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Tips for Fighting Domestic Violence Charges During COVID-19
During these past several months of quarantine, as couples and families have struggled to cope with a whole host of problems stemming from COVID-19, such as unexpected job loss, financial uncertainty, substance abuse, anger and soaring stress levels, states across the country have seen an increase in domestic violence calls, allegations and arrests. Unfortunately, these risk factors for abuse were further exacerbated by the government-mandated stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, which essentially forced abuse victims to isolate themselves at home with their abusers. Even as the stay-at-home orders are lifted and states slowly begin to reopen and go back to business as usual, domestic violence remains an issue, for both potential victims and the falsely accused. If you have been arrested or accused of domestic violence during COVID-19, it is important that you speak to an experienced domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible. With a reputable defense lawyer on your side, you can challenge the domestic violence charges against you and ensure that your case is as sound as possible.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence?
Each state has its own laws prohibiting acts of domestic violence, a criminal offense that, generally defined, involves any act of violence or abuse that takes place in a domestic setting, such as a family or household. Some states have separate criminal statutes that deal exclusively with domestic violence crimes, while others penalize domestic violence under their assault and battery or other statutes. California, for instance, has a number of statutes that cover domestic violence offenses, including Penal Code § 273.5 PC (Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Inhabitant) and Penal Code § 243(e)(1) PC (Domestic Battery). In Utah, on the other hand, “any criminal offense involving violence or physical harm or threat of violence or physical harm, or any attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit a criminal offense involving violence or physical harm” is considered domestic violence, when the offense is committed by one family or household member against another (Utah Code § 77-36-1).
What to Do if You are Facing Domestic Violence Charges
Allegations of domestic violence are taken extremely seriously by law enforcement officials and prosecutors alike. This is especially true during the COVID-19 pandemic, when police departments across the country are seeing an uptick in domestic violence calls and allegations due to the quarantine and isolation measures put in place to slow the spread of the virus. Due to increased vigilance on the part of law enforcement officers and enhanced efforts to quickly and efficiently respond to domestic violence claims during the coronavirus pandemic, innocent individuals may find themselves facing domestic violence charges because of a simple misunderstanding or exaggeration on the part of their spouse, partner, family member or household member. The following are some tips for fighting domestic violence charges during COVID-19:
- Exercise Your Civil Rights
Being arrested for a domestic violence-related crime can be frightening and confusing, especially if you are innocent of the charges. No matter what crime you have been accused of committing, it is imperative that you exercise your civil rights upon arrest. As with any other criminal offense, you have the right to remain silent if you are under arrest for domestic violence and it is in your best interest to exercise this right every step of the way. Until you can speak to your attorney, you should avoid making any statements to the arresting officers, communicating with your accuser or, once you are in custody, answering any questions the police ask you, even if you know you didn’t do anything wrong. No matter what they tell you, the police are not on your side, and anything you say to them could end up being used against you.
The one person you can guarantee is on your side for the duration of your criminal case is your defense attorney. That is why you want to make sure you choose an attorney who has extensive experience representing clients accused of domestic violence, so you know that your case is in good hands. Our attorneys are working hard to protect the rights and best interests of our clients during the COVID-19 pandemic and we can help you get the best possible outcome in your case. We have been paying close attention to the increasing trend of domestic violence stemming from the coronavirus quarantine and we are prepared to help you challenge unfair claims of abuse or remedy the situation if your anger or stress got the best of you.
- Gather Evidence that Could Help with Your Case
In the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, civil and criminal courts across the country were shut down to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and many criminal cases were put on hold as a result. However, as COVID-19 restrictions begin to be lifted, courts in many states are reopening and criminal cases will continue to be scheduled and heard in accordance with normal practices. When it comes to building a strong defense in your criminal case, your attorney will handle the bulk of the investigation and research, but you can do your part by gathering any evidence that may be pertinent to your case. This may include any of the following: any recollections and thoughts you have about the alleged domestic violence incident or the circumstances surrounding your arrest, any communication between you and your accuser (i.e. text or email conversations, voicemails, etc.), or any social media photos, videos or comments.
- Comply with All Terms Set Forth in the Protective Order
One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself when facing charges for domestic violence is to comply with the terms of the protective order. In many cases, a domestic violence arrest is accompanied by a court order that prohibits the alleged abuser from contacting or going near the alleged victim. If you have been arrested for domestic violence and you live with your accuser, you may even be required to leave your home, regardless of any COVID-19-related restrictions on movement. Keep in mind that, in many states, violating a protective order is a crime in and of itself, which means you could face additional criminal charges if you violate the order.
- Consider Counseling or Treatment
Depending on the nature and severity of the domestic violence charges against you, you may qualify for probation. This is usually accompanied by the requirement that you complete a court-approved program, such as substance abuse counseling, anger management or a batterer’s intervention program. If your lawyer thinks it could help your case, you may even get started on a counseling or treatment regimen before the court orders one. This could work in your favor by showing the court that you are taking the allegations against you seriously.
Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney During COVID-19
In times like these, when the entire country is reeling from the COVID-19 outbreak, you may find it more difficult than usual to get the help you need. And you do need the help of a criminal defense attorney when facing domestic violence charges. That is why we are doing everything we can to provide a variety of options during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, to ensure that those falsely accused of domestic violence have continued access to reliable legal advice and skilled representation. A conviction for domestic violence can result in serious consequences, possibly including jail time, substantial fines and other penalties, not to mention a possible loss of child custody and certain civil rights, such as the right to possess a firearm. If your spouse, dating partner or family or household member has accused you of committing an act of domestic violence against them, no matter how minor the allegations may seem, chances are that person has already told their side of the story to the police and may even have an attorney to represent them. The best way to protect yourself against these charges is to hire your own attorney and prepare yourself for what could be a complicated case.
Contact Our Top-Rated Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers
Domestic violence is not something that should ever be taken lightly. Victims of domestic violence deserve to seek justice against their abusers. However, not all claims of domestic violence are legitimate. Plenty of domestic violence cases are based on false claims and false claims of abuse tend to occur more frequently during times of heightened stress, like we have seen with the COVID-19 crisis. If you have been the target of a false or exaggerated domestic violence complaint, you need a defense lawyer on your side who can protect your legal rights and guide you towards a satisfactory resolution. Depending on the facts of your case, a skilled attorney may be able to get the domestic violence charges dismissed or at least reduced to a lesser offense, but when it comes to retaining legal counsel, time is of the essence. If you wait to hire an attorney, you could end up incriminating yourself or doing something to hurt your case.