Domestic violence means different things to different people. A lot of people think of it as a situation where one person in the relationship beats up the other person, like the Ray Rice incident. However, the majority of cases prosecuted are much less violent and involve either a slap or a push or grabbing somebody against their will.
I have seen an increase in the number of prosecutions, although I don’t think there is really an increase in the number of actual domestic violence cases. It used to be that if someone called the police for domestic violence, the cops would show up and if there wasn’t something really serious, they would make one person leave for the night to cool down. But now, many police departments have a policy where they will arrest somebody. Most of the time it will be the man, but not always.
Is There a Typical Age for the Accused or the Victim?
No. I’d say the most common denominator is that in probably three-quarters of cases, alcohol is involved. It’s usually alcohol infused anger driving a situation, but you can have young people, married people, middle aged people, old people; it doesn’t really matter. Legally, domestic violence is defined as an assault or battery upon someone with whom you have a domestic relationship. That person could be a brother, sister, mother, cousin, a roommate, or a boyfriend/girlfriend. To be guilty of the crime, you technically only have to place someone in imminent fear of a battery or commit a battery.
Battery is defined as a harmful or offensive touching, and that doesn’t take much, so the classic situation would be if I raised my hand really quickly while you and I are arguing and you think I’m about to hit you, legally that could be considered an assault because I just placed you in imminent fear of a harmful or offensive touching. Even though I didn’t hit you, I might have assaulted you.
If we’re arguing and I push you a little or poke you, that can be considered a battery because it’s offensive touching. In many circumstances, domestic violence charges result from relatively minor physical contact and sometimes no contact.
What Sort of Evidence Do Prosecutors Use In Domestic Violence Cases?
Not as much as they look for in some other cases, the reason being domestic violence is a very popular topic in the media these days and so, as a result, prosecutors who are politicians by nature are looking for ways to benefit themselves as well as protect the public. So, for many of these cases, all they take is an allegation from one person that the other person did something even if there are no bruises or physical evidence, the police will often arrest somebody and charge them with domestic violence and the prosecutor will prosecute them.
How Can A Domestic Violence Charge Impact Employment Opportunities?
It’s more serious than most other misdemeanors because it is an assaultive crime and it has a stigma attached to it. Many employers shy away from hiring someone because of a domestic violence conviction if they had an equal or close to equal candidate to choose. If you think about it from the employer’s standpoint, if they hire somebody who they know has an assaultive history and this person ends up getting into further trouble or getting into an assaultive situation with an employee, they could be concerned that they would face liability for hiring this person.
Some of the more paranoid employers may just cross you off the list if you have that conviction on your record. Even though it’s a misdemeanor, those words, “domestic violence,” scares people and gives people a picture in their mind of something that may be much more serious than what actually occurred.
How Do Concepts like Trespassing or Stalking Relate to Domestic Violence?
They are related often in the sense that they are signs of a relationship that is failing or failed and one party wants the other party to leave, stop, or be left alone. Trespassing often arises where people keep showing up at premises when they are not supposed to or they are not invited.
Stalking generally occurs after one party has expressly told the other party to, “Leave me alone, don’t contact me” and that other party continues to do that, that’s where you can find the charges of stalking. They are all kind of related in the domestic violence world just because they usually involve relationships.
Will There Always Be An Arrest in a Domestic Violence Situation?
It seems like there is almost always an arrest now. Once in a while, I will get a report from a client that the police came and did not make an arrest immediately, or they just gave the people a warning and left but in the vast majority of cases if somebody calls the police and alleges that another person touched them in any way, there will almost always be an arrest.
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