Cases of domestic violence can be tremendously emotional and legally complex. Often, a partner or family member is torn between bringing legal action against their abuser and seeing that person face serious consequences. However, a victim’s testimony or cooperation is not necessarily needed to prosecute a domestic violence case. When domestic violence cases go to court, they can be among the most complicated to prosecute.
What Evidence Is Needed?
First, it is important to understand that domestic violence is a criminal offense and unlike with civil litigation, it is the state that will bring charges, not a victim. Once an individual has been charged with domestic violence, an official investigation of the allegations will occur, regardless of the alleged victim’s wishes. In fact, it is possible for a court to find a defendant guilty even if the victim actively campaigns against charges or recants his or her story.
Once a charge has been filed, the case will proceed just as any other criminal case, with the prosecution looking to gather any and all evidence against the defendant. Testimony from the responding officers, pictures of the victim, and any reports from neighbors can all be powerful evidence in domestic violence cases. In situations where the victim will not act against the defendant, the prosecution may still be able to use previous statements (including those which were later recanted) or items such as the recording of the call initially placed to 9-1-1. Together, this evidence may be enough for the prosecution to secure a conviction.
Victims of domestic violence can also file a civil suit. Civil cases are wholly separate from criminal charges and can proceed even if a defendant is not found guilty in a criminal case. One important distinction between criminal and civil cases is that a civil trial has a lower standard of proof. In a civil case, it only has to be shown that it was more likely than not that a defendant committed the act in question. In a criminal case, any charge must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Jacksonville Domestic Violence Attorneys
In addition to the potential for legal punishments, those charged with domestic violence will likely face social repercussions and stigma. If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, building a powerful defense begins with a call to the Law Offices of Jason K.S. Porter. Our criminal defense attorneys are former prosecutors with substantial experience helping clients to overcome charges related to domestic violence. When your future and reputation are on the line, contact our firm and get more than 90 years of combined experience on your side.
Request an initial consultation with our firm to learn more about your legal options.