Queens County Bar Association
Martindale Hubbell - Distinguished 2023

What Are Some Defense Strategies Used in Domestic Violence Cases?

In most situations, self-defense is not a good defense, particularly if the defendant is the male. Juries tend not to buy that. If the male defendant says he was only protecting himself from his wife, juries tend to not give much credence to that, rightly or wrongly. These cases are very, very difficult to try. In almost every case, it is far better to work out a disposition that leaves a defendant with no criminal history, and, if the parties agree, without an order of protection that breaks families apart.

The only cases you have a good chance of winning is when a complainant has refused to testify, and the District Attorney is relying on the complainant’s prior statements. In these cases, the People have to show that the prior accusatory statement was made in an excited state, usually as a 911 call. If the Court refuses to admit this hearsay statement, it is usually impossible for the District Attorney to make out a case.

What Are The Collateral Consequences Of A Domestic Violence Conviction?

First, domestic violence cases are somewhat different from other cases. When somebody is charged, and convicted of a domestic violence case, even something as small as a harassment charge, then there is going to be a record on file with the state registry which will, at a minimum, prevent you from working in child care. You want to be sure that you are not on that registry. A good attorney, in most cases, can work out a disposition that precludes that from happening. The other issues are similar to any other criminal case.

One of the biggest problems is a full order of protection. One of the big issues that I have with both district attorneys and courts is that everything seems to be determined by the fact that, every once in a while, some defendant who has been arrested is going to go crazy and commit a bad act against the complainant. Everything is gated to make sure that there is no contact between both parties until they are in full control. Instead of suggesting or mandating that the people have couples therapy and work out the problems, they concentrate on having the defendant attend programs that deal only with his issues, and in my mind, they are not very successful. They are very time-consuming and expensive and often, the District Attorney and the Court will not consent to allowing contact between the parties until treatment is completed, by which time the relationship may be hopelessly breached.

Why Is It Important To Retain An Experienced Attorney To Handle a Domestic Violence Case?

Domestic violence cases, technically, are no different than any other cases. However, they are handled in an entirely different way with an entirely different philosophy by district attorneys who are specialized in that field. A lawyer who is used to proceeding in a nondomestic violence case will find that these cases are handled very differently than non-domestic violence cases, and the things that you want to do for a successful resolution are very different. For instance, we talked about trying to get the case before the court as quickly as possible; that would be the exact opposite of what a criminal lawyer will do in non-domestic violence cases, because there are different circumstances.

In addition, you are dealing with different people, and attorneys who do many domestic violence cases tend to interact with the judges and district attorneys who handle these cases much more. They get to know them better, and know what they are looking for in order to resolve a case in a manner that is most satisfactory to the client. I would tell any person who is charged with a domestic violence charge to make sure that, first, the person that you retain is very experienced in domestic violence cases and, second, make sure that they are experienced in those cases in the county in which you are charged. In my case, almost all of the work I do in this field is in Queens County, so you might want to consider that when you are looking for an attorney for a case in Queens County.

For more information on Defense Strategies In Domestic Violence, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (718) 793-5700 today.

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