and will seek your conviction regardless of what the victim wants. You may be able to smooth things over with your spouse or significant other, but you won’t be able to do that with determined prosecutors. You need someone on your side quickly who knows the law, knows how to protect you, and knows what it takes to fight the charges aggressively and effectively.
- Document any injuries you suffer. It is not unusual for people accused of domestic violence to actually be the victims of violence perpetrated by the accuser. When police arrive on the scene, they may make mistaken assumptions about who the aggressor was that result in a wrongful arrest. If you have any “defensive injuries” like scratch marks, bite wounds, bruises, lacerations, or other injuries, document them by taking high-quality pictures at several different angles immediately after the incident. These photos can be critical in your defense.
- Follow any court order. In most domestic violence cases, the judge will enter an order prohibiting the accused from having contact with the victim or others, and placing a whole host of other limitations on their rights. If a judge has entered such an order against you, it is imperative that you follow it to the letter. Even if the alleged victim reaches out to you after things have cooled off, do not do anything that violates the order without the judge’s permission, or you could be facing additional charges for doing so. Your attorney can help you modify or terminate the order through the court system.
If you are accused of any form of domestic violence, be it verbal or emotional abuse or physical assault, you need an aggressive attorney on your side who can help you fight your charges and prevent you from incurring life-altering criminal and civil penalties. Domestic violence convictions can impact every aspect of your life, from having to go to prison to losing custody of your children. Jerry Merrill can help you contest these types of serious charges.