By: Vic Carmody, Mississippi Super Lawyer and Martindale-Hubbell “av” (highest) rated domestic violence attorney for over 40 Years
As a former Jackson Police Patrolman, I have firsthand knowledge of law enforcement intrusion upon a family in crisis. When families are falling apart due to financial stress and setbacks (like the Corona outbreak sidelining America), they turn to law enforcement to deal with the abusive or physically violent things that have occurred.
As a police officer, I was trained to recognize that a call for a “family disturbance” was one of the most dangerous assignments a police officer could receive. Family disturbances were often unpredictable and usually happened on the 3-11 or 11-7 shift when families were not at work. Most involved the use of alcohol-based beverages or drugs for one or both participants in the call. Plus, for our safety reasons, the police response required more than one officer to respond.
The officers had a limited number of actions they could take:
- Remove the offender from the scene in order for the tempers and emotions to cool down;
- If charges were to be filed, the victim must sign affidavits to bring charges against the offender. The victim would be instructed to go to the police headquarters to file charges in order for the police to affect an arrest, since the officers answering the call did not see the offender commit these acts of violence abuse or;
- Law enforcement could secure the scene and try to deescalate the situation in hopes of allowing the parties to reconcile their differences.
The vast majority of “Domestic Disturbances” ended either with the victim appearing at trial on simple assault with a plea to the court to dismiss the charges due to a “change of heart” or that the parties had reconciled.
Now fast forward forty years to how this matter is processed today. First, our nation now has updated and aggressive spousal abuse and domestic violence statutes in all states. In almost all states, these laws have been strengthened to protect the alleged victims. This takes away officer discretion, on whether to arrest or not.
Such “pro-victim” statutes enable law enforcement officers, who respond to call for assistance with domestic disturbances to arrest any time visible wounds are observed on the victim. Plus, this leads to immediate charges against the offender merely based on the officer’s viewing the victim’s injuries and the hearsay report. If witnesses saw the violence, the arrest can be based on these statements and accounts plus bleeding, bruises, cuts or similar evidence of physical engagement.
Officers may then use statements from the victim to verify the DV charges. The officers then arrest and remove the offender to a local jail and sign sworn affidavits of arrest against the offender. Whether the arrested party obtains bond is up to a judge.
Later, the arresting officer’s testimony at trial can constitute enough evidence for a jury to find the offender guilty of the charges of Family Violence. In many cases, pressure put on the victim to not press charges may cause her or him to be a reluctant witness.
Our clients are accused on DV, who have been arrested or are facing charges of domestic violence in the City and Justice Courts of Hinds County, Rankin County, and Madison County.
Our law office is located at 781 Liberty Road, Flowood, Mississippi 39232. Our core practice areas are in the tri-county area surrounding Jackson, MS. Along with Kevin Stewart and Lance Mixon, our domestic violence lawyers represent accused clients in the south-central counties of Mississippi. Call today: 601-360-3847.