5 Tips for a Domestic Assault Charge

Domestic Assault cases are some of the most difficult and emotional cases. These cases are passionately charged and aggressively pursued by the State. Prosecutors avoid plea deals because of political pressure. If a plea offer is given, collateral consequences, such as firearm loss or loss of a professional license, make it a challenge to reach an agreement.

Despite the difficulties of a domestic assault case, there are opportunities to set yourself apart from the expectations of the judge or prosecutor. What can you do to help your case even if you are innocent? See below for tips on handling a domestic assault charge.

5 Tips for a Domestic Assault Charge

1.) Chemical use is a common factor of why people are in court. Prosecutors and judges are sensitive if chemicals were a contributing factor in a case. Because of this, I always recommend scheduling a chemical use assessment. If a plea agreement is offered or even if the State agrees to dismiss the charges, they will insist that a chemical use assessment has been completed. The hope is that by having this assessment completed, law enforcement will not be involved in another domestic incident.

2.) If an agreement is reached, the State may request an anger management assessment or domestic violence inventory. By taking control of your case and being proactive, the recommendations are limited rather than being forced because of court action. Taking the initiative in your case can be the difference between a conviction or a favorable outcome.

3.) Be aware of your conditions of release, which include a no contact order, or a stronger version called a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order or DANCO for short. If you violate your conditions of release, you can be arrested, your bail will be raised, or conditional bail will be rescinded with the option of only paying unconditional bail. If you violate a DANCO you can be charged with a new crime. A DANCO is a one-way street. This means the alleged victim in your case can contact you, but you cannot contact them.

4.) It is common that once charges are filed and law enforcement is involved that the alleged victim recants their story. It is important that your attorney or an investigator talks to the alleged victim in the case early on and gets a version of the facts that actually took place. Additionally, while they are talking to the alleged victim, it is not uncommon for the alleged victim to request the DANCO or no contact order be dropped. The prosecutor will typically object to this request as they are concerned their criminal case will be damaged severely. However, allowing contact helps you return to a more normal life. Finally, your attorney should draft an affidavit or a sworn statement for the alleged victim to sign. This statement can be used in court to either have the conditions of release modified or provide an accurate description of the incident.

5.) My final tip is to hire a lawyer. The legal system is adversarial, meaning the State and the defendant do not work together to reach an agreement. You need somebody looking out for your best interests. Domestic abuse cases carry a stigma that can last for the remainder of your life. It is important that you hire an attorney early in the case so they can be aggressive and give you the best possible outcome.

None of these five tips alone may be the magic bullet to get your case dismissed. The expectation is that each one will increase the possibility of getting the case dismissed and ultimately help you get the best result in the end.

Domestic Assault cases are hard, and a pending case creates a situation where you are living life in limbo. You will want a knowledgeable and experienced attorney that you trust and can help you trust the process.

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