911 Calls Can Be Used as Evidence in Domestic Battery Cases
by Sean McQuaid on February 9th, 2021 in Criminal Defense
Domestic battery arrests can happen to anyone at any time. They are surprisingly common and affect people regardless of money, where you live, and whether you have been in trouble before. Unlike most other criminal charges, domestic battery cases require strategic planning. In the days after the arrest, with proper decisions, you can drastically increase your chances to get the case dismissed. The purpose of this article addresses one of the pitfalls that face defendants in these cases, the 911 call.
The 911 call is often overlooked by defendants and their lawyers-but not the prosecutors.
In every domestic battery case, someone calls 911. The call is a public record and anyone can get a copy of it. The prosecutor will always order a copy of it as a matter of course. What they find on that 911 call can change the direction of a case.
How Can a 911 Call Be Used by a Prosecutor?
The 911 call can be admitted into evidence in every case. Every jury can listen to it regardless whether the caller even testifies. So, it can be a powerful tool. It also can be used to impeach a witness. In other words, if the victim of a domestic battery tells a story that is different from what is on the 911 call, the call can be used to discredit the witness.
Now, most cases do not go to trial, so what is the real purpose of the 911 call? It is used by the prosecutor to judge how bad the situation really was. If the victim sounds terrorized on the call, the prosecutor is more likely to get involved. Just as important, the prosecutor will use what was said on the call to compare to what the victim is saying now. Following the arrest, every prosecutor will call the victim during the investigation stage. If they can’t get in touch with the victim, they can send out a subpoena to force the person to cooperate. In felony cases, they will sometimes even send out the police officer to pick the person up and bring them in for an interview. During this investigation, the prosecutor will ask the victim what happened. If the story does not match what the person said on the 911 call, the prosecutor will use that to pressure the person into telling the truth. Therefore, being aware of what was said on the 911 call is important to know and be prepared to address.
What is the Mindset of the Prosecutor in a Domestic Battery Case?
In the simplest terms, the prosecutor views him or herself as the parent. If the children (defendant and victim) can’t get along, the parent might have to step in. The prosecutor will listen to the victim’s wishes about whether to prosecute, but that request is just a small part of the equation. The prosecutor will determine if the case can be proven and then decide whether it should be brought. If there are injuries or any type of history of police involvement, the case is more likely to be brought. The prosecutor will try to decide whether the court system should force the victim and defendant to get help and control the situation.
Should You Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney?
Many people are told to just wait for a court notice. This is the biggest mistake that you can make. If you are not proactive, you will lose your best chance to get the case dismissed. Having a lawyer orchestrating a strategy for your defense during the investigation phase will dramatically increase your chances at getting the case dropped. Your goal in every case is to convince the prosecutor to drop the case without filing a formal charge. If you sit back and wait for a court date, who is advocating on your behalf? No one? Your public defender? The reality is that if you do not hire a criminal defense lawyer, the only thing the prosecutor is going to hear is one side of the story-what the cops tell them. So, even though it may cost some money that you don’t want to spend, hire a lawyer. I guarantee that hiring a lawyer will ultimately save you money, time, and aggravation in the future.