Domestic Violence and COVID-19
The coronavirus pandemic has drastically altered our lives in ways that no one could have imagined just a few months ago. Stay at home and shelter in place orders have created significant economic and emotional stress for virtually every individual American and business, resulting in hardships not seen since the Great Depression. The Courts and Criminal Justice system are no exception, some for the good in the sense that there are fewer arrests and less incarceration because crime overall is down. The shutdown of our country and economy has generally made people safer from criminal harm; there are certainly less robberies, burglaries, sexual assaults, and DWis as people remain in their homes for work and socialization. However, not all types of criminal conduct have diminished. In fact, statistics clearly show a rise in the incidence of domestic violence cases and arrests from the same time last year to this year.
Reasons for the Rise in DV
A rise in domestic violence is certainly predictable given the shelter in place orders. Millions of people have lost their jobs, and even those that have not are generally working from home at reduced salaries. The economic stress of paying rent or a mortgage, credit card bills, taxes and utilities, and even putting food on the table can be overwhelming. Add to that the close confines of a house or an apartment where people are essentially spending twenty-four hours a day together, and you can see how emotionally draining that can become; every issue becomes magnified. Nerves become frayed. People can respond physically in ways that they never would have considered previously.
Unfortunately, a call to the police, although justified, sets in motion a chain of events that is often not intended or considered. When the police respond to an alleged domestic violence incident, they are almost required to make an arrest. There is a fear if they do nothing, the circumstances will escalate resulting in dire consequences and that there could be civil liability imposed on the police. Therefore, an arrest is made so that a person can be brought before the court to be held on bail AND to secure an Order of Protection. Courts routinely grant such orders because there has been an allegation of violence and it is safer to order that the parties remain apart. Thus, when a domestic violence charge has been filed, it results in criminal charges and a stay away Order of Protection regardless of the wishes of the complainant. A defendant is put out of his or her home, often until the criminal case is resolved.
A criminal defense attorney must then try to accomplish two things:
1. Negotiate a non-criminal result, hopefully a dismissal
2. Eliminate the Order of Protection, if that is the wish of the parties.
These goals are achievable but not easy. Once charges are filed, the District Attorney decides how the case is to be prosecuted and resolved, sometimes over the objection of a complaining witness.
Therefore, hiring an attorney skilled in such cases who has credibility with the prosecutor and the court is critical to obtaining a favorable outcome. At Collins Gann Mccloskey & Barry, PLLC, this is exactly who we are and what we do. We are available 24/7 and consultations are free at 516-294-0300.