Police Officers Responding To A Domestic Violence Call Almost Always Make An Arrest
Interviewer: What happens during the domestic violence initial complication or a situation, will there always be an arrest, there’s no question on that?
Brett Hollett: If police are called out to the house or to an apartment or wherever you are, because somebody’s got into an argument, somebody’s claiming that somebody’s hit somebody or somebody did something, somebody’s going to jail if not both parties. There can also be cross complaints in a domestic violence case whereas, you know, she hits you, you hit her and you know both of you can end up going to jail. In a situation where a complaint comes from 2 or more opposing parties the officer will evaluate each complaint separately to determine who the primary aggressor was and the officer may not necessarily arrest the other person. The officer may consider: prior complaints, relative injuries, likelihood of future injuries and who may have acted in self-defense. Nonetheless, the officer may decide to arrest both parties which seems very weird and strange and it typically makes the prosecutor’s job a lot harder. Now, all of the sudden, you have two victims and two defendants in the same instance and so, a lot of times, it becomes much harder for the state to prove their cases when one defendant is also the victim. Even if an arrest is not made, the police officer will make a written report of the alleged incident, including a statement of the complaint and the disposition of the case.
Recanting of Domestic Violence Allegations is a Common Occurrence
Interviewer: Can an accuser, can they just drop the case, you know, and say “Hey, you know, I don’t want you to arrest him or her” or during the case, they speak to some lawyers and say “Hey, you know, I don’t want this to continue”, can that just simply happen?
Brett Hollett: Typically, an arrest is going still going to be made and then the case will go through the court system. A district attorney or city prosecutor will be assigned the case and will contact all of their witnesses and the victim. The victim can then make their desire not to proceed known to the prosecutors or DA. They can tell them that they no longer want to pursue the case and that they may or may not be willing to come testify in court.
The Ultimate Decision to Prosecute Someone for a Domestic Violence Charge Lies With the Prosecutor or the District Attorney
However, due to the nature of domestic violence offenses and the fact that these offenses are a lot of times related to controlling and intimidating type behaviors that once a case goes to court, it’s ultimately the state or the municipality’s decision whether or not they want to pursue the case and not necessarily the victim’s anymore. The victim can obviously share their opinion and tell them what their wishes are but at that point in time, the ultimate decision on whether to continue on with the case is going to be the prosecutor or the district attorney’s.
Diversionary Programs for Domestic Violence Offenders in Alabama
Interviewer: What sort of plea agreement may be offered for domestic violence case and what are some of the conditions of the plea agreement?
Brett Hollett: In some instances, there are diversion type programs for the misdemeanor type domestic violence cases, Domestic Violence 3rd Degree. The program typically require the consent of the victim and allow the defendant an opportunity to have his/her case dismissed or reduced. A defendant would be required to attend a certain number of anger management classes, parenting classes or other life skill classes. If the defendant successfully completed the classes and didn’t pick up any additional charges, the case may ultimately be dismissed.
Mandatory Programs Like Alcohol or Drug Counseling are Typically Not Imposed in Domestic Violence Cases
Interviewer: Are they going to provide or impose mandatory like drug counseling or alcohol counseling if that was the case?
Brett Hollett: No, not necessarily. It will be case and fact specific. I mean if they are arrested for additional charges such as DUI, public intoxication or drug possession, there may be some additional requirements.
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