You may not have considered yourself a perpetrator of domestic violence until the police arrive at your house and arrest you. Unfortunately, many people do not understand that it is unacceptable to hit or push your wife/husband or girlfriend/boyfriend, or even threaten to do physical harm to them. Domestic violence occurs between straight and gay couples. In Massachusetts, police departments generally have zero tolerance for this type of behavior, and once called to your house will usually arrest you.
After you have been arrested, you may be able to make bail and get out, or you may spend the night at a police station or jail and be arraigned at court the next day court is in session. Usually you are unable to find a lawyer for the arraignment — the court will assign a lawyer for you to enter a plea and argue bail. A restraining order will issue, preventing you from returning home, and you will find yourself sleeping on a couch at a friend’s house, and returning to your home with the police to get your clothes and personal belongings.
Contact Virginia Lee immediately, criminal defense attorney
A domestic violence conviction has serious consequences.
Marital privilege for those who are married
Once your case goes to court, the victim does not have the right to decide how the case will be handled. Many victims decide that they would like the criminal case dismissed, but it is not their case, it is the Commonwealth’s case. The victim is likely to undergo pressure from the Victim Witness Advocate to testify and to not ask for the case to be dismissed. When the victim is your wife or husband, s/he can invoke the “marital privilege” to not testify against you. In that case, if there is no other evidence against you, the Assistant District Attorney (“ADA”) will dismiss your case. However, if you are not married, the ADA will send the victim a subpoena, which requires them to testify against you at court.
Of course there are domestic violence criminal cases where the victim is not truthful and the defendant has been falsely accused. Your attorney will work hard to reveal the truth and acquire a dismissal or not guilty verdict.
The victim is likely to acquire a restraining order for you to stay away from the victim and your house, and a condition of your bail will also include a stay away order. In many instances you will not be able to go home, and you will be looking to friends for a place to live during the pendency of your criminal case and restraining order.
Criminal Record and Immigration
A domestic violence conviction will become part of your record, and many employers will not consider you for employment. If married or a parent, your family life will be torn apart, and you will have to pick up the pieces. It may, depending on the facts and how the case is handled, affect your immigration status, including concerns for deportation and inadmissibility.
Stopping the Behavior
I accept domestic violence cases (where you committed some act of violence against the victim) if you are sincere in wanting to stop the behavior that got you arrested. For first time offenders I will work hard to acquire a dismissal for you. Attending therapy, counseling, and other programs will help your case in court. I will work with you to find therapists and programs to help you, and will speak with the victim if they want to speak with me. My goals are to acquire a dismissal for you, and to assist you in taking all necessary steps to prevent a recurrence.