Tuesday, February 3, 2015
MN Domestic Assault Charges (Victim's Rights)
Domestic assault, believe it or not, one of the most commonly charged crimes in State of Minnesota ... and, if not handled properly, can carry significant consequences.
Honestly, it is not an exaggeration ... if your significant other or family member says you struck them, or even placed them in fear of being harmed ... that is all it takes to be arrested.
However, often those expressions - ie., that someone believed they were in fear of being harmed are not what the alleged victim actually says; rather, it is the "rush to judgment" conclusion of the officer on the scene ... and can lead to (without that person's say-so) their loved one being hauled off to jail --- often an unintended consequences of a call to the authorities.
The State "Presses Charges" - not the Victim
One thing many people do not learn until well after the fact is that, if the alleged victim does not want to “press charges”, even if she changes her story or admits she lied, the charges do not get dismissed on that statement. As an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, I have dealt this situation ... ie., "she doesn’t want to press charges" ... and many believ that this will lead to an easy dismissal of a case. Sadly, that is often not true.
I think we'd all take some comfort in knowing that once an accusation has been made, if that individual has lied or misunderstood a perceived incident can come forth and tell the truth, and spare the accused the very real consequences of criminal prosecution. Unfortunately, the tactics of many prosecuting authorities, officers, and even non-profit shelters and similar organizations, encourage the alleged victim to stick to her story, no matter what. This has become systemic.
What is a DANCO?
A Domestic abuse no-contact order, or “DANCO”, prevents the ability of the 911 caller to have subsequent conversations with the accused which might clarify the circumstances of the incident. An order for protection may do the same. The accused is automatically arrested, preventing any contact with other witnesses or demonstration of evidence proving the alleged victim’s story is not true. From the beginning then, both parties are isolated from one another, and the accused is isolated from everyone, leaving only the accuser free to function and assemble a case, and be influenced by other people.
You’ll often see staff from shelters sitting in court, consulting with the woman afterward, speaking to police and the County. To be clear, these shelters do great work and help and protect thousands of abused women every year, especially when they have no place to live or hide from an aggressive stalker. However, at times, staff from these facilities function as an agent of law enforcement, and in a handful of cases, they shelter and alleged victim from her obligation to tell the truth. It doesn’t help that these incidents are often not black and white, and perhaps the accuser wants separation, but has embellished her story and only qualifies for the benefits of this shelter while she sticks to her story. There may be children involved, and sometimes family attorneys and shelter staff will end up advising the accuser to stick to her story put her in the best position to have custodial advantage.
Earning a Dismissal
Perhaps the greatest act of true violence to the truth, however, is when the state threatens their “victim.” Again, we have a justice system that SHOULD encourage the truth. We should not have to wait until a trial with sworn jurors and the accuser under oath to hear the truth. This happens more often then people would like to think. In fact, when push comes to shove, it happens nearly every time. We have personally fielded calls from victims in tears saying they made it up, and that they told the prosecutor, and the case still is not dismissed. We never ever put down our shield and sword, and continue to fight the case through trial.
If you’re charged with domestic assault, the fact is you cannot rely on your accuser to close your case. You need an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney that understands procedure, investigation, and who will do the witness preparation that the state apparently won’t. The fact is, with a “not guilty” plea, and a trial setting, if your lawyer sends an investigator to speak with the accuser and she recants, the state cannot call her as a witness just to get in her statement to police. That is a rule born out of some complicated case law. That statement CAN be suppressed, and the case can be dismissed on the day of trial, if you hire a lawyer that understands the rules of evidence, and who can secure the necessary information ahead of time.
If you’ve been accused of Domestic Assault, you need to contact an experienced St. Paul & Minneapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer who serves the south metro area such as Apple Valley, Eagan, Lakeville, Burnsville, Woodbury, Farmington, Rosemount, and Northfield. Call the Rolloff Law Office - today - to set up a FREE CONSULTATION: (612) 234-1165.