Court Process in Domestic Violence Cases
The person who gets arrested is going to be searched, handcuffed, put in the back of a police vehicle, and taken to the police station or the jail. That person will be processed in with fingerprints, background checks, and issued a jail uniform. Though the rules say that the police can keep you in jail, the rules also say that they can’t keep you for long until you go before a judge.
Arraignment and The Initial Plea
The next time that court is in session, you will be brought before the judge, either in person or sometimes by video camera from the jail. The Judge is going to make sure that you know what you are being charged with, what your rights are, and will ask you whether you want to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. This is called your arraignment. This is not the time to argue the case, other than to say “not guilty.”
You will almost always want to plead “not guilty” at this stage of the proceedings, even if you think that the case against you is open and shut. You are no expert at predicting how a case is going to turn out, and as Shakespeare said, there are many a slip between the cup and the lip.
You can always change your plea later and no one will blame you for not pleading guilty at this point because even the prosecutor knows that you have the right to see the evidence against you and to ask your attorney or a court appointed attorney to help you understand your legal position and rights.
If you don’t have any money, then you likely qualify for a public defender. They will have you fill out some forms and one will be assigned to you. Even if you have lots of money, you probably don’t have any access to it, so you may still get the benefit of a public defender until you can get your own private attorney.
Bail in DV Cases
The next thing on the agenda at the arraignment is bail. The law recognizes that you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. But the law also recognizes that there are some folks, who, even though they are presumed innocent, they are either very dangerous, are a flight risk, or both. Bail then is a process by which the court has to size you up on those two factors. Are you a danger to society or any person out there in society, and are you a flight risk? Once the court makes that determination, the Court will set a number and that will be the amount of money you will have to post with the court in order to secure your freedom while the charges against you are pending.
The judge may set a number like $15,000.00. Unless you have read this work or have an insider’s view of the penal system, you are going to stress out because you just don’t have $15,000.00 under a pillow somewhere, and if you did, it would be earmarked for something very different than bail. But when the Court gives you that number for your bond, keep in mind that you only have to come up with 10% of it. So if you can lay your hands on $1,500.00 then you are halfway to being out. If the court sets your bail at $1,500.00, then you are going to have to come up with 10 percent of that, or $150.00.
Another way of doing it is to contact a bail bondsman and arrange for the bondsman to cover the bail. They charge a fee for this, but they are pretty efficient at what they do.
Conditions of Bond for a Domestic Violence Offense
If the judge does release you, he or she is going to impose certain conditions upon your release. We generally see three conditions that the Court will impose at this point. The first condition is most likely to be that you have no contact with the victim of the crime until the proceedings are over. This is called the stay away order and the judges are really serious about it. If you violate this order, you are likely going to spend more time in jail for doing that than for the actual DV.
A word or two further about the stay away order. This is the judge’s order, not the victim’s order. Thus if the victim calls you on the phone, if you take the call, you are in violation of the judge’s order. If the victim sends you a letter and invites you to meet with him or her at the home, if you go, you are in violation of the Court’s order. It is no defense that the victim invited the contact. The order is not the victim’s order. It is the judge’s order.
The second condition is often that you take no drugs or alcohol while you are out on bond. This is more likely if drugs or alcohol played an important part in the incident.
The third condition may be an ankle tracking bracelet. This will allow the court’s probation department personnel to monitor your movements and tell whether you have gone where you should not have gone. A lot of people get bent out of shape about this, but there are some advantages to it. If there is an undeniable record of where you are at every second of the day, all you have to do to stay out of trouble is to obey the judge’s order. If someone makes up some stuff about you being somewhere you weren’t supposed to be at 10:17 p.m. on Tuesday night, you have the perfect get-out-of-jail-free card. The police can just look at the ankle bracelet tracking data and see that the other person isn’t telling the truth.
Pre-Trial, Motion Hearings and Trial
Before your trial begins, the court will hold a pre-trial status conference. The status conference will take place after a request for discovery has been made, and will give you and your attorney a chance to review the state’s evidence against you. You will have the opportunity to discuss the evidence and offer any mitigating circumstances. At this point, it is possible to have the charges against you reduced, or possibly dropped. If, however, there are questions about any of the evidence, a motion hearing may be scheduled and the judge will make a ruling on the evidence. If there are no evidentiary issues, but the parties cannot resolve the matter at the pre-trial/status conference, the case may proceed to trial.
Joslyn Law Firm | Columbus Domestic Violence Lawyer
The court process in domestic violence cases can be confusing and arduous. It is important to have an experienced, trial proven criminal defense attorney working on your case. Attorney Brian Joslyn of the Joslyn Law Firm will work skillfully on each step of your case from arraignment to trial.
The team of attorneys at the Joslyn Law Firm have extensive experience representing clients with complex criminal charges. Even in the most challenging cases, the attorneys at the Joslyn Law Firm have achieved positive outcomes, including dismissal and not guilty verdicts.
If you would like the advice and representation of a qualified and dedicated attorney, call the Joslyn Law Firm at (614) 444-1900 or send an online message to schedule a free consultation.
Brian Joslyn represents individuals with domestic violence charges through Ohio, including Delaware County and the surrounding counties, including Pickaway County, Madison County, Franklin County, Licking County and Fairfield County.