Prosecution of Domestic Violence in Virginia
To be convicted of a domestic violence charge in Virginia, the prosecutor has to prove each element of the crime which has been charged. Whether that is assault and battery, unlawful wounding, malicious wounding, abduction, strangulation, or something else, the prosecutor’s burden is to show beyond a reasonable doubt that each element of the charge defense has been proved. The prosecutor has to bring forward evidence to do that.
Facing prosecution of domestic violence in Virginia can be stressful without the help of a skilled domestic violence lawyer. A Virginia domestic violence lawyer can help clarify how local laws affect your case.
Prosecution of domestic violence in Virginia cases begin with an arrest by a police officer who brings evidence in front of the magistrate. The typical violence case is not going to be brought by a prosecutor. However, the more serious domestic violence cases often are brought at the direction of a prosecutor.
The process is that once an allegation is made, police will investigate. Once they have concluded their investigation, they will bring their evidence before a prosecutor who makes the determination about what charges, if any, are going to be brought. The stronger the evidence, the worst the injuries are. The worst the facts are, in general, the more likely a prosecutor is going to move forward and attempt to secure convictions on the charges they think can be proved.
Arguments the Defense Puts Forth So Clients Are Released After Arraignment
If a person is held without bail following their arrest, the attorney will have the opportunity to set a bond hearing to request the court to release their client. There are two primary things that are argued at a hearing where bail is requested. The first is that the person is not a flight risk and to prove, the attorney will mention things such as the individual not ever having failed to appear at court, their length of residency in the community, as well as their other ties to the area such as employment or family.
The other factor that is mentioned and that the court considers is whether they are a danger to themselves or others. Experienced counsel will bring all the best evidence and arguments to bear related to that issue depending on what the facts of the case are, as well as the history of the individual. Having no violent history is helpful, as well as being able to point out the positive characteristics of the accused and having witnesses who can attest to that may also be helpful.
In cases that are more serious, where there is a presumption against bail, there are a number of other factors for the court to consider such as the mental health of the individual, the physical health of the individual as well as a number of other things. This is one reason among many why it is important to have an experienced attorney to assist the person with their bail bond situation because being released is never a given.
Alleged Victims on the Stand
During the prosecution of domestic violence in Virginia, there are a number of benefits for putting an alleged victim on the stand. The first one is that the alleged victim, in many cases, has the best opportunity to observe what happened, to know what occurred, and to be able to describe that to either a judge or jury.
In addition, if that person has been injured or harmed in some way, it may play to the sympathies of the court and the jury to hear from that person, to understand what occurred from their perspective, to know what they were thinking while it happened, and to have an opportunity to empathize with the person for what the individual went through.
Domestic Violence Case Challenges
The difficulties from the defense side with the prosecutor putting the victim on the stand are that it can play on the emotions of the court or of the jury. It can cause either of them to view things in a light that is not as favorable to the defendant. The difficulty from prosecution of domestic violence in Virginia, however, is that victims are not always reliable witnesses. They do not always hold up well under cross-examination.
Experienced counsel cross-examining a victim may be able to show a judge or a jury that the individual is not telling the whole truth, that parts of the individual’s story do not make sense, or that the individual has not been truthful on other occasions. If successful, it can have the ability to completely or to some significant degree undermine the government’s case.
Relationships with the Local Prosecution
It is important to use a lawyer who has good relationships with local prosecutors because lawyers that have bad relationships with local prosecutors introduce risks and problems under their client’s cases that would not otherwise exist. When defense counsel is disliked by the prosecution, the prosecution is motivated in a way that it might not otherwise be. The prosecution of domestic violence in Virginia is more likely to be harsher and more aggressive with the defendant. It is important, even if the defense attorney and the prosecutor are not good friends or have a social relationship, that they always have a relationship that is cordial and that is one of respect.
Working with a Virginia Domestic Violence Lawyer
There are a number of approaches that lawyers take to defend someone facing prosecution of domestic violence in Virginia. The first thing that they do is sit down and listen to the person’s story. It is important to understand what occurred from the person’s perspective, what their biggest fears and concerns are, and what evidence may be helpful in the case.
From there, it is the lawyer’s job to evaluate the evidence that the government has, including the witness statements, the physical evidence, and any statements that have been made by the accused. Lawyers formulate the best tactics that they can to bring about the best result in the case.
In some cases, this means challenging the government’s evidence and having a trial to convince the court that a person is not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In other cases, it means building a mitigation phase to attempt to persuade a prosecutor or judge that a person is deserving of having their charge dismissed, reduced, or even in some cases, make the punishment lighter.