Proving Domestic Violence in New York

Proving domestic violence in New York is about proving that an individual has committed the individual elements of a crime. The prosecution takes their job seriously and often prosecutes domestic violence offenses vigilantly. That is why it is important to work with an equally vigilant domestic violence defense attorney. If you have been charged with domestic violence, seek experienced legal counsel and know that you are in capable hands.

What the Prosecutor Must Prove

To convict somebody, there either needs to be a plea, meaning that the defendant voluntarily pleads guilty in return for some concessions by the prosecutor, or the case goes to trial and a person is either convicted or acquitted. Obviously, for a defendant to be convicted through a plea bargain, the defendant has to agree to the terms, but also must make a statement on the record, called an allocution, in which they admit that they committed the actions which constitute the crime that they ultimately agreed to plead guilty to.

To convict somebody at trial, the prosecutor has the duty of proving domestic violence in New York by proving each of the elements of the crime that the defendant allegedly committed. In a domestic violence case, since there is no straight domestic violence charge in the penal law, the prosecutor will have to establish whatever crime the person is actually charged with.

Evidence-Based Prosecution

An evidence-based prosecution is a way for the prosecutor to attempt proving domestic violence in New York and all of the elements of the offense, without the victim’s testimony. For instance, in an assault case, rather than putting the actual complainant or victim on the stand to testify about the assault, they can submit a sworn affidavit, indicating what happened, along with medical records to demonstrate that the person was injured.

Sometimes, prosecutors will do this if their complainant stops being cooperative. They can use the domestic incident report, which is filled out right after placing the defendant under arrest. In the second page of a domestic incident report is a sworn statement about what happened. Prosecutors will sometimes attempt to use that as proof that the defendant is the one who committed certain actions and then put in whatever supplementary evidence they have, whether medical records, an EMS card, testimony by an EMS worker that they observed the person bleeding and they were told that it was from being punched or cut or whatever it was by the defendant. But in any event, it is a way to try and prosecute a case without the complaining witness.

Potential Benefits of a Prosecutor Putting an Alleged Victim on the Stand

The prosecutor, more or less, has to put the alleged victim on the stand to prove the elements of the case. Most of the domestic violence charges have some sort of element that needs to be proved through the complainant's testimony.

If it is an assault case, then the complainant needs to testify to the fact that they were injured in some way, that they felt some pain and discomfort, that they were bruised, cut, scratched, etc. 

If it is a case where the complainant was threatened, then they have to testify to the fact that they were in fear and they were concerned that a physical injury was about to befall them. So, it is not necessarily about the benefits of a prosecutor putting an alleged victim on the stand. Instead, it is about the necessity of a prosecutor putting the victim on the stand.

Challenges When a Prosecutor Puts an Alleged Victim on the Stand

Once the prosecutor is done with the direct examination, the defense attorney has an opportunity to cross-examine the alleged victim. Through cross-examination, a good defense attorney may be able to expose lies that an alleged victim or complainant tells. So, if the prosecutor has a complainant who is not being truthful about what happened, they can face having their victim exposed for the lies that they told while they were on the stand. 

It is always a challenge – either as a prosecutor or a defense attorney – anytime someone wants to put a witness on the stand, they need to not only have covered the testimony that they want to elicit through direct examination but they want to be able to potentially anticipate what will happen on cross-examination. The challenges involved in this process are the preparation for cross-examination and uncovering sufficient information about the complainant to impeach their credibility or establish their biases or motivations to lie so that the jury is fully informed.

Contacting a New York Domestic Violence Lawyer

If you have been charged with domestic violence and want to know more about how the prosecution sets about proving domestic violence in New York, consult a qualified attorney that can help. A skilled attorney can begin collecting evidence in order to build your defense. They could also file a motion for discovery, in order to see what evidence the prosecution has and begin disproving the prosecution’s argument. Work with a lawyer that can advocate for you.