Domestic Violence Cases Don’t Need a Box

One of my pet peeves as a Criminal Defense Attorney who often works on Domestic Violence (DV) cases is that may prosecutors want a one size fits all, or “Box,” to put my clients in.  This is certainly an easy way to treat these cases but overtly ignores the reality of how some of these cases arise.  To be sure there are many DV cases that involve defendants with power and control issues and the stereotypical victims that are caught up in the “cycle of domestic violence.” And it is also true that a big emphasis is placed on protecting victims of Domestic Violence, which frankly is a major improvement of the “hear no evil, see no evil” approach that was favored in the past.  My view is, however that a “one size fits all” is not workable if justice is to be served.

To illustrate my point, just last week, a client having been charged with violation of a No Contact Order who was facing five years in prison for an obvious violation of a No Contact Order.  My client, who weighs maybe 100 pounds, was prohibited from having any contact with her hulk of an ex-boyfriend (and ex football star).  My client’s ex has been served with a No Contact Order as well that prohibits any contact by him with my client.  The ex just wouldn’t leave her alone and had taken her insulin as well if you believe my client, but the bottom line is that the contact was at least mutually agreed.  I have ample evidence that my client is actually the victim in the relationship and and has been severely assaulted by her ex to include having her top teeth knocked out.

I began relating the “rest of the story” to the prosecutor, with the promise of more mitigating facts so my client could resolve the case in a just fashion.  The prosecutor related that she would knock one year off her recommended sentence and offered 40 months in prison!  The prosecutor explained that she does this with all defendant’s in similar situations; that is where two people violate no contact orders protecting each other against the other.  That way, she says she is able to treat everyone the same.  I object!  You shouldn’t build a box and put everyone in it.  To do justice one must delve deeper and do the hard work to achieve a just result.

I say don’t build boxes.  Keep an open mind, listen and strive to do the right thing; it may be more difficult but it is the right thing to do when you have someone’s freedom at state.

Post script:   This case is going to trial…. We will get a different and eminently more reasonable prosecutor for the trial of this matter and I believe that we may yet resolve this case as well.  We don’t believe in “boxes” and neither do a lot of jurors.