Prince William County Domestic Violence Investigations

While a person who is accused of committing domestic violence offenses typically has the same rights during an investigation as any person accused of any other offense, Prince William County domestic violence investigations have certain unique aspects to them. A person that is under inquiry could consult a seasoned defense attorney for advice.

Common Characteristics of a Domestic Violence Investigation

Once someone calls the police to report a domestic violence offense in Prince William County, the police will seek to respond promptly to the scene and typically issue a minimum of one charge against someone involved. Since the police may not wish people to think they could call 911 without consequences, officers might charge an individual even if the situation has calmed down. Once law enforcement has bothered to spend time and resources responding to a domestic violence claim, they typically do not let the matter go and leave without issuing a charge.

While on the scene, the police could take photographs of any visible injuries they observe and ask each party involved for a statement of what occured. If someone does not speak English, the Prince William County police may attempt to summon an officer to the scene who could translate. Authorities could alternatively put someone on the phone who could translate. The police might also record their own notes of their observations that may or may not lead to the creation of a formal incident report.

Officers could routinely request a magistrate judge to issue an emergency protective order between the accused and the alleged victim, even if the accused is not formally arrested and brought before the magistrate to set a bond pending trial. While this is typically the end of most Prince William County domestic violence investigations, there could be further information that was unclear at the time the police responded. This information may include the exact relationship or identifying information of the parties, their immigration statuses, witness accounts that were not available at the scene of what happened, and medical records that are generated from future treatment for injuries stemming from the case.

How Police Officers Could Determine the primary aggressor

There is typically no set formula for how a police officer chooses to determine the primary aggressor. The officer could consider factors that may include the nature of visible injuries on the parties, their comparative sizes and genders, their words and recollections, their behavior and demeanors, which party chose to call the police, any criminal history each party may have, and whether a third party has claimed to have observed who was the primary aggressor.

Differentiating Factors Between Domestic Violence Investigations and Other Criminal Investigations

Domestic violence investigations tend to be more sexist and paternalistic than normal investigations in terms of men being blamed more than women. Presumptive court orders could be issued throughout the pendency of the case forbidding contact even if no one has conclusively been proven guilty of any crime. In Prince William County, domestic violence investigations are typically treated more seriously than normal investigations for the same offenses. This could be attributed to law enforcement potentially fearing that there is a greater potential for more offenses to be committed in the immediate future given the access that family and household members may have to each other. Normal investigations may result in no charges being issued or could lead to everyone involved being charged. The number of people charged could be greater in other crimes than in domestic violence investigations.

Why Might a Defendant Feel as if they are Already Convicted?

A person could feel as if they are already convicted primarily because of protective orders. While certain court orders could be issued before the trial even takes place, they are based on a determination by the court that the accused may have committed the offenses and could commit more while the case is pending if they are not restrained. These determinations could be premature and may lead to drastic consequences for the accused, which could include being forced to reside outside of the household or not having interaction with people who may play important parts of their daily life.

While people may believe that courts should only order such serious consequences if they are fairly sure the person is guilty, the court system typically does not value the potential wrongful infringements on the accused’s life, liberty, and property through protective orders as much as it may need to. The courts and law enforcement may tend to adopt an overbroad concern for the future safety of the claimant since additional harm to them could draw negative attention to the local justice system by media, politicians, and activist groups.

Have an Attorney by your Side During Every Step of a Prince William County Domestic Violence Investigations

Since the case could become worse for the accused in every step of the domestic violence investigation in Prince William County, it could be important for the person to be represented by an experienced defense attorney throughout the process. Attorneys could actively look for opportunities to influence the evidence, arguments, and positions taken by the prosecution before trial in a way that could benefit the accused down the road whether there is a trial or not.