Posted by R. Scott Magee
Many times when there is discord in the family, it has been brewing for months, if not years. And, in many of those instances, disagreements combined with alcohol or stress blow up when one family member or a well-intentioned neighbor calls the police. Then, usually, someone in the family household goes to jail. Once that happens, the person charged (the defendant) along with the rest of the family gets dragged into what we call the “domestic violence meatgrinder.” We call it that because once charges are pending many unintentional things happen to the family as a whole. First, a loved one (the defendant) goes to jail.
Secondly, the other person in the dispute (the complaining witness) often times regrets the decision to involve the police, as it causes damage to the relationship, hurts the kids, or impacts the financial health of the family unit. And, even when the complaining witness tries to get the authorities to drop the charges, they are often unable to do so. Prosecutors are the ones who decide if charges go forward. And, they are often not interested in what the complaining witness thinks. They often chalk it up to “buyer’s remorse” and continue the prosecution of the loved one.
An even more difficult situation arises when the victim-witness coordinator who works for the prosecutors, referred to as the “VAC,” tries to talk the complaining witness out of filing an affidavit of non-prosecution regarding their loved one and may even offer them “victim compensation,” which can be a financial incentive to keep prosecuting the defendant. The state says this is not witness tampering. But, it so obviously seems to be. And, once the person is charged, they face other parts of the “domestic violence meatgrinder” which are also problematic, including facing an emergency protective order that won’t allow them to go home for 30, 60, or even 90 days, limited contact with their children and corresponding involvement with Child Protective Services, and the loss of gun ownership rights. So, these charges are formidable.