What is the Process of an Arrest for a Domestic Violence Charge?

Interviewer: What’s the process like? Let’s say I get arrested. What happens as I go to jail, will I qualify for bail?

Gary Churak: You get arrested. You’re taken before a magistrate. The magistrate then reads you your rights, tells you what you’ve been charged with, and then once you have seen the magistrate you’re taken over to the BearCounty Jail and booked into the jail.

After an Arrest, You Will Have a $3,500 Bond to Post to Be Released from Jail

At that point in time, once you’re booked in you’re in a computer, your bond is on the record so you try to get a hold of family member to bond you out. Bonds for these types of cases usually run about $3,500, which is the standard bond for the first-time family violence case.

Depending on Which County the Case Is Located, You Will Be Assigned a First Court Date after You Post Bond

So you’ll bond out and you will be given a court date depending on where the case is located. Some counties have actual domestic violence courts like Bear County does. It has 2 courts that handle nothing but family violence cases.  Other counties, your court date may not be that quick because it’ll take a time for them to process it. Then you’ll have your initial court date. They’ll want to know whether you have your lawyer or you need a court-appointed lawyer and the legal system proceeds that way.

You Will Need to Retain an Attorney Prior to the First Court date So He or She Can begin to Work on a Defense or a Dismissal

Your attorney will get to see all the evidence, will read the reports, and find out what the family relationship is. Many times we’ll work on trying to get the case dismissed by having the individual sign an affidavit of non-prosecution and sometimes that works. But usually you have to take it all the way to the trial docket to get that done where you’re on the trial docket and they’re calling their witness and the case eventually gets dismissed because they don’t have their witnesses. That’s one way to work it.

The other way is basically you pick a jury and you try the case. On these types of cases we often have a self-defense issue. If you’ve got mutual combat and they’re fighting and arguing together, it’s hard to convince a jury on which party did the assault.

A Not Guilty Verdict, a Dismissal or a Plea Bargain

The policy is they only arrest one person. I’ve had cases where I’ve had pictures of the defendant that were much worse than the complaining witness. The witness had a scratch or two on her and the man had a black eye and bruised up. If the DA won’t drop the case, you go to trial and you run that avenue and try to get a not-guilty verdict.

The third option is basically you take a plea-bargain agreement and sometimes you can get it knocked down to a class-C misdemeanor, simple assault. If that’s the case you can do an expungement or if you do a class-B, deferred adjudication, you don’t have a conviction but it’s on your record.

Are Domestic Violence Cases Defensible?

Interviewer: So how often do you see people winning cases?

The Key Is Retaining the Right Attorney

Gary Churak: I’ve had a very good record. I’ve probably got a 90%-plus record on either getting these cases dismissed or a not guilty verdict in my career. I have never had a person found guilty in a trial. I’ve done some plea-bargain agreements. My cases have resulted in a lot of not-guilty verdicts, and I’ve had a ton of cases dismissed. Each attorney’s got their own different case, but me, I’ve got a pretty strong record of getting these cases resolved, satisfactory for the client.