What Should I Do If I Get Arrested For Domestic Violence?
Getting arrested for domestic violence is one of the most disruptive moments anyone can experience. The word “domestic” says it all. This not only affects you, but it affects your “domestic” life, meaning that the crime you are arrested for affects those who are closest to you. This can often involve spouses, live-in partners, siblings, parents, and children. Either way, the parties involved not only know each other, but are most likely invested in each other emotionally. An arrest for domestic violence can tear apart families, drive a wedge in relationships, and drastically change everyone’s home-life for a significant period of time. If you, or someone you love, has been arrested for domestic violence in Volusia County, please read this article to get a better idea of what to expect in the very near future.Arrest
If you have been arrested for Volusia County for domestic violence, whatever you told the police at the time you were arrested will come back to haunt you. When the police arrive to a domestic violence situation, all parties tend to be emotional, and very rarely are people thinking clearly. No matter how emotional you are, you may always invoke your right to remain silent, and your right to an attorney. For more advice on your rights, please read my article entitled “What Do I Do If An Officer Wants to Question Me?” (LINK)
In a domestic violence arrest, there is always a “defendant” (the person arrested) and at least one “victim.” If the police respond to a domestic violence call, someone is going to get arrested, period. You will not be able to talk yourself out of it, so it is better to say absolutely nothing at all.
Having handled hundreds of domestic violence cases as both a prosecutor, and as a defense attorney, there are many situations where one party calls the police but does not want the other person to get arrested. No matter the reason for your call, if there is an on-going argument, someone is going to be arrested and taken to jail. The police will obtain a sworn statement from everyone involved. All statements by witnesses and victims are sworn, and while the story may change, whatever is written on the witness statement will be used as evidence against you in the case. If the victim writes a statement in anger, those words will also come back to haunt you.Body Camera Evidence
It is rare that an officer is present to actually witness a domestic battery. Most often, the police arrive after the battery has occurred and perform an investigation based on what they observe at the time they arrive. Most police agencies in Volusia County are now equipped with body camera videos. Any time an officer responds to a domestic violence call, those cameras are running and recording you and everything you say. In addition to your statements, the body camera will record your state of mind, your actions, and how you look at the time the police arrive. Body camera evidence is a double-edged-sword, it can help exonerate you (prove your innocence), or help the police prove that you were acting belligerent, aggressive, or angry, to support their case against you.First Appearances
When someone is arrested for domestic violence, they are held on a “No Bond” status until they go before a judge at a hearing called “First Appearances.” First Appearances in Volusia County are held at the Volusia County Branch Jail located at 1300 Red John Road, Daytona Beach, FL 32124, and for more information, you can call (386) 254-1555. First Appearances are held within twenty-four (24) hours after the arrest so the judge can determine probable cause for the arrest and determine conditions of release, including bond amount. This can be a very important hearing that will dictate your life for the next coming weeks, or even months. The judge will determine the amount of your bond, whether to place you on restricted release, whether to allow you to have contact with the victim, whether you can maintain firearms in your home, and other matters that directly affect your freedom going forward.
The victim is welcome to attend First Appearances and express to the Judge their thoughts on the conditions of release. Remember that all First Appearance proceedings are recorded, and any statement you make during that hearing will be used against you at a later time.
Most importantly, lawyers are welcome to attend First Appearances as well. It is always better to allow your attorney to speak on your behalf than for you to try to speak to the judge and accidentally say something incriminating. When I attend a First Appearance hearing on behalf of a client, I always try to make the release conditions as favorable for my client as possible because I am aware how difficult the next few weeks will be, and I do anything I can do to help make that time easier for my client.Pretrial Services
Because of the volatile nature of domestic violence cases, the Judge wants to allow the State to keep a close eye on the defendant while the case is pending. Therefore, in most situations, the Judge requires that the defendant report to Pretrial Services with conditions such as: no guns or firearms, no use of alcohol or drugs, random urinalysis, and no contact with the alleged victim. Failure to adhere to all of these rules will result in the Judge issuing a warrant for your arrest and the court can hold you in jail until the case is fully resolved.
If you have a “No Contact” order with the victim, your life can become very difficult. The Court wants to prevent you from being able to hurt the victim again, or influence the victim’s testimony, so the court places a “No Contact Order” on you to prevent any contact with the victim. If you are caught having contact with the victim, you can be put back in jail and held without bond. This is extremely difficult when the victim and the defendant are married and have children, or live together at the time of the arrest. I always advise my clients to turn off social media accounts, block the victim’s number from their phone. The victim does not have the same restrictions and can contact you. If you respond, you are going to be the one put in jail.
In many situations, I file motions for my clients to amend those conditions, or to get rid of them all together, to allow them to work and see their families. If you would like to discuss your options of having your conditions of Pretrial Services amended, contact my office today (386) 463-4LAW (4529), toll free (877) 934-4Law (4529), to discuss your case in a free consultation.Intake
There is a crucial stage of the criminal proceedings called “Intake.” This is the time period between when you are arrested and when formal charges are filed. This is the time where the most productive work can be done from a defense standpoint.
Most State Attorney’s Offices have a specialized unit who handle Domestic Violence Intake. There is a designated attorney, or attorneys, who review all domestic violence cases, speak to victims, and determine what charges to file. When a client hires my firm, we immediately make contact with the filing attorney to try to discuss the case with them before charges are filed. Remember, a police report is a document that is designed to get you arrested and designed to have charges filed against you. Without having an attorney, there will be no voice to share your side of the story. It is easier to prevent the train from running than stopping the train once it’s on the tracks.Lasting Effects
All arrests have lasting affects that can hinder you for the rest of your life, but none more than an arrest for domestic violence. Being arrested for domestic can prevent you from obtaining future employment opportunities, can cause you to lose professional licenses, and can even result in being evicted from your rental home. In addition, an arrest for domestic violence can cause you to lose your concealed weapons permit, or prevent you from obtaining one in the future.
At Thompson Law, we take into consideration the lasting effects and we take the responsibility of thinking about your future throughout the case. Having practiced criminal defense in Volusia County for over a decade, I have dealt with the domestic violence system as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. In most situations, getting arrested for domestic violence is the first time many of my clients have ever been arrested. If you are in this situation, you need someone to help you throughout this process, someone who can fight for you, someone who will listen to your personal situation, and someone who has the experience to help you think about your future while you are trying to put your life back together.
To set up a consultation and sit down with Attorney Matt Thompson to discuss your case for free, call (386) 463-4LAW (4529), or toll free at (877) 934-4LAW (4529).