Years ago violence within the home had little or nothing to do with the criminal justice system. Violence that occurred behind closed doors was not a topic for public discussion and police were infrequently involved in domestic disputes.
During the past 20 to 30 years, that attitude has changed greatly and domestic violence charges create significant confusion for the family of an accused. Rather than simply ignoring the problem, some states have enacted laws that says law enforcement agencies must separate a couple if they are called to a domestic disturbance – which usually means taking one to jail.
In cases where both people allege that they were attacked by the other, the law enforcement officers responding to the scene attempt to weigh the available evidence to determine which party was the aggressor or who inflicted the most damage. This evaluation includes figuring out which party, if any, has visible injuries and the extent of those injuries. Law enforcement officers will likely interview the people involved (and witnesses, if there are any) apart from one another to avoid further fighting and to receive the most accurate possible versions of events. The police officers may also evaluate factors such as alcohol or drug usage leading up to the domestic violence incident or accusation.
In Florida, most criminal defendants who take a plea deal following domestic violence charges involve batterers intervention classes, which usually meet weekly. Those who take the plea deal must often meet probation-like requirements, such as reporting regularly and staying free of drugs. They must also attend a certain number of batterers intervention classes while paying the required fee per class. However, plea deals offered by the state vary significantly from case to case and defendant to defendant and may account for factors such as the defendant’s prior record and the seriousness of the allegations.
Domestic violence charges may be confusing for an accused but as a whole they are highly defendable on many levels.
By William R. Moore, [email protected]