Domestic offenses are vigorously prosecuted by district attorneys’ offices in California with the assistance and incentive of financial grants they receive from Sacramento. And while there are certainly reasons to be thankful for a cultural shift that has made domestic battery reporting and prosecutions more frequent in many contexts, in the fervor to eradicate domestic crimes, many innocent people have been swept up in law enforcement’s net. The penalty for domestic offenses, even simple property crimes where no battery has occurred, is a mandatory 52-week domestic battery education class, community service, and a heap of fines and fees. The social stigma that can accompany a domestic offense can stay with someone for years after a conviction and can affect their employment, immigration status, and ability to travel freely.
For most types of crimes, someone’s past behavior is presumed to be too prejudicial to be used against them in a current case. However, domestic offense are unique in that prosecutors are given broad leeway to bring in past acts, even if those past acts didn’t result in a conviction. Because it is quite common in domestic battery situations for victims to recant the statements they made to police at the time their spouse or partner was arrested, prosecutors are trained on how to deal with recanting victim witnesses, and often present law enforcement “expert” witnesses to explain to juries that a recanting alleged victim is caught in a “cycle of violence” and is just covering for their spouse/partner.
The introduction of past acts and the allowance of domestic violence experts to speculate that a recanting alleged victim is just covering for their spouse/partner, amounts to a shifting of the burden of proof where the defendant is often presumed to be guilty even when the person who originally accused them testifies that they are innocent.
Successfully defending against a domestic charge requires the confidence that comes with knowing how to win when the case goes in front of a jury. Having an attorney that has the experience selecting juries, cross-examining experts, presenting reasonable doubt, and winning on a politically charged offense like domestic battery is something you cannot afford to go without. Call Mr. Ganschow now for a free consultation.