What does a Domestic Violence Attorney do?
There are situations that people may find themselves in that they may seriously regret later. Unfortunately, when these matters get out of hand and the police get involved, they can lead to significant problems in the future.
It is especially troublesome when these instances occur between people in close relationships, whether that be a family member or a significant other.
Arguments, altercations or any type of disagreement often escalate if not handled properly. These issues can cause significant problems if these incidents get to the point where police are involved. When the criminal justice system is initiated, the stakes are raised as what happens during the criminal process can have a profound effect on the persons accused of criminal wrongdoing. Additionally, the stress and trauma placed on the victim can also be just as profound.
Domestic violence issues need to be handled appropriately and with the utmost care. They also need to be taken seriously when rising to the level of involving the police. It is much easier and inexpensive to deal with domestic issues before they arise as opposed to fixing them after an arrest.
The most delicate aspect of the process in domestic relations is dealing with the fact that the people involved have a connection. This leads to problems with clarifying evidence, determining the true nature of the problem and assessing what follow-up action needs to be taken. The scenario often follows a similar pattern.
Police are notified of a disturbance at a resident. When they arrive, the individuals involved are highly stressed and irritated. The police separate the individual's involved and begin to ask questions and assess whether a crime has occurred. It is here where issues can arise. The police, as not usually being first-hand eyewitnesses to the altercation, get their information from the parties who don't always give completely objective and accurate accounts of what has happened. Each party involved discusses the facts as they see them. Police then make an on-the-spot determination of what has occurred. They then use that assessment to take action, which may involve an arrest.
That initial assessment can be the basis of an arrest and can lead to a plethora of problems for the accused. The person arrested now has a criminal arrest record and will need to face a criminal prosecution. That person will need an attorney to help them navigate that prosecution.
Bear in mind that is also possible that both parties involved in the dispute are arrested, especially if there is physical evidence of violence. So both parties may require legal representation. It is important that people who find themselves in a domestic violence situation to understand their rights and understand the criminal justice process.
When would l need a Domestic Violence Attorney?
Finding yourself in a domestic violence situation has unfortunately become a not too uncommon occurrence. As years have gone by the public, along with state government, have taken far more assertive stances on domestic violence. In earlier times, arrests would not usually follow a domestic dispute. Today, a call regarding domestic dispute will likely result in an arrest and subsequent charges being filed.
Domestic violence also has to be understood correctly. While theoretically, it could be a simple argument, domestic violence cases are concerned with physical violence being directed another by a person they are in a relationship with. Domestic relationships usually concern married couples or familial relationships. Some laws even address persons who are engaged or living together. The nature of the relationship also escalates the severity of the crime.
Domestic violence charges are elevated offenses from their basic criminal counterparts of assault and battery. Elevated I the sense that they usually carry more severe punishment.
Domestic violence can also include stalking. Stalking can be defined in many ways that do not involve physical contact such as following an estranged partner or showing up at their place of employment. With the advent of the internet and social media applications, stalking has taken on a greater spectrum. The ability to follow, investigate and harass strangers along with people to whom the stalker is familiar, has greatly increased and many legislatures have taken this into account with laws that cover cyberstalking.
While domestic violence can take many shapes and forms it must be understood that domestic violence cases are not all occurrences that result in a victim being beaten severely. While those extreme cases are also common, they are not to be lumped in with the minor cases that result from shouting and shoving by both parties involved. That distinction is not a meaningless one and can be factored into the circumstances of the case. An experienced defense attorney knowledgeable of domestic violence cases can provide guidance on the nuance involved in these cases.
Signs you need to speak to a Domestic Violence Attorney
- You are facing criminal charges brought on by an incident with a person you are in a relationship with
- You are facing a restraining order
- You have been verbally or threatened by a loved one
How do you choose a Domestic Violence Attorney?
Choosing an attorney in this area does not need to be difficult. First, understand that domestic violence issues can involve civil as well as criminal attorneys. You may need a civil attorney to file a restraining order or lawsuit against an attacker. Criminal defense attorneys are used for when charges have been filed or will be filed.
While regular criminal defense firms will have attorneys who have handled domestic violence situations before, family law attorneys can also be a likely useful resource. Not only are they familiar with domestic violence issues, they are also well-versed in family related matters that stem from turbulent domestic relationships such as divorce and child custody.
The first thing you need to do is to understand that you will need help. You may be the accused and in need of criminal defense assistance or you may be the victim of an assault in which you may need to speak with a professional in order to come to grips with the situation. Family counseling and anger management assistance are widely available and should be used when needed.
- Determine Your Needs
Do you need a criminal lawyer? This is the easiest case to determine, as you will be well aware of the charges pending from an arrest. If you have been a victim, you may want to file for a protective order and would need an attorney equipped to file for one. Do you subsequently need a divorce attorney or an attorney to handle a child custody situation as the result of a domestic violence situation?
Once you understand your own needs, you need to begin a search for an attorney that is best suited to fit your needs. Making lists and asking questions, whether it be amongst people you trust or on-line, are always good routes to choose.
- Research Online
Most people begin their search online. That is always a good way to start and you will find plenty of sources of information. To begin, you may want to search for your state's domestic violence laws. It iss good to actually see the wording of these laws to help you understand why you have been charged with a crime. There are also usually an abundance of articles written that help you understand why domestic violence situations are treated differently.
An online search can also help you understand the ramifications of a charge and subsequent conviction of domestic violence means. A conviction results in a criminal record that may or may not be expungable. Related protective orders are likely and could hinder future background checks depending on the level of the check and the reason for the check. Associated domestic violence incidents also do not help the accused or convicted in child custody proceedings.
Many attorney blogs will have more information about your specific geographic area and will help you fully understand the specific process. The more information the attorney website provides, the more knowledgeable the attorney.
- Check the State Bar Association’s Website for any Disciplinary History
Once you get the name of a few firms or attorneys you may want to seek out, take the extra step of researching the individual attorney. Each state’s bar association has areas on their website that address attorney discipline. There you can see if the attorney has been reprimanded for ethical violations.
- Schedule an Appointment with a Domestic Violence Attorney
After you have researched the attorney and the firm, make plans to speak to multiple attorneys. You will want to come prepared with questions about the law and the experience level of your potential attorney. Be sure to understand that you need to be ready to fully disclose a very personal incident to your attorney. Even though it may be embarrassing and uncomfortable, it will help the attorney do their job when the time comes to represent you.