Domestic violence affects people from all walks of life. In fact, it is estimated that one in four women and one in seven men have been the victim of domestic violence. In Arizona alone, arrests for aggravated acts of domestic violence increased by over 80% between 2001 and 2010.
When law enforcement has to get involved, the consequence for the alleged offender will be decided upon in court. If you have been impacted by domestic violence and want to consider your options, a domestic violence lawyer is worth considering for several reasons. Read on to learn more.
1. Talking Your Way Out Alone Rarely Works
After an altercation, there are times when one or both parties decide that they no longer want to proceed with the court hearing. In these situations, one or both parties might try to talk their way out of the issue by labeling the altercation as a misunderstanding or a simple argument. Though judges have heard this many times, the case will not be simply thrown out under these conditions. If you’d like to put the altercation behind you, the best way to do so is by having representation.
2. Claiming Self-Defense is Difficult
In many domestic violence cases, the defendant will claim that his or her actions were taken in self-defense and that the other party was the one that initiated the physical altercation. Whether or not this is true, convincing a judge of such claims is not as easy as making a statement. A domestic violence lawyer has the experience needed to shed light on the truth of the matter.
3. The Impact of Conviction Lasts For a While
While the court case may be stressful enough, a domestic violence conviction can carry long-lasting consequences. Whether you’re the victim or the defendant, you’ll want to be aware of what a domestic violence conviction means in the long run. Once convicted, a defendant may find it difficult to gain employment, attend college, or come out of a divorce or custody case with any success. A domestic violence lawyer can make transitioning back into everyday life smoother.
4. Nature of Offense = Type of Conviction
Domestic violence can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the nature of the altercation. If the defendant already has two domestic violence charges, he or she may be convicted of a felony. If the altercation involved a weapon, it may also result in felony charges. Legal representation by a domestic violence lawyer can help make sense of the offense and take steps to steer the case in a direction that benefits their client.
5. The State Presses Charges
Domestic violence is a criminal matter, which means that once it’s been reported, the state itself proceeds with the charges. The victim cannot drop the charges because he or she is no longer the one pressing them. He or she could decide to be uncooperative in court, but the case will still proceed. For this reason, it’s better to have a legal professional on your side, whether you’re working with a private lawyer or you qualify for a public defender.
6. Domestic Violence is Not Only Physical
As a defendant, you cannot necessarily bank on the fact that you did not physically assault the other party to lead to dropped charges. In the state of Arizona, domestic violence can encompass several actions, including the following: putting children in dangerous situations, harassment, stalking, threatening/intimidating, and more. In other words, just because you did not directly hurt anyone does not mean that domestic violence did not take place, at least from the perspective of the law.
The prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty, and it is up to the prosecution to present evidence of the alleged altercations. If you’re the victim, a skillful legal representative can help present the evidence of the case. If you’re the defendant, you should have legal representation to disprove your alleged guilt.
7. Wrongful Accusations
Being the defendant in a domestic violence dispute, you might be confident in your chances of success because you know that the charges are false. While it’s important to keep a positive outlook, disproving the charges is not as easy as it may seem. Many defendants claim that their charges are false as well, but judges still have to consider the case and all of the evidence provided. To protect yourself, it’s in your best interest to seek the help of a professional who can make your innocence known.
Domestic violence cases can become very complicated very quickly and while a case may seem cut-and-dry from an outside perspective, it might become anything but in the courtroom. Having legal representation is the best chance you have of accurately pleading your case and pointing the outcome in the right direction.