The Alleged Victim In My Domestic Violence Related Case Has Been Trying To Have Contact With Me And Wants To See Me. Should I have Any Contact With Him Or Her At This Point? What If He Or She Is Calling Me?
It is nearly universal in a domestic violence case that as a condition of bond the defendant cannot have contact with the alleged victim, also known as the “complaining witness.” Not communicating can become very difficult if the parties are still together, are married, have kids in common, or live together. It means you are not supposed to talk, see each other, text, email, or anything of the sort. Your lawyer must address the issue of contact with the complainant at the arraignment. If you need to go to your house and get personal belongings so you can live for a few weeks or months while the case is pending, you have the opportunity to do that. A procedure can be set up to exchange the kids, say at a police station so that you can have your parenting time and visitation. Frequently, the alleged victim of domestic violence may have buyer’s remorse, and want to have the case dismissed a day or two after making that 911 call. It is very common in those instances that they start to reach out to their spouse, their partner and say to them, “It’s okay, you can move home.” If you are the defendant, you must understand that you do that at your own significant risk.
The complaining witness may be told not to contact you, but you are the one, as the criminal defendant, that is charged with a crime. The court is never going to put the alleged victim of domestic violence in jail for contacting you. However, the court will undoubtedly put you in jail for violating your bond conditions if you contact the complaining witness. You are the one who has the ax hanging over your head.
Importantly, the no-contact order will be in the computer system. So, if the police run your name, they will see that there’s a court order that says, “the defendant is not to have contact with the alleged victim.” Based on that information, the police will arrest you immediately and you are going to jail. Clients have such a difficult time following this advice for obvious reasons; we all want to get back with our spouses, we are partners, we all want to repair the relationship and move on and make it better. But the advice is straightforward, don’t do it. If the complaining witness wants to have contact with you, your lawyer needs to go to the prosecutor, you need to have a hearing, and the judge has to lift the no-contact order to make it legal to communicate with your partner. Then and only then, when the judge lifts the no-contact order, is it okay to have contact with the alleged victim. That hearing, almost always, 99% of the time, requires the complaining witness to appear in court to satisfy both the judge and the prosecutor, and under oath in open court, “I want the defendant to be able to come home, I want to have contact with him or her.”
While A Case Is Pending, Should Someone Facing Domestic Violence Related Charges Go To Any Counseling Or Anger Management Courses Or Does That Make Me Look Guilty To The Court?
The majority of all criminal cases, including domestic violence accusations, are resolved by way of a plea bargain or a negotiated settlement. Most cases are not resolved by going to trial.
Therapy, counseling, and anger management are known as mitigation or mitigating steps. Mitigation is essential to show a prosecutor in a plea-bargaining context or a judge if you’re being sentenced that you are serious about addressing any issue that exists. You are representing to everyone that it’s never going to happen again. In addition, in many cases, it will be an order of the court as a condition of bond that you get screened for anger management and attend any anger management classes that probation recommends. But even if it isn’t, it’s still, as I said, critical to show that you are serious about changing that you’re serious about not going back to court ever again. Mitigation shows you’re serious about getting help and ensuring everyone that this will never happen in the future.
The good news is that most of the time, that counseling is privileged and cannot be shared with the prosecutor, judge, or the police without your expressed consent and waiver of that psychologist-patient or therapist-patient privilege. The only exception to that is in the cases of continued ongoing domestic violence or future threats. So as long as you’re not talking about lasting harm or the threat of future harm, the privilege will be intact, and the fact that you’re seeing a counselor, seeing a therapist, that you’re in anger management will not be shared with anyone without your expressed consent that it be shared.
For more information on Domestic Violence Law in Michigan, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (248) 509-0056 today.