The vast majority of domestic violence investigations are going to happen immediately in the wake of summons where someone has called the police. Most typically, at least two officers are going to respond to the scene and are going to get both sides of the story.
Law enforcement will interview and, in some cases, they will each individually interview the alleged victim and very often, they will both, either together or individually, interview the alleged assailant or defendant as well.
Once they have talked to those two as well as any other witnesses and collected any physical evidence, they are going to, in almost every domestic violence case, determine who they believe the primary aggressor to be and then will charge that individual.
A police officer is going to determine who the primary aggressor is by interviewing everyone who’s involved and looking at all of the evidence including physical evidence. Essentially, what they are looking for is who started it – and not just who started the argument, but the first person to do something physically violent or aggressive.
Whoever laid hands on the other person first, whoever threw an object first, whoever did something physically violent or threatened something physically violent first, is going to be considered the primary aggressor in many cases.
However, it is also true that, very often, the person who received the worst injuries is going to be considered the victim and the other person is going to be considered the primary aggressor just as a practical matter in the way that the police often think about these things.
Domestic violence investigations are different in the sense that, very often, the people that are on the two sides of it have a relationship. It is very often a doubtful relationship or other romantic relationship or even a parent-child or someone who is in a relationship like that.
That affects the way that it is investigated; it affects the way that everyone you know behaves under the circumstances. There is the difference between someone says in the heat of the moment right after it has occurred and what they might be willing to say in court. Very often, by the time they get to court, the story will change.
It is important to have a lawyer during the investigation, if an individual can, for good advice on how to proceed during the investigation. In many or most cases, it does not make any sense to talk to the police. That is something that can only harm the individual and only create evidence that is going to be used against the individual. An attorney can help an individual understand that.
Although, sometimes, it does make sense and there are ways to head off charges. In most cases, an individual is not going to have the opportunity to have counsel during the investigation because it happens so quickly after an incident. However, there are exceptions to that.
There are some cases where police are not involved until later or even much later, and there will be an opportunity to consult with counsel before an individual ever talks to the police or has to deal with questions. It is very important to do that if the individual has the opportunity.
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