Articles Posted in DOMESTIC / FAMILY VIOLENCE

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couple-arguing.jpgEver get into a spat with your spouse? Have you and your girlfriend or boyfriend, brother or sister, son, daughter, or parent been so angry at each other that one or both of you do something you immediately regret? Has it ever resulted in someone calling the police? If so, I’ll bet you never thought somebody would actually be arrested and hauled off to jail, did you? You just wanted the police to come and calm things down, cool things off, right? Then you found out the hard way that that is not a police officer’s job, and they are not your friends, didn’t you? “BUT I DON’T WANNA PRESS CHARGES,” you scream, only to find out that that’s just “TV talk.” Well, you’re not alone. It happens every single day.

Georgia considers domestic violence to be any acts of unwarranted aggression between married or formerly married couples, boyfriends and girlfriends (if they live together, or if they don’t live together but have children together – baby-mamas and baby-daddys), parents and children (including step or foster parents and step or foster children), and siblings; really, pretty much anyone in a domestic relationship.
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tdkrfilesjohndoe.jpgYou might be surprised to learn how easy it is for one person to have a warrant taken out for another person’s arrest. It happens all the time in theft cases; or in fraud cases, if someone passes a bad check; or in assault and battery, and domestic violence cases where police either were not called, or were called but did not discover enough evidence to make an arrest.

The procedure is relatively easy. If a person wants to take out a warrant for your arrest, all they have to do is go to the magistrate court of the county where the alleged wrongdoing took place and fill out a warrant application. The applicant provides as much information as they want to describe why they want a warrant against you. Once the application is filed, the court will send out a notice for you to appear in court before the magistrate judge. Here the applicant will have the opportunity to present whatever evidence they have to support their allegation, and you have the opportunity to defend yourself in an effort to prevent the judge from issuing the warrant.
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pleasestandby.jpgDefense attorneys hear these things all the time. Since the invention of the police drama on television, people have been led to believe that they are the ones in charge when they or someone they know is arrested. “I don’t want to press charges;” or “I want to drop the charges;” or “I was arrested but the other person wants to drop the charges;” or “I was arrested but the police didn’t read my rights to me.” When I tell people these are really just terms of art they are, invariably, disappointed. I used to feel a twinge of guilt for potentially ruining the whole genre for them. But it is a useful lesson.

“I don’t want to press charges.” This is common in domestic or family violence cases and other types of cases involving altercations or interactions (battery, property damage, thefts, frauds, etc.) between people who, once things have calmed down, feel like the whole thing was a misunderstanding and wish they could just handle it between themselves without someone being prosecuted. My answer is always the same: that’s too bad; you are not the one “pressing” the charges; and stop watching cop shows to learn how the law works.

As private citizens, we don’t have that power. The representatives, prosecutors, for the State do. Once you get the police involved and they make an arrest, the State is the only one that can decide whether or not to prosecute the case. We can certainly assist them in their decision by telling them our side of the story. But most of the time, that doesn’t matter. Their job is to prosecute the cases that the police investigate. That being said, the first seven to ten seconds of Law And Order is really the only useful part of the show.
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