Domestic violence is a huge problem in our society. There is no good excuse for violence toward family members, and this is why the law treats the problem harshly. For example, many police departments, including the Milwaukee Police Department, have a policy of arresting one of the parties any time the department receives a call for assistance due to domestic violence. The reason for the policy is obvious. The parties need to be separated. Additionally, a conviction for battery or disorderly conduct under circumstances of domestic violence may affect a person's right to possess a firearm. Not to mention the fact that domestic violence frequently leads to restraining orders and divorce.
The Milwaukee County Circuit Court devotes two branches of the court to hear nothing but domestic violence cases. These two courts have huge case loads.
The response of law enforcement and of the courts to the domestic violence problem has created two well-known consequences: (1) unscrupulous people know that they can gain the upper hand in any dispute by making a false claim of domestic violence (i.e. the other party-- usually the man-- will be arrested); and (2) most cases in domestic violence court are set for trial, and then upwards of 85% of the cases end up being dismissed because the alleged victim fails to appear.
If you are charged with domestic violence, here are the three things you should do:
Stay away from your significant other. Most times, after being arrested and charged with domestic violence, the defendant is released from jail. In every case it will be a condition of bond that the defendant have no contact with the alleged victim. There is a strong temptation, though, to go back home. The defendant may have no place else to go; and the other party may be begging the defendant to come home. You must resist this temptation. As mentioned above, if the alleged victim fails to appear in court, many times the judge will dismiss the case. This is because the State cannot proceed without the victim's testimony. However, if you have contact with the alleged victim, you may be charged with bail jumping and witness intimidation. The crime of witness intimidation is committed by one who attempts to persuade a witness to not testify (i.e. you commit this crime by merely suggesting that the alleged victim not come to court) The State does not necessarily need the victim's cooperation to prosecute either of these crimes. It is a very common occurrence for the domestic violence charges to be dismissed, but the defendant ends up being convicted of serious criminal charges because he had illegal contact with the victim. Do not make your situation worse. Have no contact with the alleged victim.
Hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. As mentioned, most people know that if the case is set for trial it will very likely end up as a dismissal. Consequently, the defendant believes he can save money by defending himself. This is a mistake. You should immediately hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. Firstly, an attorney is permitted to have contact with the alleged victim. If it is true that the victim no longer wants the no-contact order, defense counsel can make a motion to modify the conditions of bond to allow no violent contact. Secondly, if the victim does appear for trial, it will be too late for the defendant to tell the judge that he wants a criminal defense lawyer. The court may very likely hold that the defendant has waived the right to counsel, and require the trial to proceed. There is very little chance that an unrepresented individual will be acquitted at trial.
Enroll in anger management or similar domestic violence classes. If you do have a problem with domestic violence, then it is very important that you immediately enroll in counseling. The judges in Milwaukee County are unlikely to modify the no-contact order-- even if the victim demands it-- unless the defendant is in DV counseling. The fact that you enroll in such counseling is not admissible as an admission of guilt at trial. On the other hand, if you are convicted of a domestic violence related offense, the fact that you have enrolled in counseling will go a long way toward convincing the court that you take the situation seriously, and you do not need to be sentenced to jail.
Domestic violence charges do not have to end up being a life-changing catastrophe. Many times, the allegation are relatively minor; but it is not unusual for the defendant to make matters much worse by not taking the charges seriously. Do not be that person. Follow these suggesions, and you will minimize the long-range consequences of the charges.
Milwaukee criminal defense attorney Jeffrey W. Jensen, of the Law Offices of Jeffrey W. Jensen, a Milwaukee law firm with offices located at 735 W. Wisconsin Avenue, Twelfth Floor, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, has represented persons throughout the State of Wisconsin. If you will face felony charges in either state court or in federal court you should call 414.224.9484. Attorney Jensen regularly appears in Milwaukee County (Milwaukee criminal defense lawyer), Waukesha County (Waukesha criminal defense lawyer, Brookfield criminal defense lawyer), Washington County (West Bend and Germantown criminal defense lawyer), Racine County (Racine criminal defense lawyer), Kenosha County (Kenosha criminal defense lawyer), Brown County (Green Bay criminal defense lawyer), Fond du Lac County (Fond du Lac criminal defense lawyer), and Winnebago County (Oshkosh criminal defense lawyer)
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