Domestic Assaults Overview
In 1998, the United States Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act. Last year, the Act was amended to include men as victims of domestic violence.
Aggressive Prosecution/Severe Sentences
Since that time, New Hampshire localities have been staffed with Domestic Violence Units which exclusively handle cases involving allegations of domestic crimes, the vast majority of them being assault cases between spouses and intimate partners. The cases are prosecuted vigorously by the State, which usually seeks a jail sentence which is suspended only upon completion of a 36-week Batterers’ Group Counseling paid for at the individual’s own expense.
In virtually every case, an arrest is made, and a restraining order prohibiting contact between the two parties involved issues as part of the bail order.
In addition, the party considered to be the victim is also given the option of filing a Domestic Violence Petition, a civil action which not only prohibits contact, but can also limit custody and visitation rights to one’s own children, and impose child support payments on the parent who is forced to leave the house.
A rigorous defense is required in these cases. Otherwise, the period of time in which an accused is kept from having contact with a wife, partner and possibly children can be prolonged.
Conviction results in a criminal record, with a likelihood of a jail sentence which can be avoided only by 9 months of batterers’ counseling.
Many people who find themselves accused of domestic violence have no prior criminal history or even any interaction with police officers or the courts. An attorney can provide assistance with a defense and some perspective on the situation.
Because much of the impetus for the surge in domestic violence originated at the federal level, a sweeping federal law prohibits certain individuals who are convicted of domestic crimes from carrying firearms. If you fall into this category, and hunting is part of your life, or otherwise feel you must have firearms, you must mention this when speaking with your attorney.