A Look at the Stages of a Domestic Violence Case

Under domestic violence laws in Ohio, individuals are prohibited from knowingly causing or attempting to cause physical harm to a household member or family member. Recklessly inflicting serious harm and threatening to carry out imminent physical harm are also violations of domestic violence laws. If you’ve been accused of domestic violence near the Columbus area, it’s imperative to get in touch with a defense attorney as soon as possible—even if you have not been formally charged yet.

Investigation and Arrest Domestic Violence

Domestic violence cases often begin with a 911 call made during a heated argument. It’s not unusual for alleged victims of domestic violence to embellish claims or completely falsify accusations. It’s also not unusual for these individuals to later recant their accusations and refuse to cooperate with the prosecutor. Nevertheless, a criminal defense attorney should be involved with the case from the start. During the initial investigation, the accused individual should be wary of making potentially self-incriminating statements. It’s important to behave reasonably and courteously during interactions with the police officers, especially if the initial investigation leads to an arrest.

Pre-Trial Hearings

After an arrest on charges of domestic violence, the first court appearance is the arraignment. During this appearance, the accused is formally advised of the charges against him or her. The accused is advised of certain legal rights and he or she will be asked to enter a plea of “guilty” or “not guilty”. A not guilty plea is advisable; this can always be changed later to a guilty plea in the event a plea bargain is accepted.

Plea Bargaining

After the domestic violence lawyer has had a chance to evaluate the case and the evidence against the defendant, he or she may engage in plea bargain negotiations with the prosecutor. A plea bargain is an agreement for the defendant to plead guilty in exchange for a promise of leniency or a reduced charge. The prosecutor is not obligated to extend a plea bargain, nor is the defendant obligated to accept one. However, if the alleged victim recants the accusations, this can prove valuable in negotiating a favorable outcome.

Trial

If a plea bargain is not offered or accepted, then the case will progress to a trial. During the trial, it is the role of the prosecutor to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense attorney does not need to prove innocence, only that there is a reasonable doubt of guilt.

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