Domestic violence makes up a large number of the cases in the US legal system. Domestic abuse and child endangerment cases are taken quite seriously by the courts, and therefore, regardless of the circumstances, it must be taken seriously by the accused. Courts today will usually impose some form of protection order or restraining order on the spouse or partner that is accused. This may also include denial of custodial privileges or visitation rights when children are involved. The quickness with which the courts act oftentimes creates an incentive for false reports. Defending yourself against a domestic violence charge requires accepting certain realities about the nature of the legal system.
First, it must be established that what you see on television dramas is not at all how things work in real life. Many people innocent of domestic abuse charges find themselves in a great deal of legal difficulty because someone needlessly called the police. It may have been a verbal altercation where one spouse called the police to diffuse the situation, maybe he or she labored under the false assumption that they had the power to press or drop charges. If you’ve seen a cop show where someone walks into a police station and says, “I want to press charges” or “I want to drop charges” understand that this is for dramatic purposes and not at all how the legal system actually works. Only the prosecutor assigned to the case may choose to drop charges against a defendant and he or she is under no obligation to accept the recommendation of the spouse or partner that called in the alleged abuse.
Laws have changed in the last decade to protect the lives of individuals living in homes where abuse and violence is present. Studies showed that when an individual was allowed to “drop charges” oftentimes violence escalated with sometimes deadly results. Therefore, the case is now left up to the District Attorney’s office where the prosecutor prior to making a determination will look at all the evidence in the case: the tape of the 911 call, the police’s statement, doctors (if applicable) reports, neighbors testimony, as well as, the testimony of those living in the house. While the testimony of the abused is important to the case, if he or she becomes hostile or changes the version of the events, the prosecutor has the option to continue the case without their assistance. This is very important to understand and accept.
Far too many individuals found themselves in the custody of the state because they believed that their spouse or partner had only to recant for them to be cleared.
So what do you do when accused? Get a lawyer that specializes in criminal or family law and have him or her begin immediately. Your changes of having the charges dropped are better with an attorney than trying to have your spouse or partner contact the DA’s office alone. An attorney will know how to not only decrease the value of the evidence supplied to the DA, but also how to negotiate the case in such a way as to remove barriers to cohabitation.
If you or a loved one has been charged with a crime you should seek assistance immediately from a competent attorney. The legal system in the United States has only gotten more complicated and harder for attorneys to create a good defense for their clients. Having a criminal attorney with experience in the courtroom and in the art of negotiation can mean the difference between jail time and having your case dismissed.
Shayan Shaffie is a relentless, strategic, results-driven Toronto criminal lawyer defending against all criminal charges in Ontario. His expertise is in defending domestic violence charges, sexual assault allegations, and drinking and driving offences.
A graduate of the University of Toronto Law School, Mr. Shaffie learned his trade from the top judges and criminal lawyers of his time. He worked for the Ministry of the Attorney General after graduating, and served as Crown counsel in Hamilton and Scarborough before establishing Shaffie Law.
Today, Mr. Shaffie fights for his clients with skill, intelligence, and a fearless commitment to getting the best result. Shaffie Law is proud of its track record of success, including its policy of client-centric service, flexible fees and a dedication to the highest professional standards.