The Admissible Evidence of Prior Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is an abusive or violent pattern of actions or behavior towards another human being in a domestic setting. As simple as it might be to define, the trickier things become when domestic violence enters the courtroom.
Most commonly, it’s a “he said, she said” ordeal with hardly any physical evidence. On top of that, what if the jury doesn’t believe the argument?
In someone’s case, luckily or unluckily, most domestic abusers are not one-time offenders. There should be evidence from past domestic disputes. Some examples of evidence could be threatening text messages, prior restraining orders, medical records, 911 call recordings, pictures of bruises or home damage and even social media posts. It’s good to have this evidence on hand because it’s extremely rare for someone outside of a person’s home to witness the violence.
Example: Let’s say Suzie and Dan have been married for eight years. For the last four years, Dan has been taking out his aggression from a bad job on Suzie. Vulgar comments, shoving and pushing, breaking plates and hitting her after he’s been drinking too much are some of the acts that have occurred. If Suzie sent a text message (with a possible photo included) to a friend when the abuse started happening, she could theoretically use that as evidence if she wanted to pursue a domestic violence case against Dan in the future.
If the evidence is found to be relevant in that case or any case and doesn’t violate the rules of evidence, it would likely be admissible. If Suzie and Dan had a child, the courts would be even more willing to accept prior domestic abuse evidence, especially if custody and visitation rights were to be on the line. Courts are required to review the presence of abuse for a child’s best interests.
The overall intent of using evidence from prior occurrences would be to enhance the abuser’s current charge to one that’s more severe. It is also common for a domestic violence sentence to include a restraining order. If the order is broken once, the abuser will be charged with criminal contempt. Any subsequent violation becomes mandatory jail time.
However, this can all be for not. If a case has already been settled, it cannot be reopened with past evidence in the state on New Jersey due to the principle of Res Judicata. Otherwise known as claim preclusion, this means there has been a final judgment and the case is no longer subject to appeal. It is also meant to bar continued litigation between two parties in a case of related issues.
Domestic violence or abuse can happen physically, sexually, emotionally and economically. Do not be afraid to stand up and say something.
How a Domestic Violence Lawyer Can Help
If you are a victim of domestic violence and you need help with bringing your abuser to justice, we can help. Contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone today for a free consultation.