Domestic violence charges include acts of violence or threats of violence by one partner against another — a husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, or in some cases, even a one-night stand. Under North Carolina law, the alleged victim or accused can be anyone involved in a personal, intimate relationship with another.
Judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement take accusations of domestic violence very seriously. Those convicted of domestic violence crimes may face mandatory jail time, and lasting impact on their employment, child custody, and their ability to own a gun. That’s why it’s imperative to contact an experienced domestic violence defense attorney from Rawls, Scheer, Clary & Mingo the moment you are served with a civil domestic violence protective order or arrested for an alleged domestic violence crime.
While there is no specific criminal charge of “domestic violence,” criminal domestic violence cases can include assault, threats of physical violence, stalking and cyberstalking, violating a civil domestic violence protective order, and the specific crime of assault on a female. These charges can be misdemeanors or felonies, based on the seriousness of the assault and the injury suffered, if committed while a domestic protective order is in place, or during the act of another felony, like rape or attempted murder.
Conviction of a domestic violence crime sometimes carries a jail sentence, but even the less serious cases almost always include extensive conditions of probation or release – long-term domestic violence “treatment programs,” specialized probation supervision, bans from places where the victim lives and works, and even child custody limitations. Federal law also prohibits those convicted of domestic violence crimes or subject to a domestic violence restraining order from owning a gun. Due to the collateral consequence of a conviction or even being served with a domestic violence restraining order, you’ll want an experienced domestic violence defense attorney from Rawls, Scheer, Clary & Mingo on your side.
There are policies at all levels — law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, and magistrates — that favor a very muscular response to a charge of domestic violence. In most cases, the appearance of an experienced criminal defense attorney at the bond hearing is going to improve conditions for the defendant.
For the first 48 hours after arrest, the magistrate judge at the jail cannot set a bond for a domestic violence charge; only a judge can do that. In Charlotte and Mecklenburg County, a bond hearing usually happens within 18 to 24 hours of an arrest, so you’ll want to act quickly. An attorney may even be able to get your bond set before your hearing, and then represent you during the hearing itself.
Having an experienced domestic violence defense attorney represent you during your bond hearing may result in a lower initial bond amount, better conditions of the bond, and possibly a better custody agreement if there are children involved. Your attorney can assist you in presenting evidence and testimony that would help you mitigate a domestic claim against you — in other words, to tell your side of the story and bring some balance to the process.
Even if you are not arrested or charged with a crime, you may still need representation if you are served with a Domestic Violence Protective Order, often referred to as a “50B” or a “restraining order.” A 50B is a civil order, not a criminal charge; although a 50B and criminal charges may go hand-in-hand. You can be charged with a separate crime if you violate the terms of a 50B order. Even if a 50B is granted to the alleged victim, an experienced domestic violence defense attorney can often get the judge to moderate the terms she imposes on you, and guide you to avoid violations. The attorneys at Rawls, Scheer, Clary & Mingo are your advocates in and out of court.
The person who took the charges out (the prosecutor considers them the “victim”), often change their mind and try to drop the charges. You should not expect the charges to be dismissed when that happens. The Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office takes charges of domestic violence seriously and is also under pressure in the community to get the maximum punishment for every defendant. The decision to drop the case is theirs, not the alleged victim’s. The system is not geared to even consider that the allegation may have been false from the start. For that reason you’ll want an attorney to help you navigate the process until the case is completely closed.
An experienced domestic violence defense lawyer is your partner in unraveling the complicated claims made between parties in a domestic violence case. Experienced legal professionals who manage domestic violence cases — including law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges — know that emotions run high and that deference is generally given to the accuser. The attorneys at Rawls, Scheer, Clary & Mingo have decades of experience successfully defending clients in domestic violence cases.
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