Defending against a domestic charge can be tricky and it is important to choose a team you like and trust to help you through the process. Please give us a call and see if we would be a good fit for your case. Working a domestic case generally goes through two steps: mitigate then fight.
Crafting a defense against this type of charge can be county specific, but the following should help regardless of where you were charged. With any misdemeanor or felony domestic, the first thing you should do, after you find an attorney, is begin treatment. While these charges are often he-said, she-said in nature, the possible penalties associated with a conviction are terrible. For that reason, we always try to get charges substantially reduced or dismissed before we go to trial. Mitigation serves a few purposes. It never hurts to work on yourself, and showing the prosecutor and the Judge that you can succeed in counseling or classes can go a long way to getting your case reduced or convincing a Judge to give you a much lighter sentence.
Often these charges, whether they are true or not, come out of a night of drinking. If that is the case in your situation, you should seek out some substance abuse counseling and/or begin individualized counseling. We work with a couple of licensed substance abuse evaluators and are happy to facilitate your evaluation and treatment in that area. If you have health insurance, you can use this site to help you find a counselor near you that fits your insurance plan.
Any conviction under a domestic violence or attempted strangulation charge will require domestic violence treatment. This is generally offered as a weekly class that you must enroll in for six months to a year. Some providers allow you to start classes before you plead or are sentenced and we can help facilitate that as well.
The amount of treatment and mitigation you need to do in your case will be specific to the charges and facts. Please give us a call for a free consultation and we can help you set up a mitigation plan.
If mitigation does not work, you need to find an attorney that has experience and success litigating these charges at trial. There are many attorneys in Idaho that build practices off of mitigation work alone with no trial experience. If you consult with an attorney and they say they are "so good they never have to go to trial," they are lying. Some cases just need to be tried, and any good criminal defense attorney should be routinely doing so to make sure they are pushing the boundaries and getting the absolute best results for their clients.
- For Felonies:
In a felony domestic case, your first substantive hearing is called a preliminary hearing. Often that hearing is the decider for whether a case will resolve or go to trial. At the preliminary hearing, a defendant has the right to challenge the State's evidence and have a mini-trial. Your attorney will need to evaluate the evidence carefully before helping you decide whether to have this hearing or not. There are a few things we always consider before deciding when to start fighting a case:
- Victim Support -
- If the victim DOES NOT support the charges - we will often push the case forward to a preliminary hearing UNLESS the victim gave a statement to a doctor or a paramedic. If the victim does not show up to the preliminary hearing, the State may be forced to dismiss the charges. If, however, the victim gave a statement to a doctor or paramedic, that person can testify instead of the victim under the Idaho Rule of Evidence 803(4). Whether to have a hearing in that circumstance is a case-by-case decision and needs to be discussed with an attorney.
- If the victim DOES support the charges - we may take the case to a full preliminary hearing. Sometimes, however, we will give up the preliminary hearing because we do not want the victim testifying on the record early in the case. If the victim does testify at the preliminary hearing, and then does not show up to the later trial, their earlier preliminary hearing testimony may be used by the Prosecutor at trial. If we believe that the victim will withdraw support from the case over time, we may recommend waiving the preliminary hearing and then setting the case for trial at the District level. Again, this is an intensively strategic decision that must be made after review of the police reports and discussion with an experienced attorney.
- Nature of Injury -
- Especially in cases of attempted strangulation where there are no injuries, we would look to hire a medical expert to help support your defense.
- Substance Use -
- If substances were involved, often that is not a one-way-street and the victim was just as inebriated as the person charged. If this is the case, it is important to do research and use our private investigator to help see if the victim has any documented history of substance abuse issues. If so, that may be helpful in negotiating the case. Otherwise, use of substances at the time of an instance can be relevant to whether someone is correctly remembering what happened.
- Fabrication -
- If it is a case where the victim is fabricating the claims, we may want to push the case out a few months before moving forward with a preliminary hearing. The most difficult thing about lying is being consistent. A victim that is making up a story is often caught up in inconsistencies, and the longer we wait to have them testify after the reported incident, the more time they have to forget the exact details reported to police.
- We have an investigator that will interview any witnesses to the incident and attempt to do a follow-up interview of the victim. That interview is often critical to showing inconsistencies in their statement as well as judging whether the victim will be believable as a witness.
- For Misdemeanors:
Most of the advice above applies as well, but there is no right to a preliminary hearing in a misdemeanor case. Therefore, an investigator and aggressive attorney are even more important. You need access to as much evidence to support your defense as possible, and when you will not get the opportunity to challenge that evidence prior to a trial, you need a creative team to help you craft a defense.
Regardless of the level charged, these cases quickly get convoluted and untangling the truth takes experience and dedication. Please give us a call so you can see how our legal team can help you prepare a mitigation plan and defense to get you the best possible resolution of your case.