Being convicted of domestic violence in North Carolina can destroy your life. Like other criminal acts, you are likely to find yourself up against a number of serious penalties, including hefty fines and the possibility of imprisonment. But domestic violence cases also tend to be far more emotional and personal than those associated with most other criminal charges.
If you are convicted, you may lose parental rights and become estranged from other family members or loved ones. You may be branded as abusers and forced into psychological evaluations and anger management courses. You can be barred from your home, lose your job, and more. And even a mere charge often leads to a protective order placed against you until your court appearance, which can make life a lot harder.
Because of this, if you’ve been charged with domestic violence in North Carolina, you need to put together the strongest defense possible. That means contacting a criminal defense attorney with a successful track record in these types of cases – and doing so quickly. The faster that you can get someone crafting your defense strategy, the more likely you are to experience a positive outcome.
The laws of our state pretty much guarantee that someone will be arrested when there is a claim of domestic violence, but you have to remember that an arrest or even a charge does not equal a conviction. There are all kinds of reasons someone may be charged with domestic violence, and a skillful criminal lawyer knows how to use a number of possible defenses to protect your rights and future.
By going over the exact details of the alleged incident with your defense attorney, you can help them to figure out which strategy is most likely to work in your situation. Some of the most common successful defenses include:
- Mistaken identity. This can be defended in court when you have an alibi proving that you were not near the site of the incident when it occurred, or if a group of people were involved but you were not engaged in the dispute.
- Lack of evidence. In most domestic violence cases, there will be some physical evidence of injury to the victim, or on the property where the incident occurred. Without this evidence, the prosecution may not have a strong case.
- Self-defense. This is quite common in domestic violence disputes, where one party may instigate and you may be stuck defending yourself to prevent further injury. This is why your criminal attorney needs to understand the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the incident.
- False allegations. In essence, if you want to use this defense, you need to prove that your accuser is lying. Whether you were not near the incident at the time, or they “faked” injuries or evidence, or you can prove a motive for their false charges, your defense lawyer will need to uncover evidence that supports this.
- While it may be uncommon, some defendants have successfully argued that their accuser consented to the act. This type of defense should only be used in certain, very specific circumstances.
In some cases, defendants are charged with domestic violence without even knowing that their behavior was considered criminal. For example, repetitive phone calls to the alleged victim, or following a person from their home or work can both count as domestic violence. There are also instances of verbal, financial, or social abuse that a person may be unaware of.
If you are surprised to find yourself facing domestic violence charges for an act you didn’t know was illegal, reach out to an experienced professional. He or she will be able to help you understand your charges and the options available to you, as well as ensuring that you get a fair trial and have the best chance at having your charges reduced or dropped.
About the Author
Attorney Mike Schlosser represents victims of personal injury, those charged with a crime, as well as those facing traffic charges. A former Guilford County, North Carolina District Attorney, Schlosser has been in private practice at the Law Firm of Schlosser & Pritchett since 1983 and has been a member of the North Carolina State Bar since 1973.