January 28, 2022 | Domestic Violence
Domestic violence charges are serious offenses in Kentucky. Unfortunately, law enforcement officers often err on the side of caution if they have any reasonable suspicion that someone committed domestic violence. If the police are called to your home for a complaint of domestic violence, you will likely be arrested.
In many cases, an arrest for domestic violence results from the alleged victim’s statement. However, police officers can arrest someone for domestic violence, even if the alleged victim does not want to press charges. Furthermore, a person could be convicted of domestic violence, even though the victim refuses to cooperate or press charges.
Kentucky Domestic Violence Laws
Domestic violence is defined in Kentucky Revised Statute §403.720. According to the statute, domestic violence and abuse include:
- Physical injury
- Sexual abuse
- Serious physical injury
- Infliction of the fear of any of the above actions
You can be charged with domestic violence against another family member or an unmarried partner. A family member is defined by statute as:
- Spouses and former spouses
- Parents and grandparents
- Children, grandchildren, and stepchildren
- Any child who is the alleged victim living in the same household as the alleged abuser
- Unmarried partners
Someone convicted of domestic violence in Louisville can be sentenced to jail time. The person may also be ordered to pay fines, attend anger management or counseling, and serve probation for a guilty verdict.
Furthermore, a domestic violence conviction results in a criminal record. A criminal record could impact your career choices, professional licenses, custody cases, and rights to own and possess a firearm.
Victims of domestic violence may also seek an Emergency Protective Order and Domestic Violence Order. Protection orders are civil matters. However, restraining orders can severely limit contact with your children and your ability to freely travel in places where the alleged victim may be located.
What Happens if an Alleged Victim Does Not Want to Press Domestic Violence Charges?
Police officers responding to a complaint will assess the situation. The alleged victim, a neighbor, or another party could call the police to report suspected domestic violence.
A police officer does not need the alleged victim to press charges to make an arrest. The officer only needs to have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed. For example, probable cause could come from statements by eyewitnesses or visible signs of physical injuries on the alleged victim.
Once an arrest for domestic violence is made, the matter is out of the victim’s hands. A victim may tell the prosecutor that they do not want to proceed with a criminal case, but the alleged victim has no power to drop the charges.
If the prosecutor believes that they have sufficient evidence to prove domestic violence, they may proceed with the criminal case. At that point, it is up to a judge whether the case goes forward if the alleged perpetrator pleads not guilty.
What Can the Court Do if the Alleged Victim Does Not Cooperate?
A prosecutor may not need the alleged victim to testify or cooperate to make their case. For example, suppose the prosecutor has eyewitness testimony, medical records, or video evidence. In that case, the prosecutor may decide the evidence is strong enough to obtain a conviction without the alleged victim’s cooperation.
However, if an alleged witness refuses to cooperate, the court may issue a subpoena compelling the person’s appearance in court. If the alleged victim refuses to testify, the judge could order the person in contempt of court. A prosecutor may also use an alleged victim’s prior statement to challenge testimony in court if the alleged victim tries to change their story while testifying at trial.
If an alleged victim refuses to cooperate and the evidence is weak, the prosecutor could choose to drop the criminal charges. If so, the domestic violence charges will not result in a criminal record.
What Can I Do to Defend Charges of Domestic Violence in Louisville?
If you are charged with domestic violence, do not ignore the charges. Even though you are innocent until proven guilty, you need to build a defense against criminal charges. Being innocent does not guarantee that you will not be convicted of domestic violence.
Talk with a Louisville criminal defense lawyer about charges of domestic violence. You could have one or more defenses to the charges that could result in the charges being dismissed. If not, you need a solid defense to fight the charges in court.
Potential defenses to criminal violence charges include:
- Illegal search and seizure
- False allegations
- Lack of probable cause or reasonable suspicion
- Self-defense of yourself or another person
- Mistaken identity
- Other violations of your Constitutional rights
- Lack of evidence
A domestic violence lawyer can evaluate the charges against you and explain your legal rights. Understanding your options for fighting domestic violence charges is the first step in avoiding criminal punishments.