Once police arrive after receiving a domestic violence or domestic abuse call it is likely that someone is going to get arrested and be removed from the home. Even if the person who made the complaint does not want charges to be filed, a police investigation will follow and a prosecutor will make a decision about criminal charges. The consequences of being placed into the criminal legal system can be extremely serious. To protect your rights, your employment, and your freedom, here are some things to remember.
- remain silent
- remain civil to the police
- contact an experienced criminal attorney immediately
- gather evidence that supports your innocence, self-defense, or other legal defense
- cooperate and follow the rules or requirements of any educational, counseling, or diversion program
- make or sign any written statement without the advice of an attorney
- lie to police
- say anything on a jail phone that could be used against you
- violate any bond conditions or conditions of release
- panic and try to remain calm
If you have been accused of domestic violence, it is important to remember your right to remain silent. In order to invoke or claim this right, it also is important that you say, “I want to invoke my right to remain silent,” rather than just not answering. By saying out loud that you wish to claim your right to remain silent, you are on the record as affirmatively claiming your right.
While it may be difficult, remaining civil to the police is in your best interest. Making the police angry or insulting them will not help your case. Remember that your actions and words will likely show up in a report, so make sure you are not hurting yourself by what you do or say.
Criminal charges are a serious matter. They can affect your freedom, your job, your ability to make a living and obtain employment in the future, as well as other matters in your life and the lives of your family members. An experienced attorney will ensure that evidence in your favor is gathered and investigated as soon as possible, while the matter is still fresh. Your attorney can bring evidence to the attention of police and prosecutors to help make sure that you are not overcharged and reduce the chances you will be charged when you are innocent.
Do work with your attorney to collect evidence that supports your side of the events that led up to the domestic violence charges. Your attorney will explain the law related to the charges against you and explain the types of evidence that will be helpful to your case. Your cooperation with your attorney is essential to obtaining the most favorable result in your case.
Do cooperate and follow the rules or requirements of any educational, counseling, or diversion program
If you are offered an alternative to jail time, such as an anger management program, counseling, or other diversion program, it is important that you cooperate with the rules or requirements of the program. Privileges to participate in these types of program are typically revoked if a program participant fails to cooperate with the requirements that were set out for the participant.
Do not allow anyone to badger or bully you into making or signing a written statement. You do not have to give a verbal or written statement to police, regardless of the reason for your arrest. If you start to make a statement, you can change your mind and stop at any point. Remember that any statement you choose to make can be used against you at a later time. An experienced criminal law attorney can help you avoid the pitfalls that can be involved in being interrogated alone by police or prosecutors.
You have a right to remain silent and you should exercise that right. However, if you talk to police or an investigator, do not lie. It is a crime to give false information to a police officer, and it is unnecessary and it undoubtedly will increase the level of the current problem. Remember, even if you have been persuaded to start talking, you have the right to stop talking at any time.
Jail phones are not private. Jails often have sophisticated telephone monitoring systems that record all telephone calls. While these systems may give a warning that calls are not private, someone who has been arrested—often for the first time ever— may be emotionally upset and say things that he or she would not normally say.
An individual who has been arrested will often have a hearing before a judge prior to being released. At the hearing, the judge typically sets bail and sets conditions for release. It is important to follow any conditions that are imposed for release, which may include not having contact with the alleged victim, not returning to the home where the incident giving rise to the arrest happened, not possessing weapons, or other restrictions that may be tailored to the nature of the alleged offense.
Do not panic and try to remain as calm as possible. Remember that you have the right to be treated fairly and with respect by the police. Contact an experienced attorney to get instructions on what you should do next to protect yourself and your rights.
Domestic violence charges can have a serious effect on your current and future employment options, as well as your family situation. If you are facing domestic violence charges, you need to take steps to protect your rights and your freedom. The criminal court system can be complicated and intimidating, so it is important get help from an experienced criminal law attorney who can fight for your rights and help you move forward with your life.