All 3 of our lawyers published in the Bar News last month
February 15th, 2022
Last month, all 3 of the firm's lawyers co-authored an article in the NH Bar News about defending alleged domestic violence cases. The article is available online, and appeared in the print edition of the Bar News which is mailed to every single lawyer who is admitted to practice in NH.
The article has already seen some prosecutorial "blow-back," because we said some uncomfortable truths:
- Domestic violence - actual violence, and false accusations of domestic violence - runs across all income levels, education levels, social status in America.
- A large percentage of domestic violence claims are true, but there are still many claims, by men and women, which are false or exaggerated. Juries recognize this. They have found our clients not guilty in five consecutive felony and misdemeanor domestic violence jury trials.
- People make false accusations out of base human motives: Anger, revenge, jealousy, trying to get an upper hand in a marital and/or child custody dispute. Mental illness and alcohol/substance abuse also plays a huge role.
- When the accused is removed from his or her home by the State, in the name of protecting the victim/complainant, its sometimes or even often done against the complainant's wishes, and against the complainant's interests. Many complainants find themselves burdened with unintended and unwanted protective orders against their significant others. As a result, they have to do all of the childcare, all of the work around the house, and may have to do so with less income or greater expenses because the accused has to pay for a hotel or apartment.
- Sometimes, actors in the criminal justice system who vilify the accused in a domestic violence case, seem to have little or no empathy for a person accused of drug or other crimes who himself or herself has been a victim of domestic violence.
- However, this is the exception. We have found that most NH prosecutors recognize that victims of domestic violence suffer lifelong consequences that can lead to alcoholism, substance abuse, disabling mental conditions such as PTSD, leading to involvement in the criminal justice system.
As we said in the article, don't get us wrong. Domestic violence is a terrible scourge that inflicts great harm on our society. Many victims need no-contact orders for their own protection, the protection of their family and property, and for their own peace of mind.
We are not here to vilify people who accuse our clients of domestic violence. We have great empathy to victims of domestic violence. Why? Because, as Richard discussed in the article, many of our clients, facing drug or other criminal charges, are themselves long-term victims of domestic violence, as children, or as adults, or both. We work with people every day who have been victims of terrible domestic violence. In addition to defending their cases, we try to get them help from other professionals so they can heal and develop new coping mechanisms for the trauma inflicted on them in the past by other household members.