An accusation of domestic violence or domestic assault might boil down to a “he said, she said” scenario. Your life shouldn’t end on someone else’s accusations, especially before you’ve been convicted in a court of law.
That’s why it’s often a great criminal defense tactic to be proactive and take action to prove your innocence, often with help from a criminal defense attorney with experience fighting for their clients accused of domestic assault.
Those fighting domestic violence allegations should consider:
- Filing a motion to dismiss the legal case from ever going to trial;
- Assembling character witnesses who will speak kindly and predictably on your behalf against the accusations; and
- Challenging alleged evidence by either disproving or preparing new evidence to present in court.
1. Dismissing a Legal Charge of Domestic Assault Before Trial
Before a Maryland court can dismiss a charge of domestic violence or domestic assault, you should have a good understanding of what that is, legally.
These acts may include:
- Outright assault;
- An act that places a person “in fear of or causes imminent serious bodily harm;”
- Committed or attempted rape or other sexual offense;
- Stalking or harassment; or
- False imprisonment, which may include interference with the alleged victim’s freedom or just straight kidnapping.
When facing domestic violence allegations, there are generally two options: You can either stand trial, or you can request to have the charges dismissed or thrown out.
- If the alleged victim isn’t pressing charges, then you may be able to file a motion – an official legal request to the court – if the prosecutor doubts there is enough evidence to prove that domestic violence occurred in court.
- You may choose a “plea of abeyance,” on advice of your legal counsel, which allows you to either plead guilty or no contest to the charges from the alleged victim, but would not have any specific type of judgment recorded against you.
For a plea of abeyance or any other type of plea bargain, often the prosecutor and your legal counsel will negotiate on behalf of the alleged victim and the defendant, respectively.
When negotiating with the opposing counsel, the goal of the defendant’s counsel is often to eliminate the charges as quickly as possible. In this way, the criminal defense lawyer can help their client avoid added expense and insulate their client against long-lasting repercussions that a criminal conviction can levy on an individual’s professional and personal life.
2. Assembling Character Witnesses to Defend Domestic Assault Allegations
If a plea bargain isn’t possible or your lawyer advises you to go to trial, then consider assembling an extensive list of possible character witnesses who might testify on your behalf against domestic violence or domestic assault charges.
Think of all the people who know you, personally and professionally. Consider:
- Family members
- Coworkers or professional colleagues
- Religious leaders, such as priests or rabbis
- Longstanding personal friends.
These people should have good reputations themselves and be willing to speak favorably about you in front of a courtroom.
Testifying in your favor doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll talk badly about the opposing party, of course. What you and your criminal defense team want to do is to highlight your good qualities and history to a neutral court.
3. Presenting Your Side of the Story During Domestic Assault Trials
In addition to the character witnesses, you and your criminal defense lawyer should plan to tell your side of the story. After all, these allegations are only the alleged victim’s perspective of what happened. Don’t let the prosecutor control the narrative with just one biased set of facts or assumptions.
With the help of your lawyer, you can review all the domestic violence or assault accusations with a fine-toothed comb, developing defenses against the prosecution’s charges and poking holes in their legal arguments. You and your legal team can also subpoena any documents or texts that could build your defense, and submit evidence to show your side of the story.
It may seem fairly straightforward, but just by putting up a fight, the prosecutor may be more willing to cut the trial short with a plea deal or even a dismissal of the charges. Or, you could just proceed to trial and present your facts and evidence to let a neutral judge or jury decide.
Bonus: Consider Help From a Domestic Assault Lawyer
Perhaps you think this situation can’t possibly happen to you. However, domestic assault charges are more common than you may have previously believed.
In just one month, Maryland courts heard more than 3,700 domestic violence cases.
Those convicted of domestic violence or assault face heavy fines, lengthy jail time, and impact your chances to keep your job or even file for custody or visitation of your child.
If someone accuses you of domestic violence, then you should act swiftly to stop the case before it begins. Consider contacting a law Firm with extensive experience defending criminal charges and seeing how they might approach your defense, and how they might preserve your life as you currently know it.
The criminal defense attorneys The Law Office of James E. Crawford, Jr. & Associates, LLC offers free first consultations to any potential client so you can quickly figure out how we might approach your pending domestic assault charges, what to expect during the process, and how much such defense may cost.
Let us know if we can help defend your rights and your freedom.