Interviewer: What’s the most common type of assault situation or scenario that you usually come across?
Paul Tafelski: I would say the most common scenario is, parties, usually a man and a woman, they’re in some kind of domestic relationship, husband wife, or boyfriend girlfriend, sometimes brother sister or a child and a parent. Somebody or both have been drinking, an argument ensues, and somebody tries to leave and the other person stops them or takes their phone or pushes them down or slaps them in the face, or shoves them down, maybe chokes them for a minute, not a minute but even just 5 seconds and the other person calls the police, mainly just wanting the police to come and defuse the situation, and then the police come and make an arrest and start the legal process. That’s probably the common scenario where the next day, neither party wants the charges to proceed but it’s out of their hands at that point.
A Complaining Witness Cannot Drop Charges of Assault, Only the Prosecutor Has that Authority
Interviewer: So they can’t say, ‘oh, we want to drop this, this was a big mistake’, they don’t really want to pursue this anymore, it’s going to keep on going, it’s going to keep biting them?
Paul Tafelski: Yes. Many times we’ll have somebody ask the question, can I drop the charges? I don’t want to press charges. And the truth is, once you file that police report, now you have become a witness. You are what’s called a complaining witness and it’s not up to you any more, it’s up to the prosecutor. And the prosecutor as a policy based on a lot of political reasons and the fact that they don’t know who is the person who is going to go from the low level to the high level. They don’t like to drop these cases, they want to prosecute them even where the victim or the complaining witness does not want to proceed. So there are sometimes ways where the complaining witness can force the prosecutor to drop the case but it all depends upon the facts of that actual case.
Bar-Fights are a Common Example of a Situation Spiraling Towards Assault Charges
Interviewer: What’s the most common situation you’ve seen with assault charges? Is it also like gathering or maybe outside of a bar, do you see a lot of that?
Paul Tafelski: Yeah, most of the times what you’ll see is a fight around closing time from the bar. Two people that have been drinking exchange words, punches are thrown and the police, especially if it’s in certain areas like around here, Royal Oak or Birmingham or Novae, Plymouth, some areas where they have downtown, areas where there a lot of bars, the police will usually be all around those places at closing time and as soon as somebody starts fighting they’re on it, and both guys get arrested and both guys get charged with assault and battery.
Self Defense Is A Viable Defense for Assault or Domestic Violence Charges in Court
Interviewer: What about the idea of self-defense, what if I came to you and say, ‘Hey, look I’m facing some assault charges here, but it was in self-defense whether it’s domestic or outside domestic?
Paul Tafelski: In both these kind of cases, assault and battery and domestic violence they are among the best type of cases to fight and defend yourself on and usually the defense comes in one of two ways: either A, self-defense like you said, because you are allowed to use reasonable force to defend yourself, and B, the other person’s lying, I didn’t do it and so the reason why they are often good cases to defend because the complaining witness is often somebody who’s been drinking or because of the fact that they are in the heat of the moment; they lie and they exaggerate about what really happened or they give conflicting versions of what really happened, and so they open themselves up to cross examination due to the fact that they’ve given more than one version of events, and so a lot of times you can attack their credibility and win these cases. They’re definitely good cases to fight because usually the only people around who are good witnesses are the people who are both involved.