Domestic Violence can be very serious, and often it requires immediate law enforcement intervention to protect the parties. The police, the courts and prosecutors take it very seriously as well.
Often, however, the person making the call does not realize how seriously it is taken. It happens all the time. During the heat of an argument, one of the parties calls the for a any number of reasons other than a real threat to his or her safety.
Frequently, there is no violence, threats, or harm of any kind other than hurt feelings. No act of domestic violence has in fact occurred under the Statutory Definitions of Domestic Violence in New Mexico. The party calling the police has called for the wrong reasons whatever those reasons may be.
Immediately, the caller realizes the mistake that he or she has made. Typically, the other party is arrested. On occasion, the caller is arrested. Inevitably, somebody is arrested. Police officers do not make courtesy calls for domestic disputes. They don‘t show up to help the parties talk out their problems.
Somebody is leaving the home in handcuffs!
It often does not matter that the caller recants sometimes begging the police not to arrest their partner or spouse. It doesn‘t matter later when the caller contacts the prosecutor explaining that he or she does not wish to prosecute.
The criminal justice system has been set in motion and the couple is in for a long, stressful and often expensive ride.
I get the call all the time where my client explains that his or her partner does not wish to pursue the charges. In fact, these are generally the first words from my clients mouth in cases of domestic violence.
Despite the lack of reason or rationality, and even in the face of clear evidence that there was no domestic violence, prosecutors generally will not drop the charges. Instead, my client and his or her partner or spouse must endure the long and often frustrating criminal justice process as the case makes its way through the system.
This is the bad news. The good news is that eventually these types of case generally get dismissed. In the end, the prosecutor cannot prosecute a case without a cooperative victim. Typically, these cases will get dismissed due to the refusal or failure of the alleged victim to appear in court.
The prosecutor can, and will in serious cases of domestic violence, subpoena the victim to court. However, if it does go to trial, and the victim testifies that there was no act of domestic violence, then the client will be found not guilty.
The problem is that this process takes up to 6 months before the case is finally dismissed or taken to trial.
In the meantime, the client and the partner or spouse must suffer the emotional and financial stresses of court. Worse yet, the parties may be prohibited from contact during this entire time period placing enormous financial and emotional strain on the parties and their family.
So what is the lesson here? Don‘t call the cops unless you really need them. If you need marital counseling, get it. Cops are a very poor and expensive alternative to counseling.
New Mexico Domestic Violence Laws
Collateral Consequences of Domestic Violence Findings Can be Worse than Criminal Penalties
Conditions of Release on Domestic Violence Charges in Albuquerque