Whether it's between couples, marrieds, family members, roommates, or any other kind of interpersonal relationship, domestic violence is its own category of offense. It is treated differently in all phases of the legal system - from when the police respond (if they do), how the case is handled by the District Attorney and defense lawyers, what happens in the courtroom and the aftermath of sentencing and penalty.
Much of what occurs is mandated by law. Statutes spell out the protocol from arrest to adjudication and there is very little wiggle room for judges and prosecutors. In Tennessee, for example, the law is very clear. Local law enforcement, when coming on the scene of a domestic violence case, is required to and must arrest the "primary aggressor." Even if neither person wants to press charges, the police must arrest someone. Of course, discovering who was "primary" can be complicated, what with the conflicting stories told and the heightened emotions of the moment. That's why, in some instances, both parties are detained.
There are differences in the incarceration and bail system before trial as well. In most criminal cases, a defendant can walk out of jail once they've put up the appropriate bond. This does not apply to instances of domestic violence. All arrestees must complete a 12-hour "cooling off" period, no matter their ability to post bail or how much of a continuing threat they pose. Once released, they are subject to conditions such as no contact with the alleged victim, an inability to return home, and other restrictions. They may even be required to participate in GPS monitoring.
Once you appear before a judge, things become...complicated. Any court case is a balancing act between the finder of fact (the jury) and the finder of law (the judge). Domestic violence cases are highly specialized and should be treated as such. This means you need someone on your side who understands the intricacies and how to navigate through them. If convicted, you also face specialized punishments including mandatory anger management and a possible six-month "batterer intervention program."
If convicted, there are big differences in the consequences as well. Domestic violence is considered a misdemeanor, not a felony, but if found guilty, you will lose your right to own a gun. You will also find it impossible to expunge the case from your permanent record. That's why proper representation is so important. You need someone on your side, even you are the victim in the case, to make sure the charges are handled fairly and honestly and that your rights are prioritized and preserved.
Attorney, Brian Lee Nash has nearly a decade of experience working with a wide range of clients. He brings a vast amount of knowledge, drive, and determination to every case he works with.
If you've been involved in a domestic violence case, have been arrested on said charges, or need answers to general questions about Tennessee and its legal approach to the issue, please contact Nash Law, PLLC today at 615-628-7555.
This article was written by the author on behalf of Nash Law, PLLC.