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Prosecution of Domestic Violence in Virginia 

When one is accused of domestic violence, a lot of change happens at once. It is a tumultuous time and besides facing the social and professional upheaval that follows accusations, the accused might find themselves wondering what will happen to them next. A skillful domestic violence attorney will understand how the prosecution of domestic violence in Virginia works and can help the accused respond accordingly.

Start of Prosecuting

The prosecution of domestic violence in Virginia begins with an arrest by a police officer who brings evidence in front of the magistrate. Although domestic violence cases are not going to be brought by a prosecutor, the more serious domestic violence cases often are brought at the direction of a prosecutor. The process is that once an allegation is made, police will investigate.

Once they have concluded their investigation, they will bring their evidence before a prosecutor who makes the determination about what charges, if any, are going to be brought. The stronger the evidence, the worst the injuries are. The worst the facts are in general, the more likely a prosecutor is going to move forward and attempt to secure convictions on the charges he or she thinks can be proved.

Putting Accusers on the Stand

There are a number of benefits for putting the accuser on the stand, as well as potential risks and challenges.

Benefits

The first benefit is that the alleged victim, in many cases, has the best opportunity to observe what happened, to know what occurred, and to be able to describe that to either a judge or jury.

In addition, if that person has been injured or harmed in some way, it may play to the sympathies of the court and the jury to hear from that person, to understand what occurred from his or her perspective, to know what he or she was thinking while it happened, and to have an opportunity to empathize with the person for what he or she went through.

Challenges

Putting the alleged victim on the stand poses a challenge to the defense because it can play on the emotions of the court or of the jury. It can influence them to view things in a light that is not as favorable to the defendant.

The difficulty for the prosecution lies in the potential unreliability of the individual as a witness. They do not always hold up well under cross-examination. Experienced counsel cross-examining an accuser may be able to show a judge or a jury that the individual is not telling the whole truth, that parts of the individual’s story do not make sense, or that the individual has not been truthful on other occasions. If successful, it can have the ability to completely or to some significant degree undermine the government’s case.

Prosecution-Defense Relations

It is important to use a lawyer who has good relationships with local prosecutors because defense attorneys that have bad relationships with local prosecutors introduce risks and problems under their client’s cases that would not otherwise exist. When defense counsel is disliked by the prosecution, the prosecution is motivated in a way that it might not otherwise be. The prosecution is more likely to be harsher and more aggressive with the defendant.

Role of an Attorney

There are a number of approaches that attorneys take to defend someone who has been accused of domestic violence. The first thing that they do is sit down and listen to the person’s story. It is important to understand what occurred from the person’s perspective, what his or her biggest fears and concerns are, and what evidence he or she believes may be helpful in the case.

From there, it is the lawyer’s job to evaluate the evidence that the government has, including the witness statements, the physical evidence, and any statements that have been made by the accused. Attorneys formulate the best tactics that they can to bring about the best result in the case.

In some cases, it means challenging the government’s evidence and having a trial to convince the court that a person is not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In other cases, it means building a mitigation phase to attempt to persuade a prosecutor or judge that a person is deserving of having his or her charge dismissed, reduced, or even in some cases make the punishment lighter.

Contact an Attorney

If you find yourself struggling to make sense of the charges you face, contact a lawyer that understands how the prosecution of domestic violence in Virginia works and can help you mount a solid defense.

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