What Happens After A Domestic Violence Arrest?
Over the last several years, law enforcement officers have stepped up their campaigns against domestic violence. That’s because the public relations and criminal court campaign has largely been ineffective. Over twelve million people, most of them women, are victims of domestic violence every year. The persistently high figure has prompted calls for law enforcement to “do something” about this issue.
As a result, the initial steps in a domestic violence case are much different than the initial steps in other criminal cases. Because of these differences, to get a fast start, a Tampa domestic violence lawyer cannot use the same approach in these matters. A fast start doesn’t always guarantee a successful outcome, but a fast start helps. If a lawyer is behind the eight-ball at the start, it’s very difficult to successfully resolve a domestic violence or any other criminal charge.
This step is normally easy to take in most misdemeanors. Most defendants immediately qualify for one of the three types of jail release, and easy terms are usually available. The jail release environment is much different in domestic violence cases, as follows:
- OR Release: Own recognizance release is a lot like the honor system. If the defendant promises to toe the line, the sheriff releases the defendant until the case is resolved. Since OR release is usually only available for nonviolent offenders, most domestic violence defendants simply don’t qualify for this form of jail release.
- Bail Bond: A bail bond is like an insurance policy. If the defendant doesn’t fulfill all the conditions of bond, a bonding company, which acts like an insurance company, pays the financial penalty. Mostly because of the possibility of a restraining order, as outlined below, these conditions are very difficult or even impossible to follow.
- Cash Bail: Most domestic violence defendants don’t legally qualify for OR release, and most defendants don’t financially qualify for cash bail release. In domestic violence cases, the cash bond amount could be more than $1,000., if this form of release is immediately available, and that’s a big “if.”
Because of these issues, a Tampa criminal defense attorney normally schedules a bail reduction/modification hearing in these matters. At this hearing, the judge considers a wide range of factors, aside from the nature of the offense, to determine a reasonable amount of bail. This hearing usually happens within seventy-two hours of an arrest.
Prompt jail release is important for personal and legal reasons. Being behind bars is disruptive, to say the least. Additionally, if the case goes to court while the defendant is in jail, the defendant often accepts an unfavorable plea bargain agreement, just to “get it over with.”
Most law enforcement agencies have mandatory arrest policies, which means a defendant almost always immediately goes to jail. Most of these agencies also have mandatory informative policies. Officers must inform alleged victims of their right to file restraining orders, and officers must give alleged victims a push in that direction.
Judges often grant ex parte temporary restraining orders based solely on the alleged victim’s affidavit. These temporary orders are usually valid for about two weeks.
At a full hearing, the judge may extend this order for up to two years. Judges may also add additional conditions, like financial support payment, surrender of firearms, and counseling requirements. Therefore, assertive representation at this hearing is very important. It’s very difficult to deal with the pressures of a criminal case when the judge imposes additional conditions.
Reach Out to a Diligent Hillsborough County Attorney
A criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Tampa, contact the OA Law Firm. We routinely handle matters in Pinellas County and nearby jurisdictions.