Case Studies: Domestic Violence

Teacher Avoids Domestic Violence Conviction and School Discipline

A high school teacher retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after his arrest on assault and harassment charges with a domestic violence enhancement. The charges arose out of a 911 call his wife made after they got into a heated argument over finances, relatives, and intimate relations. They had both regretted the argument, and the wife had regretted the 911 call, even before the police had arrived. And they both explained to the police that although they had argued to the point that the wife had been scared, they had no need for police assistance. But police removed the husband in any case, according to state law and local practice, for the prosecutor to issue the charges. The charges further required the school to suspend our client from his teaching duties. Our client and his wife shared the common goal of gaining the husband's reinstatement to work as soon as possible without longer-term effects on his teacher certification and employment. We notified the prosecutor, with whom our lead defense attorney had a long-standing professional relationship, of the needs and desires of our defendant client and the putative complainant wife for a swift resolution due, especially to the employment situation. Our proposal, supported by our client, was for a dismissal conditioned on our client attending and completing marriage counseling with his wife, including submitting to any evaluation the counselor recommended for anger management, substance abuse, or other concern. The prosecutor agreed to the proposal, and the school reinstated our client to the classroom upon entry of the appropriate orders.

Security Consultant Successfully Defeats Domestic Violence Enhancement

A security consultant retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after his companion complained to police that our client had struck and injured her, and prosecutors accordingly issued assault charges with a domestic violence enhancement. Our client maintained that he had not struck his companion but only grabbed her arm and knocked a broom handle from it to prevent her from smashing more household items with it in anger. Our client believed that his companion had pursued the charges proactively out of fear that our client would pursue charges first for the property damage and destruction. Our investigation showed the undisputed fact that the consultant and his companion only had a friendship, not a romantic involvement. Our investigation further showed that they had not lived together and only periodically visited one another's homes when preparing for social outings together. Our lead defense attorney used the preliminary hearing to confirm that the prosecutor had no contrary evidence. Our lead defense attorney thus moved at the preliminary hearing's conclusion for dismissal of the domestic violence enhancement for failure to satisfy the relationship element. The trial judge agreed, dismissing the enhancement and leaving only the simple assault charge. Our strategy was then to delay proceedings while our client and his companion cooled off and settled their differences. That soon happened, after which the companion informed the prosecutor that she would not testify voluntarily and wished to drop the charges. The prosecutor sought dismissal of the charges, which the court approved.

Graduate Student Avoids Domestic Violence Conviction, Preserving Studies

A graduate student at a New Jersey public university retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after the student's co-ed roommate complained to police of a sexual assault, and prosecutors filed sexual assault charges with a domestic violence enhancement. Our client maintained that the roommate, one of a number of other roommates in an off-campus house, had fabricated the charge or if she had suffered an assault, that another roommate or other person had committed it. Our client's account, corroborated with witness statements our investigator secured, indicated that one of the roommates had held a party at the house to which guests had brought copious quantities of alcohol. Our client had grown so concerned about the declining climate of the party that he had left to stay at a friend's house. He had returned in the early morning and gone to bed without apparent incident, only to have police arrive at the house in the late morning to arrest him. Our lead defense attorney raised our client's alibi defense after the preliminary hearing, at which it was apparent that the complaining roommate's identification of her attacker was at least uncertain. As a result, the prosecution encouraged detectives to further investigate, including confirming our client's alibi. Their investigation resulted in charges against a different defendant for the same conduct, following which the prosecutor dismissed the charges against our client.

Truck Driver Defeats Harassment and Domestic Violence Charges

A truck driver retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after his arrest on harassment charges with a domestic violence enhancement. The charges had to do with our client's communications with his significant other, with whom he had a young child, while our driver was away on a long-haul trip. Our client admitted that he and his significant other had argued over the child's care when he had been preparing for his trip. Our client had questions about her fitness to care for their child, which had angered her, leading to his own escalation of their argument. He had left for the trip while they were both still angry. His texts and calls to her had persisted throughout the trip, at all hours, and at times expressing great anger, concern, and emotion. Unknown to our client, his significant other had already complained to the police about what she interpreted to be his threats, and police were monitoring his messages. Police arrested our client on his return from the trip. Our review of our client's text raised significant questions about whether they qualified as harassment under the statute's definition. Our client agreed to a strategic approach of delaying the criminal proceeding while we challenged that definitional issue, and our client sought to repair his relationship with his child's mother and improve their living arrangements. Our client and his significant other agreed on her mother providing daycare while she resumed part-time employment. Our client and his significant other also got engaged. We disclosed these developments at a pretrial conference the court scheduled to hear how the sides intended to address the definitional issue. The prosecutor agreed to a dismissal of the charges at the conference.

Pharmacist Defeats Kidnapping and Domestic Violence Charges

A pharmacist retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after his arrest on charges of criminal restraint and kidnapping with a domestic violence enhancement. The charges arose out of a date the pharmacist had with a pharmacy assistant. After work, the two had gone out for dinner, drinks, and club dancing. They had retired late at night to the pharmacist's residence where, according to the assistant's complaint, the pharmacist had plied the assistant with a drink to which he had added a sedative to act as a sleep agent. The assistant maintained that she had, in fact, fallen asleep at the pharmacist's residence, only to awake the next morning partially unclothed. Her complaint to the police and the criminal charges followed. Our client maintained that although her account was largely accurate, he had not forced or tricked her into drinking anything but that she had requested and taken the sedative because of a headache and inability to fall asleep. He had not removed her clothing except to loosen her clothing to ensure that she could sleep comfortably and safely. He also maintained that they had no intimacy at his residence that evening, although they had engaged in some intimacy at the club. Our Criminal Defense Team took the strategic approach of helping the assistant recognize the reasonableness and probable accuracy of our client's account, consistent with his good character. Our client took and passed a lie detector test, the results of which we shared with the prosecutor to share with the assistant. The assistant withdrew the complaint, and the prosecutor dismissed the charge.

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