The police were called and I was investigated or arrested but I haven’t been charged yet with a domestic violence charge…
What can I do to prevent my case from being filed?
You need to immediately hire a good criminal defense attorney to start contacting the police department investigating your case and the District Attorney’s office to try to prevent the case from actually being filed against you in court. Your attorney can do an investigation with their own private investigators and show mitigating factors about you or the situation to persuade the District Attorney not to file criminal charges against you. It is crucial to prevent a criminal case from being filed as soon as possible because once formal charges are filed against you in court, it is much harder to get them dismissed after the fact.
Why is it crucial that I hire an attorney at this point?
Your attorney will do the communicating directly with the police department investigating your case and the District Attorney’s office reviewing it for a possible criminal filing. Your attorney will be able to present additional facts to show why you are not guilty, why there was a misunderstanding, why the victim does not wish to prosecute, and any other additional important information that will help a District Attorney decide whether formal criminal charges should be filed against you. You need a zealous and experienced criminal defense attorney that can stop the case before it goes to court.
How long does the District Attorney have to file domestic violence charges against me?
Typically, domestic violence charges are filed immediately after an incident. However, the statute of limitations for a misdemeanor domestic violence crime is usually 1 year from the date of arrest or incident. The statute of limitations for a felony domestic violence crime is usually 3 years from the date of arrest or incident. Sometimes, it takes longer to charge someone formally with domestic violence charges because further investigation needs to be conducted and witness statements were taken. It can take several months before you are formally charged with a crime and told to come to court.
If my case isn’t filed, what do I do in the meantime?
Your attorney will advise you of what you need to do while waiting to see if formal criminal charges will be filed against you. If a restraining order in place, you have to abide by that order and have no contact with the protected party. It is best you listen to the advice of your attorney, continue to go to work or school, and not get into any other altercations or incidents while this case is pending. Your attorney might have you voluntarily enroll in classes such as a batterer’s treatment program or anger management so that they can show your good faith to the District Attorney. Your attorney might also advise you to attend other types of counseling or substance abuse rehabilitation programs. Each case is unique and needs to be dealt with creatively so that you can ultimately get the best outcome. That is why it is crucial to have an experienced domestic violence criminal defense attorney to advise you along the way.
The police want a further statement from me. Should I talk to them?
Absolutely not. You should inform the police that you have an attorney and have them call your attorney. Do not talk to the police without talking to your attorney first and only if your attorney advises you to do so. Oftentimes, the attorney will advise you not to talk to them unless they believe it will help your situation. Once the police are involved in a domestic violence case, it is crucial that you have an attorney to defend your rights and prevent any confessions or incriminating statements.
Can I contact my girlfriend, spouse, etc… (the “victim”) in the domestic violence case to drop the charges?
Absolutely not. If there is a restraining order, you need to abide by that and not have any contact with the other party. Otherwise, you will face an additional criminal charge of violating a restraining order and be looking at increased sentences on your original domestic violence case.
Your attorney can communicate with the victim in the proper ways, such as through a private investigator. It is crucial not to obstruct justice, get in the way of a proper investigation, or appear to harass the victim. Your attorney will know what the proper procedures are.