Unfortunately, Louisiana faces a problem of violence between domestic partners. While incidents have decreased over recent years, it is still pervasive throughout the state.
Here in the East Baton Rouge Parish District, the attorney’s office handles about 3,000 domestic violence and dating violence cases each year. We believe that everyone has a right to a defense and is innocent until proven guilty. We understand that the allegations in a domestic abuse arrest are not always accurate as reported to the officer.
Because of this, one of the areas we focus in is domestic assault cases. If you have been charged with domestic assault, there are a few things you should do, and a few you shouldn’t.
Keep reading to learn about the next steps.
Consult an Attorney
Laws are constantly changing, and the criminal charge of Aggravated Assault Upon a Dating Partner is a perfect example of that. This is a new statute that went into effect in 2017.
The makers intend for this law is to protect those who are a victim of domestic assault in their dating relationship. You don’t have to live or have lived with the victim to be charged with this offense.
By hiring an experienced attorney, they can help you prepare the best defense for your situation. They can also explain the penalties that you face for this new statute.
Obey the Protection Order
You may feel that the charges are unfair or unreasonable. Maybe you see the whole ordeal as a misunderstanding.
Whatever you do, do not ignore the protection order and try to contact the victim. This will get you in even more trouble than you already are. This violation is another crime in itself.
You could end up arrested for a second time. This can happen even if your attempted contact isn’t threatening.
Even your attempts to make up can result in another charge. A simple text of “I love you” will get you in hot water.
Record the Evidence
If you intend to claim self-defense, then you need to make a record of any injuries you received. Do not rely on the officers involved in the case to take pictures or make a record.
You also need to take pictures more than once. Often, injuries will continue to develop in the days after the incident.
If your partner caused damage to property, create a record of this too. This can help you later on to create a timeline of events that are supported by evidence.
Keep Your Business Private
This is an emotional time, and it can be tempting to vent your frustrations to those who will listen. But you need to remember that any visits or phone calls from the jail are recorded.
Anything you say during this time can and will be used against you. Your seemingly innocent statements of confusion and frustration can be misquoted and misconstrued.
Now is the time to take a hard look at yourself and your relationship. Once the protection order ends, you are free to resume communication with your partner. But is this the best course of action for the two of you?
A common trend for domestic assault occurrences is that they tend to escalate over time. In Louisiana, 81% of female homicides were committed by their partner or ex-partner.
You don’t want to put yourself in a position to get charged again in the future. So if you decide to get back together with your partner, you need to create a solid plan to address the issues and repair your relationship.
If you decide to end the relationship, make a clean, respectful break and move on. This is not the time to antagonize and get revenge. When you can show that you have made a solid separation and moved on this can help show the prosecutor that a reoccurrence is less likely to happen.
Get Professional Help
As you self-evaluate, you may decide that the reason for your assault is because of another underlying issue. If this is the case, you may need to get counseling for substance abuse, alcohol abuse, anger issues, or PTSD.
Have all of this documented from leading up to the event and afterward. Have your doctors write letters about your treatment and progress. This can show the court that you have taken the necessary steps to address the issues and cause of the assault.
Save Your Communication
Save any communication that you had with the victim leading up to the event. This includes voicemails, letters, texts, emails, and anything on social media.
You should also save any receipts or credit card charges that can show where you were at a specific time. This can aid in your defense against a false claim. You may even find stores that have video surveillance that proves without a doubt you weren’t where the victim claims you were.
Develop Your Defense
Most importantly you need to start working with your attorney to prepare your defense. An experienced attorney will be able to advise whether taking a plea bargain or going to trial is the better choice for your situation.
If you decide to go to trial, they can help you create a timeline of events leading up to the dispute. They can then describe the circumstances of the dispute. Your attorney can sus out the facts from the statements made in the heat of anger for the court.
Are You Facing Domestic Assault Charges?
If you are facing domestic assault charges the first thing you need to do is consult an attorney. The charges of domestic assault are serious and you face some life-altering consequences.
Do not try to navigate the Louisiana court system alone. Having an outside third party to advise you will help you to act reasonably and not emotionally.
If you have been charged with domestic assault, contact our office today to schedule a preliminary consultation for representation.