Interviewer: How long is the typical case? How long do they last?
Paul Tafelski: It really varies, but usually for a misdemeanor typical first offense domestic violence case, from the time the incident happens until the time the case is over, it’s usually maybe about eight weeks. If the case is going to end up having to go to trial or has some evidentiary issues and things like that, you’re usually talking maybe twice that time – three or four months, something like that. It all depends upon the court, how busy they are, how busy their docket is, how long it takes to get the evidence that you’re after, whether or not the client could make up their mind if they want to go to trial or take a plea bargain. It all depends.
Interviewer: Is there anything else that we missed in regard to domestic violence or assault cases that you’d like to throw in.
Paul Tafelski: One thing is for anybody who’s not a U.S. citizen; it’s important to realize that these domestic violence cases are treated as crimes of moral turpitude and therefore make you deportable or can be used against you in consideration for citizenship or a green card. Therefore, it is more important for people who face immigration consequences to try and beat this case, if possible.
If you do get one of the programs for first offenders where they take it under advisement and then dismiss it at the end, they still count it as a conviction for immigration purposes. Therefore, that doesn’t really help you very much, if anything, as far as immigration is concerned. For those people who have potential immigration consequences, these cases are even more important and serious. That’s one thing.
Just in general, I guess what I would tell people is don’t panic. Don’t freak out. It can be dealt with. Good resolutions can be obtained and everything can work out.
Interviewer: With the strain of all this that’s happening, how do you help individuals get on with their lives and help remove that emotional aspect during the case?
Paul Tafelski: The only thing I can do is explain everything to them. What I find is that once people really understand what’s going on, then that helps a little bit with their anxiety. The second thing is, once they know what’s going to happen, then that helps with their anxiety and they can focus on the task at hand of whatever they need to do. Then last but not least is just that as time passes it gets a little bit better and people get back to normal. These are problems that may immediately seem life-changing, but usually if they’re handled right, by the end of the day everything works out okay and it’s not the end of the world.
Driver’s License Implications
Interviewer: One last question here. Just let me know: can this affect someone’s ability to drive or have a driver’s license if they get charged with domestic violence?
Paul Tafelski: No, not typically around here.