If your wife or girlfriend has gone to the police or called the cops to accuse you of domestic violence, buckle your seat belt and get ready for a rough ride. Your first reaction and plan of attack to deal with this situation are very important. Here are the steps you should take to deal with a domestic violence arrest.
- If you are not arrested and the cops simply give you a warning, consider yourself lucky. However, realize still that a report may be taken and the authorities may always come back to arrest you if your partner makes another accusation. The best thing to do at this point is consider staying with a friend or relative for a few days to let things cool down. That way, neither of you is in the position to get into another argument and do something hasty such as call the cops again or involve the authorities. You can also avoid false accusations this way since you are no longer in her vicinity. This will give you time to plan your next steps, such as if you want to break off the relationship or consider getting a civil restraining order against your partner.
- If you are arrested, stay calm, post bail and do not speak to the cops. Getting arrested is a frightening experience. You may be feeling like you want to protest your innocence or explain your side of the story to the police. Do not do this under any circumstance. Politely inform the officer that you would like to exercise your Miranda right to remain silent, post bail and speak to an attorney as soon as possible. That is your right. Do not speak to anyone at the police station about your case or what happened. Keep your mouth shut, be polite and stay calm. A lot will be racing through your mind, but it is important that you stay collected. Even if the police officer or detective appears to be sympathetic, it is just a rouse. They are trained to try to get statements and evidence from you to help the prosecution. They are not on your side.
- When released, stay away from your partner. If you are arrested for DV, then there is likely a stay away order or temporary restraining order in place against you. You will need to collect your things from your house or apartment and look for someone to stay with until you can get the stay away order dissolved or modified to allow you back into your home. This is terrible, but will be temporary. Again, be calm and do not speak to your wife or girlfriend. You will be angry, confused and hurt, but avoid the temptation to try to speak with her. Trust me.
- Seek consultation with a lawyer as soon as possible regarding your arraignment and next court date. The next step in your process will likely be an arraignment or court date during which you will be formally presented with the charges against you. It is important that you consult with as many good lawyers as possible. Many will offer free or reduced price consultations. Get a local lawyer who knows the district attorneys and can help you navigate the system. Your lawyer may be able to find out before the arraignment what your charges are and speak to the district attorney to try to negotiate a lesser charge before they are brought. You should be prepared to plead not-guilty in any event.
- Do not try to dissuade your wife or girlfriend from cooperating with the authorities. The police, district attorney and detectives are not on your side. Once you are charged, the system is stacked against you and the authorities will act as if you are guilty. The presumption of innocent until proven guilty, while true in theory, is not true in practice when it comes to charging and prosecuting you. Also, the authorities may charge and prosecute you even if your partner decides they do not want to cooperate. That is certainly true in California and many other states. Also, if you try to contact your partner directly or even indirectly, you may likely be charged with trying to dissuade a witness, which is another crime which with additional penalties. The best thing to do is be patient and wait this out. Women often react the opposite way if you try to beg and plead them not to cooperate. That often emboldens them to cooperate even more because they now have power over you. Take that sense of power away from them by being silent and calm through this process. That will leave them guessing.
- Go back to work. You will be very shaken up by this experience and may have trouble concentrating, experience depression, anxiety, loss of sleep, etc. As difficult as it may seem to go back to work the next day or week, you should do that. Act as if everything is normal and do not tell your employer about the case yet. Check your employment agreement and see if you have any obligation to report an arrest or criminal charge. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty and your employer may not be allowed to take any action against you while your case is pending. That may be considered a violation of your civil rights. Work will also take your mind off of your case. You need to keep your livelihood and stay strong while you work through your case.