How Important Are Evidence And Witnesses In A Domestic Violence Case?

They are as important as they are in any other type of case. What makes a domestic violence case unique is that the defendant, the complainant, and the witnesses generally have known each other for a long time and have a lengthy history together, both good and bad. Very rarely do you have a domestic violence case that happens in a bar or on the street where you have an independent witness. Most commonly, domestic violence cases occur in somebody’s home or apartment and involve only the defendant and the alleged victim. This means that your typical domestic violence case is a “he said she said” where one person says one thing happened and the other person says something else happened. Often, there are no visible injuries or very minor injuries.

The entirety of the prosecution’s case is generally just the complainant’s word and whatever injuries that person has. But it’s important to remember that just because the complainant is injured, that doesn’t mean the case is indefensible. Injuries can occur in a bunch of different ways. They can be caused in self-defense. They can happen accidentally. They be caused by a mutual fight. They can even be self-inflicted.

You’d be surprised how many domestic violence charges happen because someone is defending themselves from a spouse. For example, I’ve had several cases where a complainant pulled a knife on my client in the kitchen during an argument. My clients pushed the complainant away or tried to disarm them and, during the scuffle, injured them. The complainants called the police and claimed they were assaulted, and the police believe them because they’re the only ones with injuries. Of course, my clients tried to explain they had a knife pulled on them first, but what independent evidence can you use to prove that someone pointed a knife at you? Nothing. In that situation, the police officer is always going to arrest the person who isn’t injured.

Sometimes spouses will get into a bad argument that leads to mutual pushing and shoving. The spouse who ends up getting hurt worse (whether on purpose or not) will get upset and call the police. And, again, the police will arrest the person who’s not injured as badly.

Other times, there’s a verbal argument, maybe because one spouse found evidence of cheating or because they’re going through a messy divorce. One spouse will call the police and flat out falsely claim they were assaulted to punish the other or to get leverage in the divorce.

I even had a case where the complainant was cheating on her husband with a physically abusive boyfriend. The complainant didn’t want to admit that she was getting beat up by the boyfriend, so she falsely accused her husband of beating her up. She figured that she’d be able to cover up the affair and use the case to get better terms in the divorce and eventually move in with the abusive boyfriend. You can’t make this stuff up.

So there are any number of reasons why injuries appear on a complainant that have nothing to do with an actual assault.

It’s also very important in a domestic violence case to learn as much as you can about the relationship history by talking to the client, the complainant, and the complainant’s friends and family members. You’d be surprised how many lawyers don’t put in that effort. You don’t have to dig too deep to find out that there are often very strong motives for a complainant to make up or exaggerate an alleged assault.

For more information on Importance Of Evidence & Witnesses, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (713) 936-4521 today.

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