July 17, 2021 | Domestic Violence
Domestic violence charges can have long-term consequences, even if you are acquitted of all criminal charges. The courts treat allegations of domestic violence seriously. Therefore, you need to take these charges just as seriously.
Once law enforcement officers are involved, the victim cannot “drop” the charges. Instead, the prosecutor’s office decides whether to pursue criminal charges against the alleged perpetrator.
If the prosecutor moves forward with criminal charges for domestic violence, there are common tactics they may use to obtain a conviction.
Understanding some of the common tactics used by prosecutors can help you prepare your defense to domestic violence charges in Ohio.
Common Tactics Used by Prosecutors in Domestic Violence Cases
Below are five ways prosecutors obtain convictions in domestic violence cases:
1. Assume the Victim is Always Telling the Truth
Regardless of the holes in the victim’s story, the prosecutor always treats the victim as if they are the most honest person in the world. If the victim changes their story, the prosecutor argues that it is because the person was a victim and subjected to the trauma of the abuse. In other words, the abuse made the victim tell a different story.
If the victim sticks to their story, the prosecutor argues that the consistency in the story proves that what the victim is saying is true. Even if there are apparent problems with the story, the prosecutor argues the consistency outweighs any problems or doubts.
The assumption is that a victim would not lie about being a victim. However, we know that is not true. Individuals make false allegations of domestic abuse for numerous reasons.
2. The Perpetrator Always Lies
Just as they believe a victim never lies, prosecutors believe an alleged abuser always lies. Therefore, no matter what you say to the police officers or the prosecutor, you must be lying.
Your incentive to lie is the desire to avoid criminal penalties. Therefore, you cannot be trusted, regardless of the other facts in the case. Because domestic violence cases often come down to the victim’s word against the perpetrator’s word, the prosecutor argues that you will say anything to avoid being sent to jail.
Of course, this assumption is flawed on many levels, but jurors often believe a victim’s story without considering that the victim is lying. A talented prosecutor uses the public’s view of domestic violence and criminal behavior to attack your credibility.
3. A Criminal Record Means You Are Guilty
The prosecutor may use your criminal history to argue that you must be guilty of the current charges. Unfortunately, jurors often believe this argument and assume you are guilty now if you were guilty in the past.
The prosecutor is not permitted to use your past convictions as evidence of guilt for your current charges. However, a “slip of the tongue” in open court is all it takes to put the thought into the jurors’ heads. Of course, the judge can instruct the jurors to disregard the information, but the damage is done once they have heard the information.
4. Evidence Gained While You Are in Custody
If you remain in custody, all visitations and telephone calls are recorded. You are notified of the recordings, so the prosecutor can use anything you say against you in court. Unfortunately, many people forget they are being recorded and make statements that they would never make to the prosecutor or in court.
Never discuss your case or the victim while you are in custody. A good rule of thumb is never to discuss the case or the victim even when you are released on bail except with your criminal defense lawyer.
5. Protecting the Victim From Intimidation and Harassment
Prosecutors want to keep you from speaking to the victim because there could be a chance that you reconcile with the victim. The victim could then decide to recant their story or refuse to cooperate with the prosecutor.
Therefore, prosecutors often request the judge to issue a “no-contact order” as part of your bail. After that, you cannot contact the victim at all. If you do, you will go back to jail pending your trial. The prosecutor will then use your violation of the no-contact order as “evidence” that you were harassing or intimidating the victim.
Even the Playing Field in a Domestic Violence Case
Prosecutors are highly trained litigators. Going up against them in court without an attorney puts you at a significant disadvantage. Even if you do not go to trial, dealing with an experienced prosecutor on your own can result in a less than desirable outcome.