Domestic Violence – A Defendant’s Survival Guide

Domestic Violence charges are treated differently than most other criminal cases because from the outset of the charge, not the conviction, it is very likely that you will have your home and your children taken from you. We are supposed to have a criminal system where you are innocent until proven guilty but as you will discover that is not the case with Domestic Violence charges. This survival guide will help explain the system you’re up against and how to get through it.

  • Do not plead guilty at Arraignment. Arraignment is the first formal court appearance in a criminal case. During this hearing, you will be formally notified of the criminal charge against you and given the opportunity to plead guilty or not guilty. DO NOT PLEAD GUILTY! This is obvious in cases where you do not believe you’ve done anything wrong but is also true in cases where you do think you’ve done something wrong. There is no benefit in pleading guilty up front but there may be costs in doing so.

Some inexperienced people mistakenly believe that if they plead guilty at arraignment, they will get a lighter sentence than if they plead guilty later. This is incorrect. The reverse is much more common; you will likely get sentenced harder if you plead guilty up front.

If you decide to plead guilty later, the Judge will not use the fact that you pled not guilty initially against you. By pleading not guilty at Arraignment, what you are really saying to the Judge is that you want a chance to see what evidence the Prosecutor has and if you feel it is sufficient to prove your guilt then you want a chance to negotiate with the Prosecutor for a better outcome.

  • Pre-Trial No Contact Orders. In most criminal cases, a Judge will issue an order directing the Defendant not have any contact with the alleged victim. In Domestic Violence cases, that order can be extended to the victim’s home, place of work, and children. These orders are issued before there is a finding of guilt and can render a Defendant homeless. If you work at the same place as your spouse then you might just find yourself out of a job too. Whether or not the children were involved with the incident, you can be prohibited from seeing them.

If you are served with an order like this, DO NOT VIOLATE IT. Violating a No Contact Order is an independent crime. That means even if the underlying charge is dismissed, you can still be prosecuted just for violating the order. The better way is to get the order removed.

Here’s what I often see in my practice: Two people are together. Something happens, the police are involved and a No Contact Order slams into place. People, being people, want to work out whatever problems they have. At some point, the alleged victim contacts the Defendant and says something to the effect of “Come on over and we’ll work it all out.” The problem, of course, is that the No Contact Order is still in effect and no contact means NO CONTACT even if it’s invited by the alleged victim. The two people go out to celebrate their rekindled love and someone pulls a ‘slow and go’ at a stop sign (or some other normally insignificant violation). The next thing the Defendant knows, he’s off to jail for violating the No Contact Order. Even if the underlying criminal case goes away, he’s still got a Domestic Violence criminal conviction on his record for violating the order.

  • Legal Help. You will need professional help to successfully defend against a Domestic Violence charge. There are two ways to get this help: hire a private attorney or get a public defender appointed.

Public Defenders: Public Defenders are among the most maligned group of attorneys on the planet. More often than not, their reputation is undeserved. I have met many public defenders that are both passionate about what they do as well as extremely skillful. Like any group of people, some are better than others. Most, however, have huge caseloads; which means they cannot spend the kind of time on a case that a private attorney can. If the Court appoints a Public Defender to you, you are stuck with whomever they assign. You will have no control over which one you get. If you choose to go with a public defender and later change your mind, you can always have a private attorney substitute in. A Judge will not penalize you for doing this.

Private Attorneys. There are two advantages with private attorneys: First, they tend to have lower case loads, so can spend more time on your matter. Second, you get to choose which one you hire. This means that you should look for someone that communicates well, has a deep understanding of this area of law and really knows how to listen to you.

  • Options: There will most likely be several options for resolving your criminal case, but they may not become available until after your case is underway.

Trial

No one wants to go to trial. It’s expensive, stressful and risky. Why do so many attorneys like to talk about trial then? There are two answers: (1) It may be the only way to avoid a criminal conviction; and (2) you may be able to negotiate a better settlement immediately prior to trial.

The tactics used at trial, like Self Defense or Burden of Proof, will depend on the facts specific to your case. This is where an experienced and aggressive trial lawyer really becomes helpful.

Self Defense. In Washington State, you have the right to defend yourself – so long as what you did was reasonable. This means that if someone is hurting you then the law may well allow you to hurt them back. As long as a Jury finds that what you did was reasonable, Self Defense is a complete defense to the criminal charge. Also, if a Jury finds that you were acting in Self Defense, then you may be entitled to recover attorney’s fees and other out of pocket expenses that you incurred by defending yourself.

Burden of Proof. This is by far the most common defense in all of criminal law. Basically, you are requiring the Prosecutor to prove his or her case. It is sometimes surprising just how often they are unable to do this.

Witnesses failing to appear at trial

Crawford v. Washington, 541 U.S. 36, 124 S.Ct. 1354, 158 L.Ed.2d 177 (2004). In Crawford, the United States Supreme Court held that, under the Confrontation Clause of the Sixth

The reality of Criminal Law is that negotiations do not become the most productive until right before trial. This can mean the day or two before trial or it can mean the morning of trial. Setting a case for trial does not always mean that there will be a trial but it does mean that both the Prosecutor and the Defendant have incentive to work on a negotiated settlement.

Stipulated Orders of Continuance / Pre-Trial Diversion Agreements

These are contracts, nothing more. You make an agreement with the Prosecutor’s Office to do (and not do) certain things, like entering a Domestic Violence Treatment Program and stay out of trouble. If you comply with the contract, the case is dismissed.

Reduced Charge

It is often possible to get a Domestic Violence charge re-filed as a different, less serious, charge. The factors involved are: the facts of the current case, the Defendant’s criminal history, and the position of the alleged victim. Examples of reduced charges are: Disorderly Conduct or Simple Assault without the DV tag.

  • Only the State can bring criminal charges. With any criminal charge, including Domestic Violence, only the State can bring the charge – not the alleged victim in your case. This means that even if the person labeled “victim” wants the No Contact Order or the entire case to simply go away, they don’t have the power to dismiss it; only the Prosecutor does
  • Joint Bank Accounts. Be aware that some Victims Advocates are advising alleged victims to drain joint bank accounts. This advice leaves Defendants in the impossible position of becoming suddenly homeless due to the no contact order and penniless.
  • Gun Rights. Conviction for a crime labeled Domestic Violence will forfeit your rights to own or possess firearm for the rest of your life. This is true even in cases where no gun was used, threatened, mentioned or even owned by the defendant.

Conclusion

Because of the nature of Domestic Violence charges, you need to find an attorney that understands the complexity of these charges and what you can do about them. If you have questions specific to your case, please give me a call. I do not charge money for an initial consultation and I can answer many questions over the phone or via email.

Copyright © The Cahoon Law Office – All Rights Reserved.

Feminist ‘Greater Good’ Legislation Gave Rise to the Divorce and Domestic Violence Industry

Feminist-backed ‘greater good’ legislation has produced unjust ‘excuses’ for courts to deprive fathers and other men of their constitutional rights and protections while privileging and benefiting women. This legislation has produced an enormous court order-based industry – the divorce and domestic violence industry (DDVI) – that funds itself through extorting fit fathers and taxpayers. It’s a parasitic cadre of benefactors.

‘Greater good’ legislation effectively denies the inalienable rights – our constitutional rights – for which the U.S. was formed to secure for each of us. Feminists and women’s rights organization have propagandized the need for ‘greater good’ legal excuses under commendable-sounding reasons. They fraudulently suppress the tyrannical denial of rights of fathers and men that it produces. These ‘excuses’ are unconstitutional since securing our individual rights is the ‘greater good’ – the only one – and because their operation negates constitutional protections and maxims of law by which those rights are protected.

Two ‘greater good’ excuses are the safety of women’s ‘abuse excuse’ and the ‘best interest of the child excuse’. The unconstitutional court processes engendered by these excuses grant to women an enormous incentive to file for divorce or paternity to both eliminate fit fathers while extorting money from them for years.

These ‘excuses’ privilege a woman by allowing her – through court orders – to:

* falsely accuse and restrain a father from his house and children at her whim

* get custody of his children despite the father being a fit and loving parent

* receive at least half and, generally, much more of the marital assets, and

* receive what is euphemistically called ‘child support’ payments from the father every week for up to 23 years for however she wishes to spend them.

A mammoth state-participating cadre of benefactors makes up the DDVI, each seeking their benefits and fees that unjust court-orders so easily supply them. They close their eyes to the clear denial of a fit father’s parental rights, his enslavement under extortion that state-kidnapping of his children brings, mother’s alienation of his children and the defaming of him by protecting woman’s ability to falsely accuse him. And who are these benefactors and special interest groups of the DDVI?

Here are just a few:

-Mothers who don’t equally share or alternate full custody with fit fathers but extort the euphemistic child support payments and alimony from them and alienate his children. They commit true child abuse. This is where it all starts.

-Family Court Judges who daily ignore constitutional protections and deny fit fathers their children; then conspire with the Revenue Departments to support themselves illegally by ordering ever larger child support amounts; amass large amounts of political power by rewarding their buddies with GAL appointments, and then get jobs after they retire with GAL provider firms. They are the lynchpin upon which this tyranny depends.

-Lawyers who perpetuate bad divorce laws for the gravy train fees they get. They push for antagonism between father and mother for more fees.

-GALs and their provider umbrella firms, who now make $250/ hr by court appointment with full immunity for writing up ‘hearsay’ reports that always find problems with fathers.

-Parent Coordinators, Family service, and Probation officers who keep their jobs by perpetuating the system by enforcing the anti-father feminist jurisprudence.

-Psychologists who serve as GALs and feed off psychological damage a father and his children suffer under the present divorce system – without advocating change.

-Women’s (changed now to ‘victims’) advocates who all judges know to be women’s advocates and advise women how to plead their case; who monitor judges’ behavior and any anti-women (pro-father) decisions to expose an anti-women judge.

-Mental health evaluation clinics where men in divorce are deemed angry about being tyrannized – and then punished for it!

-Visitation centers for men to see their children for $50+ per hour when they have never committed any act that a reasonable person would consider ‘actionable’ abuse if any at all.

-Prisons who profit by increasing population of father and men due to unjust restraining order laws and child support laws both of which are implemented without constitutional due process.

The VAWA (the Violence Against Women Act) AntiFather Cadre consist in part of:

-Batterers groups instituted only for men -and paid by men to attend -under court order, -none for women who have repeatedly shown to be equally violent or abusive as men.

-Battered women shelters obviously only for women who advise women how to get an ‘effective’ divorce with trumped up abuse allegations

-Parent Education Program and Anger Management Providers who have a mandatory and monopolistic business by court order – which fathers must attend for sure, but not mothers.

-Social service agencies like Department of Social Services that tells mothers that if they don’t get a restraining order against fathers, then DSS will take over custody of children!

-Abuse training, helping, and awareness organizations that train police and counsel judges how all men are in denial if they don’t admit their abusive, and who write rules and legislative laws on domestic violence that are directed against men.

-State prosecuting agencies that receive extra funds for their domestic violence program and follow the present paradigm that the problem is always the man’s propagandized ‘natural’ abusiveness.

-State and Federal Revenue/Child Support enforcement Agencies who receive federal money in proportion to the amount of child support that is ordered by Courts which courts in turn get paid by state revenues – a clearly unconstitutional relationship.

-Child support collectors who make mega-bucks pursuing and persecuting mainly fathers. Anyone can be a bounty hunter.

-Colleges & Universities like Wellesley College in Wellesley, MA which create pseudo-scientific psychological analyses and clearly fraudulent court evaluation studies on how women are abused by the Court system in direct contradiction to the fact that every day in court is “mother’s day”

-Police who increase their budgets and keep their jobs by persecuting mostly fathers/families by executing arrest warrants and the like, including by the recent federal “law enforcement” sweep, not for terrorists, but for persecuted fathers

The DDVI depends on extorting fit fathers and taxpayers for their daily bread. Their political power allows them to fraudulently propagandize their ‘phony need’ while hiding the injustice. They keep the tyranny against fathers in place.

Restrictions of Domestic Violence Protective Orders

Domestic violence is an issue that plagues families throughout the country. It is not exclusive to people who are married or in relationships. If can affect all members of a family, including children. In Florida, domestic violence is considered any assault or battery that results in injury to a family member or another person living in the household.

The Sunshine State has several laws in place designed to shield and protect people from domestic violence. Although it cannot be stopped entirely, the goal is to decrease the number of families and people who are victim to the abuse. One possible way is through a domestic violence protective order.

Protective orders are designed to limit the interaction one person has with another, whether that is physical contact or any sort of interaction. The orders are supposed to keep people safe from another, but domestic violence protective orders can be complicated.

A person can file for a protective order if he or she has been the victim of domestic violence or if there is the fear he or she might become a victim. For instance, if a spouse says he or she will harm the other person or that person’s family, a protective order could be issued.

To obtain a protective order, a person first must petition to the court requesting the order be instated. The court will use several factors to determine whether the petitioner has reasonable cause to believe he or she is in danger, including the history between the two parties.

A court is likely to grant a protective order if there has been physical abuse, threats of abuse, threats of kidnapping or harming children, abuse or killing of a family pet or use of a weapon. Whether the respondent – the person the order is filed against -has stopped the other spouse from calling law enforcement also could be used as proof.

The domestic violence laws only apply if the respondent is the petitioner’s spouse, former spouse, related by blood or marriage, living with the petitioner now or has in the past lived as a family. The law also would apply if the person shares a child or children with the petitioner, whether or not they have been married or lived together.

In Florida, violating a protective order is a first-degree misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fee. A person can violate it in several different ways, including:

• Refusing to vacate the home, apartment or dwelling shared by both parties
• Being within 500 feet of the petitioner’s home, school, job, or any location specified as a place frequented by the petitioner, or a family member
• Committing an act of domestic violence against the petitioner
• Threatening by words or actions to harm the petitioner
• Intentionally communicating with the petitioner

Domestic Violence, Gender Discrimination

Personal Safety is a fundamental right of life – the right to live without fear of any harm or danger to you and your family, both immediate and extended. No one has the right to harm, abuse or threaten anyone else and a victim has the right to make a formal complaint and seek action against the offender.

“Domestic violence is any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (be it physical or emotional) between adults who are or have been in a relationship together, or between family members, regardless of gender or sexuality. The types of behavior frequently encountered in domestic violence are physical attacks, sexual attacks, psychological abuse, and the destruction of property or pets”.

Domestic Violence and abuse “consists of acts committed in the context of an adult intimate relationship. Domestic violence is purposeful and instrumental behavior directed at achieving compliance from, or control over the abused party”.

It is one of the most under-reported crimes worldwide and occurs across all strata of society. Although statistics and analytical figures point that domestic abuse consists mainly of violence by men against women, it is not restricted to these circumstances. In some cases men too are abused by their partners. However, it is shocking that globally domestic violence accounts for 16% of all violent crimes and 77% of victims are women. It is equally shocking to read that most victims have suffered repeated abuse and continue enduring physical violence for several years before they make a formal complaint. Unfortunately, in most cases, children are at the receiving end of abuse within homes. It is also equally relevant here to note that most women do not report violence or abuse for fear of harassment to their children.

Domestic violence in homes occurs if a spouse is being subjected to abuse by current or former spouse, parent or child. Even if a person is harassed, threatened, stalked, beaten, freedom of movement restrained, or property destroyed; then all these too constitute domestic violence. A victim of domestic violence does not have to be in a marital or other relationship.

Attitudes that are reflected by society contribute greatly to domestic violence. Long held notions that a wife is the “property of a husband and he can do what he likes to keep her in check” have been the cause for delayed action in cases involving domestic violence. Adding to this already aggravating situation is the view that ‘domestic violence’ does not strictly come under the purview of ‘police investigation’. Archaic laws like “the rule of thumb” existed till very recent times.

Till the 1970s, most cases involving domestic violence were settled by mediation by third parties without achieving any desired results. Police response to domestic violence has a pathetic record globally.

Family Law guidelines view such violations seriously and advise victims on the action they need to take and also on what will happen once their application is received. It has also enforced the ‘right of protection to women irrespective of status’ as a constitutional fundamental right.

Several legal cases in the US and Europe have highlighted the plight of victims of domestic violence as well as landmark judgements that have been pronounced. Today, many police agencies adopt mandatory arrest policies enforcing the view that society should view domestic violence as a criminal offence. Only strict action and stringent punishment can provide safety and solace to victims of domestic violence.

In India’s context, it is relevant to sit up and take notice of the increasing number of incidents that are classified as “honour killing” in recent times. Thanks to media exposure, more numbers of incidents are highlighted and the world at large is witness to some gruesome crimes, which are horrifying to say the least. How could family, kith & kin kill another member of the family brutally just to avenge ‘honour’ and ‘status’? What is this mindset? Even the most expert of psychologists may have to delve deep into their knowledge and expertise to come up with plausible explanations and reasoning. For the record, murders are committed of girls who elope with boyfriends; or marry a man of their choice, outside of their own community or caste, against the parents’ wishes; or decide to have a harmless cup of coffee or an ice cream with a classmate of the opposite gender.

Some of these violent crimes are aided and abetted by so-called communal and religious bodies, obviously with backing from some political party that they pledge allegiance to. One such agency took upon itself to “marry off” any two people of the opposite sex who were seen out in the open on Valentine’s Day. Utterly shameless and perverted thinking of the worst kind. Another local administrative body suggests that girls ‘must be’ married off at the age of 15 and boys at the age of 18 to prevent them going ‘astray’ and indulging in shameful activity. A minister went on national television to say that ‘governance cannot trample and set laws that oppose traditional beliefs and mindsets’. What a myopic and absolutely shameful viewpoint!!! Such negative trends will have far reaching consequences on a society’s growth and development. Elsewhere, governments are providing incentives to families to educate girl children because it is not believed without reason, that if you “educate and liberate a woman with knowledge and confidence, you are educating and liberating a family”. Females of any species have that innate ability to strive and overcome obstacles especially when it comes to protecting and providing for the wellbeing of their families. Perhaps nature’s design is not without purpose because every family, even in the poorest of villages across India, that has a literate girl child has seen innumerable benefits being absorbed into their lives in many ways.

Another obvious example of the success of women’s liberation is the micro financing schemes introduced in Third World economies which is ample proof of what women can achieve for themselves, and in turn their families, if they are given the right opportunities and assistance. This success has been a lifeline for millions of families around the globe transforming communities and towns into hives of action and sustenance fuelled by women, cutting across language, regional, religious and communal barriers.

There are huge implications from these positive results and vast lessons for the rest of the world to learn. Hopefully, now that the transformation has arrived, it will evolve to engulf the whole world.

And we may as yet live to see gender biases and discrimination a thing of the past. Long live women power!!

Getting Knowledge on State Domestic Violence Laws

Laws for domestic violence can be very restrictive or lenient in the state you reside, so a consultation with a family law attorney may be a wise choice. A majority of states have strict laws prohibiting such acts and have laws in place to protect women of domestic violence. The former couples involved in a domestic violence situation may be married, recently divorced, straight, gay, lesbian, living together, going out or not together anymore. Additional involvements may also exist and need to be talked over with a family law lawyer or law enforcement official.

Domestic violence may include verbal abuse, significant other from contacting family, friends, not sharing money, preventing a spouse from getting a job, making a spouse get fired from their job, physical abuse, threatening remarks, sexual assault, following, intimidation, etc. Any questions about what is considered domestic violence should be directed to an attorney or law enforcement official.

There are several hotlines and safe havens that exist for victims of domestic violence, so knowing this is available is very important. The National Domestic Violence National Phone line is among the resources victims should be privy to. The number is located in your local yellow pages. Browsing online is a great way to learn more about domestic abuse resources. Contact an experienced family law lawyer or law enforcement official for extensive information and resources.

An emergency protective order (EPO) may be obtained that according to local law strictly limits the accused from contacting or within a certain amount of feet near the victim. It may also grant custody of the kids (if applicable) to the victim or someone with whom they will be in a protective environment. When in immediate danger, victims should contact 911 instantly and tell the police officers what occurred once they arrive. The policeman may call an on-call court officer to give the EPO on the spot.

To be granted an EPO, the person in danger or his or her kids have to be in immediate and current life threatening situation of extreme violence. The order is valid for five court days or seven calendar days, whichever is less. Further information about an EPO can be obtained by talking to a family law laeyer or law enforcement officer.

To be approved for a temporary restraining order (TRO), the victim must file an application with the nearest family law court. If given, the TRO will be effective once the aggressor is served with papers. To find out more about TROs, victims should, once again, speak with an family law lawyer or a police officer or official deputy.

People affected by domestic violence can be of any gender, race, ethnic background, sexual orientation, age, etc. Knowing one’s resources and phoning the authorities if in immediate danger is important.