domestic violence

How to Approach Domestic Abuse Assault Charges

Being charged with domestic abuse assault can be a very stressful and hard time for anyone to go through here in Iowa. In most instances, it is both hard you and your significant other as the police were called to your residence over a rather heated argument and someone was shoved, pushed, or hit. In Iowa, since this is considered a domestic assault, someone is likely going to jail. Consequently, a no-contact order is put in place preventing the two parties from communicating or contacting one another. If a party violates the no-contact order as a result of contempt, there is a minimum of seven (7) days in jail for the violation. And that is just the minimum; it could range anywhere from seven (7) days to one hundred and eighty (180) days in jail. By the way, each jail day served usually costs about $75.00. You ask isn’t this a little harsh? In my opinion, it is very harsh in most instances, especially when the domestic was caused by a little push or shove.

In my experience (and I have handled a lot of domestic cases) about 85% of cases involve two parties getting into a heated argument where someone is scratched, bruised, or little injury is caused. As a result, one of the parties or a household member calls the police. The police arrive and attempt to defuse the situation and try to figure out who assaulted who. In some cases, it seems like they just pick someone based on credibility to arrest because they really don’t know from the facts who assaulted who. Under the law, law enforcement has little discretion on whether they can arrest someone in these domestic situations. If they see an injury, no matter how significant, they are required to arrest someone under the circumstances. In my opinion, officers need to be given discretion is these situations.

After one of the parties is arrested and bonds out, he or she has no place to reside because there is a no-contact order in place. This puts a heavy burden on the now defendant because he or she has to rent a hotel or move in with a family member or friend, if they even have any in the area. It also puts a heavy burden on the protected party because if the two parties have children together, the protected party is solely responsible for taking care of the children because the defendant is not allowed in the vicinity of his residence where the children live or allowed to communicate with the protected party. As a result, this can cost the family thousands of dollars for housing the defendant and potential daycare costs for the children. It can also be a burden for other family members as they have to step in the shoes of the defendant and take care of the children. The children will wonder what happened to their father or mother, which can have a heavy impact on their lives. Simply put, this is a huge burden that uses up a lot of financial resources because one spouse decided to push another spouse.

After the two parties realize how harsh the situation is, they usually try to get into contact with a lawyer (This is where I come into the situation). I receive calls from both the protected party and defendant because they both want to know how to handle the situation most efficiently and quickly as possible. When receiving a call from the protected party, they almost always want the no-contact order dropped or canceled and they do not know what to do. In order for a no-contact order to be dropped, an application needs to be filed with the court to have it dropped. It needs to be specific, which is why it is a good idea to have a lawyer draft this document for you. A protected party simply does not just have a no-contact order dropped because they want it dropped. Unfortunately, the legal process is not that simple.

Before dropping a no-contact order, the court generally likes there to be a cooling-off period before dropping the no-contact order. Further, it looks to whether there have been prior incidents between the two parties. If there are prior incidences between the two parties, it is less likely the no-contact order will be dropped. There usually needs to be a hearing as well for the court to determine whether or not to drop the no-contact order. To avoid confusion, the Court’s “default rule” is to deny applications to cancel no-contact orders until the defendant’s case is over. If you are the protected party in a domestic assault case and want the no-contact order dropped, it is best you contact an attorney to help you out with this process.

When I receive the calls from defendants, I usually hear how the situation has significantly altered their life. There are examples such as they cannot see their children or that their bank account is draining. An attorney can usually point you in the right direction regarding these issues. Further, it should be noted that through an attorney is the only way you can legally communicate through a no-contact order with the protected party. In other words, an attorney can sort some minor details out for the defendant. Another advantage of retaining an attorney is that we can get the ball rolling for you. Some domestic cases can last up to six (6) months or even longer; an attorney can usually speed this process up for you.

Now I understand that in some domestic situations the injuries are very serious and leave a very significant impact on the other party. And these situations need the no-contact orders placed on the defendant even after the defendant’s case is over. But in most situations, that just simply is not the case. With respect to the no-contact order being entered, it does not matter whether the protected party had a scratch or very serious injuries; a no-contact order is being entered against the defendant if a domestic assault occurred. As I stated above, in my experience, both parties usually want the no-contact order dropped within a day or two as the situation usually involved alcohol and one party pushing the other party’s buttons too far. With Iowa law currently, plan on it taking longer than a day or two to have the no-contact order dropped.

Regardless of your situation, it always a good idea to get an attorney on your side as there is a lot at stake. You can lose your right to possess guns and your right to vote if you are convicted of certain types of domestics. More importantly, you do not want a domestic assault conviction on your criminal record as employers do not look highly upon it.

If you have been charged with a domestic assault, do not hesitate to contact the Feld Law Firm at (515) 996-4441 for further advice.

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