DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND THE JOVAN BELCHER MURDER/SUICIDE.

As the Jovan Belcher story illustrates, violent domestic relationships sometimes end in violent death.  Obviously, the vast majority of domestic relationships in which some measure of violence occurs do not end that way.  But a person who is charged with a domestic violence offense should understand that the police, the D.A.’s and the judges they encounter will be on high alert against the possibility that their particular case might end that way, especially in the wake of a high-profile domestic violence homicide.   No police officer, D.A. or judge wants to answer why he or she missed the opportunity to prevent a death or serious injury because he or she allowed a defendant to have contact with an alleged victim before things went terribly wrong.   Often, the parties involved in a domestic violence case are shocked by the way the treatment they receive from the criminal justice system.   The defendant is removed from the home and barred from returning.  The alleged victim’s requests to have the matter dropped or to have the defendant return to the home seem to fall on deaf ears.    If financial pressures caused domestic strife before a domestic violence arrest, the financial problems only increase when it becomes necessary to maintain separate residences and  to work through mutual financial matters without being allowed to communicate.   Couples who have been together for decades are suddenly not allowed to see or communicate with each other at all, and often they resent the intrusion.  Resent it as they may, once the state gets involved in a domestic violence matter, the lives of those involved are going to change, suddenly and drastically.    A person charged with a domestic violence crime needs experienced counsel to work through these matters; to help those within the system satisfy themselves that the danger of homicide or serious injury is not a real concern in the particular case; to seek a modification of bail conditions to allow the defendant to communicate with the alleged victim about such matters as financial concerns and child visitation; and to do whatever can be done to avoid a conviction of the charge or charges.   These are very unfriendly waters and at least two things are required to navigate them:  an experienced attorney and a little patience.



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