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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Pretrial Proceedings in Domestic Violence Cases

Pretrial Proceedings in Domestic Violence Cases


Most of our DV posts focus on the trial aspects of these cases, such as the burden of proof in these matters. But in the immediate wake of a domestic violence assault arrest, the trial date is very far away. Some other concerns are much more pressing. In many cases, these preliminary matters may have worse consequences than a domestic violence conviction, which is saying a lot.

A Fairfax criminal defense lawyer not only advocates for domestic violence defendants once these cases go to court. Attorneys also stand up for individual rights in other forums. Lawyers take the same approach in pretrial matters. They evaluate cases, collect evidence, and then never stop fighting for you.

Jail Release

Many law enforcement departments have replaced mandatory arrest policies with cite-and-release policies. That’s especially true in drug possession, low-level theft, prostitution, and other crimes with no immediate victims. But for the most part, mandatory arrest policies remain in place in domestic abuse cases. In fact, this arrest often includes a mandatory twenty-four-hour confinement period.

This dark cloud has a silver lining. The additional time gives a Fairfax criminal defense lawyer a better chance to secure favorable jail release terms.

We mentioned cite-and-release policies above. These initiatives are part of a move toward a kinder, gentler criminal justice system, which includes expanded OR (own recognizance) release. Basically, defendants who are charged with non-violent misdemeanors who promise to go forth and sin no more and toe the line until their cases are resolved are released on their own recognizance.

There’s some question as to what constitutes a “nonviolent” crime. But by any definition, domestic battery is a violent crime. So, regardless of the defendant’s criminal history, OR release is usually unavailable in these situations.

A bail bond usually is available. Attorneys often have professional relationships with bonding companies who agree to reduce their fees and/or offer more lenient conditions. Additionally, in some cases, attorneys can arrange jail release for their clients.

Protective Orders

During arrests, as they haul suspected instigators off to jail, officers must usually inform alleged victims of their right to obtain a protective order. Especially since passions are still high at that time, many alleged victims take advantage of this opportunity.

A civil judge could issue an ex parte protective order based solely on the alleged victim’s affidavit. Usually, the affiant must prove that violence occurred or that violence is likely to occur in the future. An ex parte protective order review is not a criminal trial, so the standard of evidence is much lower. Most judges accept the alleged victim’s version of events at face value.

These orders usually last about two weeks. After a hearing, the judge can extend that protective order for up to two years.

Alleged abusers have the right to an attorney at this hearing. Attorneys can often discredit alleged victims at these hearings. That’s assuming the matter gets to a hearing. Attorneys often negotiate favorable out-of-court settlements in these cases, which force the two fighters to go back to their respective corners but don’t have unwanted collateral effects.

Count on a Dedicated Loudoun County Lawyer

There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. Convenient payment plans are available.



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