Prosecution of Domestic Violence Cases in New Haven
Anytime a domestic violence allegation in New Haven is made, it is ultimately up to the prosecutor to determine whether they are going to pursue that case. In assessing whether to pursue that case, a prosecutor will very often look to a number of different factors.
The first factor is the allegation brought by the complainant. A prosecutor must take into account whether the allegation is something that can be proven, the severity of the allegation, and whether there are any injuries. The state’s attorney is required to get “victim contact” pursuant to the Connecticut Constitution, but, this is just a factor. In Connecticut the “victim” does not “press charges.” It is up to the state whether to pursue the case and “victim contact” is just one factor the prosecutor will consider. Simply put, they look to the facts and circumstances of that particular incident.
Additionally, the prosecutors will look at the defendant. They will look to the defendant’s criminal history and whether they have had previous domestic violence incidents that have either been dropped or led to convictions. The prosecutor will then consider a number of things in determining whether to continue to pursue a case against the defendant, drop the case, or reach a plea deal.
What Needs to Be Demonstrated
What a prosecutor needs to prove in order to convict someone of domestic violence depends on the specific underlying offense that is alleged. The elements associated with the underlying crime are what need to be proven by the state beyond a reasonable doubt.
For example, to prove an assault in the third degree the state must prove that the defendant,:
(1) Had intent to cause physical injury and
(2) that the defendant caused physical injury.
Testifying in Court
When the defense attorney is unable to work out a deal with the prosecution to either reach a beneficial plea deal or have a case dropped, and the state chooses to move forward with the trial, one of the things that they will typically need to do is have the victim testify. In order to prove the case, very often a victim will need to testify to explain their claim to the jury.
There are risks with that. By putting the victim on the stand, the prosecutor has opened the door to cross examination and questioning about the incident. Very often there are inconsistencies in the testimony, or they made previous allegations, or they do not appear favorable to the jury for some reason. Until that person is up there testifying, it is impossible for the prosecutor to know exactly how a jury is going to react to that person.
Therefore, there are risks with putting a victim on the stand where they are subject to cross examination and the unknown, in front of a jury but it can also provide a benefit to the defense in certain cases.
Importance of An Attorney With Local Experience
It is important that you hire an attorney who has a working relationship with the prosecutor, because it allows your attorney to understand where the state is coming from. It also allows them to know how to present the proper argument to the particular prosecutor or judge. Which is important because different prosecutors and judges have different views are various types of cases and you want a lawyer who can tailor their argument to be effective.
Not every prosecutor is the same. Certain prosecutors react differently to different arguments and the same is true for judges. If your attorney understands those differences, they can use and form their arguments in the way most likely to get the beneficial outcome with that particular prosecutor.