Rhode Island and Massachusetts Domestic Violence Lawyer
Domestic violence offenses are those that take place between relatives, individuals who have been in a relationship within the past year, individuals who share a child together, or cohabitants of at least three years. In Rhode Island, if a police officer responds to a call for domestic violence, and has probable cause to believe that a crime as been committed, the officer is required by law to make an arrest.
As a former prosecutor, Attorney Kilroy has litigated countless domestic violence cases. Attorney Noah J. Kilroy now uses that experience to mount an aggressive defense on your behalf. Because evidence can go stale and witnesses tend to change their mind or forget critical facts that may exonerate you, it is critical that you contact our office immediately if you have been charged with domestic violence. You need our domestic violence lawyer on your case.
Unfortunately, domestic violence happens all too often in our society. Domestic violence affects women, men, and children; the aftermath may be devastating to everyone involved. Domestic violence disputes involving professional athletes, celebrities, and other public figures seem to appear in the national media on a weekly basis.
Unfortunately, not all domestic violence accusations are true, and many innocent defendants are left to deal with the consequences. While we should always take domestic violence matters seriously, the sad reality is that many claims of this type of violence are unfounded and without merit. In many circumstances, an individual alleging domestic violence does so for reasons other than abuse. For example, some individuals falsely allege domestic violence in a misguided effort to gain leverage in divorce and/or child custody matters. Revenge is also another motivation for false accusations. These false claims result in extreme injustice to innocent defendants, as well as those individuals who truly suffer from domestic violence. Specifically, when an individual files a false or inaccurate domestic violence claim, the accused may suffer negative, life-altering consequences with respect to custody of his or her children, termination of employment and volunteer work, the possibility of jail time, and a severe financial burden.
Understanding Domestic Violence
In Rhode Island and Massachusetts, domestic violence offenses are those that take place between relatives, individuals who have been in a relationship within the past year, individuals who share a child together, and/or those who have lived together for at least three years. If a police officer responds to a call for domestic violence, and he or she has probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, the officer is required by law to make an arrest. In other words, if an officer has probable cause to believe that the accused committed felony assault, physical threat of harm, or a violation of an existing protective order, an arrest will take place.
What If the Victim Does Not Press Charges?
Currently, the protocol of most Massachusetts and Rhode Island police departments dictates that an officer must arrest the accused even if the victim recants his or her allegations at the scene of the incident. This is true even if no other evidence exists to support the allegation of domestic violence. This “better safe than sorry” approach is understandable, of course. However, the practice allows for may arrests to take place based on very little or no evidence of a crime.
How Domestic Violence will Classify
If you face a domestic violence charge, the punishment you receive if convicted depends on the specific facts of your case. Certain domestic assault and battery charges are misdemeanors; a convicted defendant faces up to several months of prison time and significant fines. Even if a defendant receives probation rather than a prison sentence, it is not cheap. The court will often require the convicted individual to complete certified domestic violence and anger management programs, some of which may cost more than $3,500.
In other cases, charges may amount to aggravated domestic violence, which is a felony offense. In these situations, the penalties may include several years in prison. Prosecutors bring aggravated domestic violence charges when the accused seriously injured the victim, the victim is pregnant, or the victim is over 65 years old. Also, if an outstanding no contact order was in place during the time of the alleged violence, prosecutors will seek aggravated charges. If a dangerous weapon is involved, the penalties are even more substantial.
Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders
In addition to facing potential criminal penalties, domestic violence allegations can result in a civil restraining order being placed against you. These orders prohibit you from having contact with the alleged victim and can have a significant impact on your life.
Rhode Island refers to these orders as “restraining orders.” These orders may have the following legal effects:
- Prohibits physical contact and contact via phone, letter or electronic communication, or through a third party
- Can order support payments; valid for up to 90 days
- Can award temporary custody and visitation
- Can order the defendant to move out of a shared residence
The temporary order is valid for up to 21 days. If the permanent order is granted, it is effective for up to three years. It can be extended near the time of the expiration of three years.
Violating a family or district court restraining order is considered a criminal offense and can be punished by up to one year in prison and a fine of up to $1,000.
209A Protective Orders
Massachusetts uses a 209A protective order to protect victims of domestic violence. These orders are made in civil cases. However, violation of them can result in criminal charges. The initial order can last up to a year, but after that, it can be extended to be a permanent order in some situations.
209A protective orders can impact defendants in a number of key ways. The defendant may be ordered to:
- Not have any contact with the victim
- Move out of a shared residence and stay away from the home
- Pay temporary child or spousal support
- Have visitation with any shared children with the alleged victim and award temporary custody to the alleged victim
- Pay for any damages caused by the abuse like medical expenses or lost wages
- Turn over any firearms in their possession
- Attend a batterer intervention program
Can a Domestic Violence Conviction Results in Severe Penalties?
As discussed, a mere allegation of or an arrest for domestic violence can have very serious consequences. If you were arrested for domestic violence, it is best to consult with an experienced, reputable criminal defense attorney specializing in domestic violence defense as soon as possible.
As a former prosecutor, Attorney Noah J. Kilroy litigated countless domestic violence cases. Attorney Kilroy now uses that experience to mount aggressive defense strategies on behalf of his clients in a number of jurisdictions. Because evidence can go stale, and because witnesses tend to change their mind or forget critical facts that may exonerate the accused, it is critical that you contact our office immediately if you have been charged with domestic violence. You need our domestic violence lawyer on your case. Contact Us, or call or text us at (401) 855-9023, to take advantage of our free consultation and Best-Price Guarantee.