Do's and Don'ts If Charged With Domestic Violence in Lynnwood
1. DO NOT violate the terms of the no contact order.
If you were arrested, taken to jail and saw a judge, you almost certainly have been ordered to not have contact with the victim in the matter. If the prosecutor or police find out you have had contact with the victim, your release could be revoked, you could be taken back to jail, and could be charged with a new crime. If the victim contacts you, it is best to hang up the phone and contact an attorney to assist in any necessary communications.
2. DO NOT talk to the police about your case.
You have the right to remain silent. You should exercise that right. The police are not on your side if you are the suspect in a domestic violence case. If the police contact you, do not talk to them. It is their job to say anything necessary to get an admission from you. Tell them you have nothing to say and contact an attorney immediately.
3. DO NOT try and defend yourself.
Many people who have not been charged with a crime before mistakenly believe they can clear the whole thing up by just going to court and telling the judge or prosecutor what happened. This is a potentially devastating mistake. The prosecutor is your adversary and is their job to convict you and even try and put you in jail.
They are not on your side. Anything you tell a prosecutor can be used against you later. Similarly, a judge will not listen to your side of the story. A judge will simply take a plea of guilty or not guilty. If a case goes to trial it is for the jury to decide what happened. You can face up to a year in jail on most domestic violence charges. You need a capable attorney to get your side of the story across.
4. DO NOT communicate with the victim through a third party or in writing or email.
Most no-contact orders prohibit any type of communication with the victim, including third party contact. This means you should not tell a friend to give the victim a message. That would be third party contact. Similarly, you should not send or email anything to the victim. This too is contact. In fact, third party and written or email contact is the easiest type of contact for the police or prosecutor to prove since there is a witness or paper or electronic trail of evidence for the authorities to follow. Instead you should contact a qualified attorney to assist with your situation.
5. DO NOT go to the address of the victim to obtain work items or basic necessities.
If you are restrained by a no-contact order, do not go to the residence of the victim to get your things, even if it is your home also. If you need to get your personal belongings, you need to have the court authorize a civil standby to retrieve your items.
6. DO take photos of any injuries you suffered.
If you are charged with a serious domestic violence assault, the police will likely have taken pictures of any injuries, red marks, cuts, abrasions, or bruising to the victim. Unfortunately the police usually do not go to the same trouble to document any injuries the suspect suffered. Have someone you trust take pictures of any injuries, torn clothing, or damaged property you suffered. These pictures could be very useful in negotiating with the prosecutor later or in asserting a self-defense claim.
7. DO take steps to protect your bank accounts and other finances.
If the victim is likely to be on your side in the matter, then this step is less important. If the victim is likely to be against you and you share finances, it is extremely important to take steps to secure the availability of funds to live on and defend yourself. Victim advocates and family law attorneys often advise victims to drain joint bank accounts, leaving the defendant in an impossible situation. It is important to make sure that you have access to funds in the months ahead in the case of a highly contested matter.
8. DO make notes about what happened that night.
By the time you see an attorney or you get to court, your memory may fade about exactly what happened during the incident in question. It is often advisable to write down what you remember happening as soon as possible. Do not let anyone see this writing, as the writing might be able to be used against you if it fell into the hands of the police or prosecutor. For that reason, it is advisable to write "Note for Attorney - Attorney-Client Privileged" somewhere at the top of the paper.
9. DO avoid using drugs or alcohol.
Often times drugs or alcohol are involved in a domestic violence case. If you had been drinking or using drugs when the incident occurred, it is best to stop using these items at once. You may be required to do a drug and alcohol evaluation at some point in the future. If this happens, you may be required to do less alcohol or drug treatment if you can tell the treatment provider you have not consumed these items since the incident.
10. DO contact a competent attorney at once.
Getting good legal help is the best step you can take in defending a domestic violence case. A good attorney can often negotiate a settlement of your case or even get the case dismissed without going to trial. Many domestic violence cases are very difficult for the prosecutor to prove. Victims are often on the side of the defendant by the time the case gets to trial.
A good defense attorney can take advantage of these facts and maximize the chances that your defense is successful. Call our firm today at (425) 224-7075 to put our experience on your side.
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