In the vast majority of cases of domestic violence in Virginia, a prosecutor is not actually involved in the decision to bring the case. Most cases are begun by either an individual or a law enforcement going before a magistrate judge and asking for a warrant issued. In the most serious kinds of cases, felony cases that involve malicious wounding or unlawful wounding, these matters are typically investigated by law enforcement and that the evidence is brought before a prosecutor who makes the decision as to what charges to bring.
If you are facing prosecution of Fairfax domestic violence cases, it is imperative that you speak with a knowledgeable local attorney. A prosecutor reviews the evidence and they make the decision of what charges to bring against the subject of the charges. A prosecutor needs to prove that you and the household member were involved in unauthorized touching with the intent to do harm. These cases can become complicated, and it can be strategic to have a dedicated domestic violence lawyer review your defense strategy.
In terms of what goes into a prosecutor’s thought process in determining what charges are appropriate, the prosecutor is looking at what charges are going to be supported by facts and the evidence under Virginia law and beyond that, what charges they believe they can prove and what charges they think is appropriate in their discretion for the government to pursue.
In general, prosecutors will bring charges that they believe they have the evidence to support and that they believe are appropriate in their discretion to pursue at trial.
What a prosecutor has to prove in order to make their case is going to vary depending on what precisely the individual is charged with. In the most common kinds of cases involving domestic assault and battery, the prosecutor is going to have to prove, number one, that the accused and the accuser is family or household members and then also may count the elements of battery, which involve there being an unwanted or unauthorized touching that is done with the intent to do harm.
That is a term of art used to describe the investigatory approach that the alleged victim will be uncooperative. Therefore, investigators will use certain techniques to build a case against someone that will enable it to be successfully prosecuted with or without the victim’s cooperation in court.
Whether the alleged victim is on the stand is good or bad for the defense depends entirely on that person. In some cases, they are not credible as a witness. They do not do well under cross-examination, they cannot explain the things that they have alleged and when they are faced with contradictory evidence, they may equivocate or, in some way, demonstrate to the court that they are not credible. On the other hand, a strong alleged victim witness from the perspective of the prosecution can be sympathetic and can be damaging to the defense’s case in the sense that they can generate sympathy and potentially cause there to be a harsher or more severe penalty from the court upon conviction. The treatment by prosecution of Fairfax domestic violence cases can impact how your defense team creates a strategic case.
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