All charges dismissed through negotiations with Assistant United States Attorney.
Evidence in DC Domestic Violence Cases
An experienced DC domestic violence lawyer can develop an effective defense for someone facing these charges. The cases can be emotionally difficult and complicated because of the relationships between people. Having an experienced lawyer can make an enormous difference in outcomes.
DC prosecutors and judges treat cases filed in the domestic violence courts harshly and they are aggressively prosecuted. There are misconceptions that cause someone facing these charges to misunderstand what they are facing. To best understand what you are facing and what evidence in your DC domestic violence case will be presented and how to move forward, you should begin working with a skilled domestic violence attorney right away.
Gathering Evidence and Information
A lawyer can speak to possible witnesses and can interview individuals who may know the complainant or may have seen the incident that resulted in criminal charges. A defense lawyer can also attempt to seek out a video or other types of surveillance footage that may have captured the incident being alleged. Defense lawyers can also research the background of the complainant and thereby get a fuller picture of the relationship between a defendant and a complainant than one might be presented by the prosecutors.
Conducting DC domestic violence investigations can help a defendant seek out favorable information and can help a defendant present either at trial or in plea negotiations, information that can contradict a complainant’s version of events or mitigate the prosecutor’s case. That can serve to either challenge a complainant’s evidence at trial or help minimize penalties when it comes to plea negotiations or sentencing.
Prosecutors will almost always try to use the testimony of the accuser. If a person allegedly told their significant other that they are going to hurt them, that could be charged as a domestic violence threat. Even if the person did not follow through, but they were threatened, that person can call the police and the prosecutors would decide if they want to use that statement and charge it as a crime.
If they charge it as a crime and the case goes to trial, then they would bring the accuser into court to testify and that could be the sole piece of evidence because there might not be any other witnesses to testify. Very often, domestic violence trials come down to one person saying that one thing happened and the defendant saying something else. That is a situation that occurs in a lot of domestic violence cases in DC, but cases can be much more complicated with multiple witnesses. Sometimes there is video evidence of the area where the alleged offense happened. The incident might have happened in a place that has security cameras, or numerous eye-witnesses.
Importance of an Accusation
One common misconception that people have in domestic violence cases is that there must be corroborating evidence aside from the accusation made by the alleged victim to prove a person guilty. That is usually not the case. In domestic violence cases, evidence can be limited to the accusation made by the alleged victim. Sometimes, allegations are made with no witnesses. There are no other people around when two people in a room argue with each other. In many of these cases, there are no witnesses and no physical evidence.
It is not uncommon in domestic violence cases for evidence to consist of a complainant or an alleged victim telling the police what took place. The police make an arrest and the prosecutor moves forward on charges based only on the alleged victim’s allegations. In some situations, there is more evidence. There are additional witnesses or physical evidence and possibly video surveillance that captures an incident when there are cameras scanning the area.
The evidence is limited to a complaining witness and their version of events alleging that they were assaulted or threatened in many of the domestic violence cases. In some situations, that is sufficient for prosecutors to move forward on filing charges and prosecuting a case.
Burden of Proof
Prosecutors can move forward on criminal charges, whether it is domestic violence or another type of case based solely on an allegation made by a supposed victim. However, prosecutors still bear the burden of proving their case beyond a reasonable doubt. At trial, prosecutors must call witnesses to testify about the events of the assault or some other criminal offense. Sometimes there is only a single witness, the alleged victim.
It is important for a defense lawyer to thoroughly investigate the allegations and explore possible witnesses besides the alleged victim. The defense lawyer investigates the alleged victim to explore the possibility of biases to challenge the credibility or their recollection of the events.
A person who makes an accusation might have a motivation to fabricate evidence. They may want to gain leverage in a custody dispute or have a desire for revenge. There could be a fight with two different versions of the events and neither person is attempting to lie or fabricate.
Challenging, or potentially refuting and dismissing, the evidence and the prosecutor’s ability to meet their burden and prove a person guilty is the primary role of a defense lawyer. To accomplish that, the lawyer must conduct an investigation, review the evidence, and explore any available defenses. The defense might be a mistaken identity argument, a self-defense argument, or competing versions of events that cast doubt on the reliability of the alleged victim’s version.
Working with a DC Domestic Violence Lawyer
Many people charged with domestic violence offenses believe these are civil cases that can be resolved financially or in civil courts and criminal cases can be dismissed. There are many misconceptions about DC domestic violence cases making it all the more important for a person facing these kinds of charges to speak with a local DC attorney who is familiar with DC domestic violence laws.
These cases are different from state to state. Understanding the procedures followed by the DC domestic violence judges and prosecutors can make the difference between a person going to jail or going free or having a conviction on their record and having their case dismissed.