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Prosecution of Domestic Violence in DC

One of the most common misconceptions about the prosecution of domestic violence in DC is that an accuser needs to press charges in order for a defendant to be prosecuted for a crime. That is not the case. The decision whether to prosecute a person on allegations of some kind of domestic violence offense is not left to the accuser. Prosecution of Domestic Violence in DC It is critical that an individual not face a prosecutor on their own. An experienced domestic violence lawyer can help you build an appropriate defense for your desired future.

In Washington, DC, the decision as to whether a person gets prosecuted and what charges to file against that person rests entirely with a government prosecutor who works for the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia. When a person is arrested on accusations of a domestic violence offense, a prosecutor typically does not have much time to decide whether they would like to file charges or not file charges.

Role of a Prosecutor

In many circumstances, a prosecutor does not even have time to consult with an accuser or even speak with an accuser before deciding to file charges. In most situations, a prosecutor would rely mostly on a report written by the arresting police officer and may ask to follow up or clarification questions.

In many situations, prosecutors wait to speak to an accuser or the person referred to as the complainant until after they have already made the decision whether to file charges or not file charges. Prosecutors will take a look at the evidence presented in a police report and ideally determine whether they believe there is sufficient evidence to conclude that they could secure a conviction at trial for one or more criminal offense.

The prosecution of domestic violence in DC would review the evidence and make a judgment call saying whether or not they can prove the case. In many instances, prosecutors do not have enough time to conduct a full investigation and so they will rely on the limited amount of information to make that call.

Making the Decision to Proceed to Trial

The prosecution of domestic violence in DC does not necessarily need to be 100 percent confident of their case. They may simply decide that based on the evidence, they have enough information, enough evidence to be able to charge a person but then would continue conducting an investigation or additional witness interviews after the charge has been filed.

Sometimes the standard can seem pretty low for a prosecutor to file a charge. Even if a prosecutor decides that there is enough evidence to pursue charges against the person, that does not necessarily mean that prosecutors would have enough evidence to actually secure a conviction at a trial. That is where thorough defense work can come into play to look at the prosecutor’s evidence and conduct a separate investigation to challenge the prosecutor’s witnesses and challenge the evidence that they plan on putting forward.

This would only happen after a prosecutor has decided whether to file charges. A prosecutor would not consult with a defense lawyer while making their determination about filing or not filing charges.

Accuser Participation

DC prosecution does not necessarily need the accuser to be present for the investigation into their claim. Since most domestic violence cases do not have witnesses aside from the accuser and the accused, many of them cannot move forward without the cooperation of an accuser. In most situations, if an accuser does not want to cooperate, the prosecutors do not have a way to go forward on a case. They do have the ability to force the cooperation of an accuser. That usually causes problems because they cannot rely on the credibility of that witness, so they do not like to move forward without the full cooperation of the accuser.

The Prosecution’s Court Demonstration

There is no single domestic violence charge in Washington, DC domestic violence occurs in a division of the DC Superior Court and it is a division of the prosecutor’s office but when a person has been charged in the domestic violence court, they still have to actually be charged with a specific crime.

That crime could be an assault, a threat, stalking, destruction of property or any other crimes as defined under DC law. A person cannot be simply charged with domestic violence because there is no charge called domestic violence. If a prosecutor seeking to convict an individual charged with assault in the domestic violence court of the DC Superior Court then the standard of proving that assault would be no different from the standard for proving an assault in a non-domestic violence situation.

The same would apply for proving that a defendant committed a threat or committed the offense of stalking. The key point of the prosecution of domestic violence in DC is the establishment of the relationship between the complaining witness and the defendant.

If an assault is alleged to have occurred and the complainant and defendant have some kind of intrafamily relationship then that assault charge could be filed in the domestic violence branch of the DC Superior Court. It would then be prosecuted by special prosecutors who handle only domestic violence cases but even in those situations, the constitutional rights that are afforded to the defendant and the burden of proof that is placed on the prosecutors. Meaning, the level of evidence that would have to be presented to prove a person is guilty is exactly the same in a domestic violence court as it is in any other court.

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