Q. I have been charged with a “Domestic Violence” charge, what does that mean?

A. In many instances, prosecutor’s or the courts will designate the crime (whether it is assault, malicious mischief, harassment etc) as a domestic violence or “DV” crime. This usually means that the crime was committed by one family member against another or committed against someone you have a relationship or previous relationship with. With this type of designation, the prosecutor or the court may impose significant conditions at the time or your arraignment or at sentencing. These conditions can include having no contact with the complaining witness, turning in all firearms and concealed weapons permits, or treatment. This list of conditions is not exhaustive. It is very important to have an attorney with you at every stage of this type of case.

Q. I have been served with a Temporary Order of Protection, what should I do?

A. A temporary order of protection is issued by the court when someone goes to court and claims that they need protection from another person. There are many grounds for a protection order but it is usually an allegation of domestic violence. Although the order is civil in nature, it is important to have an experienced criminal attorney with you. The reason is that often times criminal charges can also arise from the same incident that is the basis for the civil protection order. If you go to court on the protection order, you could say or do things in court that may hurt you if you are charged with a crime.

Q. I received this notice to go to court for an arraignment, do I need an attorney before I go?

A. While it is not absolutely necessary, it is a good idea to have an attorney representing you from the beginning of the case. More importantly, there are significant decisions the judge will be making at your arraignment that can affect your case. The judge will be deciding bail, if any, at your arraignment as well as conditions of release. You want someone that knows you and your circumstances to argue whether or not bail is necessary and which conditions should be imposed.