Facing a domestic violence charge is stressful. It is a very serious matter that should always be handled with the highest level of care, sensitivity, and professionalism. There is no doubt that domestic violence remains a serious problem in Massachusetts and throughout the country. At the same time, false accusations of domestic violence happen.. It is your constitutional right to always be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Every person has the right to have their day in court before a judge or a jury.
At Nate Amendola Defense, our Massachusetts criminal defense lawyers have the domestic violence expertise that you can rely on. We are here to be your first and last call when facing criminal charges. No matter the nature of the charges or the specific allegations, our legal team is more than ready to help. To arrange a completely confidential, no obligation consultation with a top Massachusetts domestic violence defense attorney, please contact us today.
Understanding Domestic Violence
It is important to understand what domestic violence actually is in Massachusetts. Though “domestic violence” is a term frequently used in common parlance, the crime often refers to assault and battery on a family or household member. Domestic violence in this context is governed by section 13M of General Law chapter 265 and refers to physical harm, the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, or sexual assault between family or household members. It can also be utilized when the people involved are or were in a dating relationship. “Domestic violence” can also come up in the context of violation of harassment prevention orders (258E) and abuse prevention orders (209A), legal mechanisms individuals can pursue to prevent harassment and abuse by other individuals.
It’s not too late
Frequently Asked Questions
When it comes to DV accusations, we stand by the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”. Our attorneys vigorously challenge the prosecution’s case, examine the evidence, scrutinize police procedures, and explore all possible defenses. We possess in-depth knowledge of Massachusetts’s domestic violence laws and nuances of the legal system, enabling us to build robust defense strategies tailored to each client’s unique circumstances. Common defense strategies are:
As in any type of case, false accusations can occur in domestic violence cases for various reasons, including revenge, jealousy, divorce proceedings, custody battles, or personal gain. Our legal team will conduct a thorough investigation to gather evidence that supports the defense’s claim of false accusations. This may involve locating witnesses, uncovering contradictory statements, and presenting any evidence that challenges the credibility of the accuser.
In some cases, the accused may have acted in self-defense or defense of others. Our attorneys will assess the circumstances surrounding the incident to determine if this defense strategy is applicable. We will gather evidence, interview witnesses, and reconstruct the events to demonstrate that the accused’s actions were justified and necessary to protect themselves or others from harm—in other words, whether the alleged victim was the first aggressor.
If the police improperly obtain evidence (for example, as a result of an improper search or lack of exception to the search warrant requirement), this evidence against you may be excluded as protected by the Fourth Amendment and Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights. However, given that domestic violence cases usually involve one person’s word against another, there is usually little extrinsic evidence at issue, so improper searches and seizures are not super common in domestic violence cases.
A constitutional provision that more often comes into play in the domestic violence context is the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and its Massachusetts analogue, Article 12 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, which provides the right for a criminal defendant to confront the witnesses against them at trial. This provides a defendant the right to cross-examine any witnesses who make testimonial statements in the case against them. The admission of hearsay evidence (i.e., if the prosecution attempts to use a statement from a witness prior to trial who does not then testify at trial) sometimes results in depriving defendants of their right to confront opposing witnesses.
A charge of assault and battery or assault and battery on a family member requires the Commonwealth to prove that the contact with the alleged victim either caused bodily harm or was offensive—the latter theory meaning that the contact was without consent. Thus, if the contact at issue in a domestic violence case was consensual, this will be an affirmative defense against a claim that the contact was offensive. Such a defense may go a long way to a favorable disposition at or prior to trial.
Every client and case is different so make sure to contact our experienced domestic violence lawyer right away to discuss your defense strategy.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Considered a Family or Household Member?
Family or household members include the following three categories:
- People who are or were married to one another;
- People who have a child in common, regardless of whether they are or were married or lived together; and
- People who are or have been in a substantive dating or engagement relationship.
The jury determines whether a dating relationship is substantive by considering the following factors: the length of time of the relationship, the type of relationship, the frequency of interaction between the parties, whether the relationship was terminated by either person and the length of time elapsed since the termination of the relationship.
What is a Protection Order in Massachusetts?
A protection order, also known as a restraining order, is a legal document issued by the court to protect individuals who are victims of domestic violence. It typically sets certain restrictions and conditions on the person accused. Obtaining a protection order involves filing a petition with the court and providing evidence as well as details of the abuse. The court proceeds to review the petition and could issue an immediate order. A hearing is then scheduled within a specific timeframe, during which both parties can present their arguments and evidence before the court then makes a determination regarding the issuance of a longer-term order.
Should I Give a Statement to the Police After Being Accused of Domestic Violence?
The general advice is that a criminal defendant should never give the state the rope to hang them with; in other words, you should provide the state with as little potentially incriminating evidence as possible that could be used against you. You are presumed innocent until proven guilty and your silence cannot be used against you. This advice holds true in domestic violence and assault and battery contexts with one caveat.
Domestic violence cases, specifically assault and battery on a family member cases, are generally he-said, she-said matters. It is not uncommon for there to be no eyewitnesses. This means that there will often be little evidence aside from the statements of the accused and of the alleged victim. One piece of evidence that would be available at trial is the police report. Thus, if the alleged victim makes a statement to the police after an allegation of domestic violence, it may be helpful, if true, to make a statement that denies or rebuts the allegations that could later be used at trial. If a defendant remains silent in a situation when they naturally would have been expected to deny the allegations, this silence can be taken into account by the jury in assessing the defendant’s credibility if they choose to later testify at trial and deny the allegations. In other words, contrary to the usual advice to remain silent, making a statement to the police that makes it into a report may in some situations bolster your credibility at trial. On the other hand, if all the prosecution has is the alleged victim’s statement, this may not be enough for proof beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.
What if My Accuser Wants to Drop Domestic Violence Charges Against Me?
While a recantation can potentially impact the case, it does not automatically result in the charges being dropped. Prosecutors may continue to pursue the charges based on other available evidence.
What are the Consequences of Domestic Violence in MA?
The specific consequences depend on the nature and severity of the offense, as well as the individual’s prior criminal record. Not only are there criminal penalties but there are collateral consequences.
What is a Certified Batterer’s Intervention Program?
A certified batterer’s intervention program (BIP) is a court-ordered program designed to address the behaviors and attitudes of individuals who have been convicted or are facing charges related to domestic violence offenses. The program aims to provide education, counseling and support to help offenders understand and change their behaviors.
Nate Amendola Defense Comprehensive Services
Navigating a domestic violence charge can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to face it alone. At Nate Amendola Defense, we understand the importance of protecting your rights AND providing unwavering support during this challenging time. With a client centered approach, our Massachusetts criminal defense lawyers and legal team is prepared to:
- Legal representation during arrest and arraignment;
- Investigation of the allegations and collection of evidence;
- Crafting a strong defense strategy;
- Negotiating with the prosecution for reduced charges or alternative resolutions;
- Representation in court hearings, including pretrial motions and trial; and
- Protecting your rights and advocating for your interests throughout the legal proceedings
Protect Your Future
Seek Professional Defense for Domestic Violence Charges
We recognize the sensitive and personal nature of DV cases. Our attorneys and staff approach each case with compassion, empathy, and discretion while protecting your rights. Building a strong attorney-client relationship based on trust and communication ensures that you feel supported throughout the process. We understand the potential impact of domestic violence allegations and are dedicated to taking those into account in our client’s circumstances.
If you are facing domestic violence allegations, it is crucial to seek immediate legal representation. Contact Nate Amendola Defense today to schedule a free consultation. Our team is ready to listen to your concerns. Call us at 781-650-6940 or fill out a form on our website.