When you live with another person, disagreements are an unavoidable reality. Even if you don’t intend to harm anyone, arguments can quickly escalate and get out of hand. One act of violence can have life altering consequences, even if no one was seriously hurt. If you are a party to a Wellington domestic violence investigation, it is important to have a competent Attorney on your side to guide you through the process and help protect your rights.
How Does a Domestic Violence Investigation Begin?
When Police report to the scene of a domestic violence call, their first task is to ensure the safety of everyone involved. They will employ de-escalation tactics, separate the parties, and seek medical care for anyone who has been injured. Once everyone is safe, the Officer’s second task is to determine who is the primary aggressor. Sometimes the answer is obvious, but not always.
Identifying the Aggressor in a Domestic Violence Investigation
It is often difficult to determine who is the primary aggressor in a domestic violence investigation. It is not unusual for both parties to the altercation to have differing stories about how the dispute began, how it escalated, who initiated the physical confrontation, or how each parties’ injuries occurred. Most of the time, the only people present when the conflict occurred are the people involved in the domestic dispute, creating a he-said/she-said scenario. When both parties have suffered injuries, it can be difficult to tell which person should be prosecuted. While Officers are trained to investigate these types of claims, they do not always get it right. Even victims of domestic violence may find themselves charged with a crime simply because they defended themselves against violence.
Process of Domestic Violence Charges
Once the Police have determined who they believe to be the primary aggressor, they may choose to bring criminal charges against the perpetrator. Charges can be brought even if the defendant and the victim are able to reconcile their differences. If the Police do choose to bring charges, the victim will be requested to cooperate in the investigation and to testify at Trial, if necessary. They may be required to do so against their will. Since domestic violence charges are criminal in nature, there is a likelihood that the accused could serve jail time if convicted after a Jury trial.
Like other criminal acts, if charges are brought, a prosecutor will begin building a case for Trial. There will be a Trial by Jury in order to determine whether the defendant is guilty of domestic violence. A competent domestic violence Attorney can help the defendant through this process and hopefully avoid a Trial by either getting the case Dismissed or otherwise resolved prior to that even happening.
Possible Outcomes Following a Domestic Violence Charge
A conviction for domestic violence may also affect custody rights, particularly if the children were present when the violence occurred. If children were present at the time of the incident, Child Protective Services may be called upon to perform their own investigation to ensure the safety of the children in the home. If it is determined that the domestic violence was harmful to the children, it could affect the custody rights of the defendant. A conviction to a Domestic Violence charge could also affect one’s rights to own, possess or carry a firearm.
In addition to criminal charges, a victim of domestic violence also has the right to seek a protective order against the alleged perpetrator. With a protective order in place, the defendant may be required to stay a certain distance from the victim, vacate their shared residence, and even forfeit their firearms.
Retain Professional Legal Assistance
If you are a party to a Wellington domestic violence investigation, an Attorney at Leifert & Leifert can help you answer the Police’s questions, document your injuries, obtain a protective order, and, if necessary, represent you at Trial. If you are the alleged perpetrator, your Lawyer can help you navigate the legal proceeding to ensure that your rights are protected.