Domestic Violence in the Metro-Detroit area – Someone is Going to Jail

As a Lawyer who has handled Criminal Cases in the Courts of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne Counties for nearly 2 decades, I find myself answering some of the same questions again and again. It has been my goal, on this Blog, to repeat those questions and answers which seem to be common, if not popular. In a previous post, we’ve examined the futility of “Dropping the Charges” in Domestic Violence Cases. Another, often asked-about aspect of Domestic Violence Cases has to do with the basis, or reason(s) for a person’s arrest.

The question, as I typically hear it, sounds either like “How can they arrest me?” or “How can they charge me…?” Often, the person to whom I’m talking questions the evidence against them, or wants to point out that the only evidence was one person’s word against another’s. They feel there was no basis for their arrest.

man_being_arrested18jan08.jpgThere is a saying to the effect that, when the Police come, someone is leaving with them. Granted, I don’t really have any contact with cases where an arrest was not made, because who’d need a Lawyer for that? I step in after an arrest is made and a person has been charged, and from that point of view, every one of those Police calls that I deal with resulted in someone having been taken to jail.

Rather than embark upon an academic, politically correct, gender-neutral analysis of these cases, I’m going to invoke my privilege as a Blogger and point out that the overwhelming majority of Domestic Violence Cases involve a man striking a woman. Seen from my perspective, at least, of defending those charged with Domestic Violence, better than 90% of them are men. Once in a while, a woman is charged with the crime, but almost as often as those charges involve striking a male partner, they can also involve striking another relative of some kind, such as a son or daughter.

Equally as important to understanding why someone is always taken to jail after one of these calls would be examining, instead, why no one would be taken to jail. If you think about it, the only way the Police are going to leave without an arrest is if there is no credible evidence that someone committed an Assault and/or Battery upon another. If someone later winds up dead, every aspect of the prior Police contact is going to be examined under a microscope. Nobody would want to be the Officer who gave someone a break, or a “free pass” only to later find out that person seriously injured or killed the other party.

When we talk about credible evidence, by the way, we aren’t speaking of some learned, drawn out Courtroom analysis. We’re talking about the Police, having usually been summoned by a 911 call, having to make what can amount to life and death decisions, on the spot. Better to err on the side of caution, and have someone later found “Not Guilty,” than take the chance of not separating the parties at a volatile point in time. The careful, considered evaluation of the evidence is for later. When responding to a domestic disturbance, safety of the parties, and particularly the alleged victim, are the main priorities. Thus, the answer to questions like “How can they arrest me…?” is pretty self-evident; They can, because they did.

Thus, it’s fair to say that when the Police are called, and they show up at the scene of an alleged Domestic Altercation, someone is leaving in handcuffs. As the late Newscaster Walter Cronkite used to say “That’s the way it is…”