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Evidence Used in Domestic Violence Cases

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Domestic violence occurs when a person commits a violent or threatening act against someone in his or her family or household. In Washington, domestic violence crimes are taken very seriously and can result in fines and jail time if the defendant is successfully convicted. However, the prosecutor will need strong evidence to prove a domestic violence claim.

Because domestic violence incidents typically take place inside a private household, it can be difficult to prosecute these cases. However, there are several pieces of evidence that prosecutors could leverage to prove a domestic violence case.

Evidence That Can Help Prove a Domestic Violence Case

A Washington domestic violence case must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for a jury to convict the defendant. The prosecutor must provide competent evidence to establish guilt, and the defendant is always presumed innocent unless proven otherwise.

Although gathering evidence can be challenging in these situations, multiple pieces of evidence can help establish that a crime occurred. Prosecutors can use the following documents and records to prove a domestic violence case:

  • Witness Testimony: Not all domestic violence cases happen in private. In some situations, other household members, neighbors, and even passersby see or hear the abuse occur. These individuals can testify in the case about their experiences.
  • Medical Records: If the victim sought medical attention for physical injuries after domestic violence, his or her medical records can be used as evidence. Additionally, the prosecution may bring in a medical expert who can testify about the nature and extent of these injuries.
  • Photographs and Videos: Media like photographs and videos are some of the strongest pieces of evidence in a domestic violence case. This evidence can capture the abuse as it is happening, show the aftermath of a violent incident, and verify important information about the case.
  • Victim Testimony: The testimony of the victim is another strong piece of evidence. The victim is often one of the only parties who knows what truly occurred and can share his or her story in the courtroom.

Special Challenges to Prosecuting a Domestic Violence Case

Because of the nature of domestic violence cases, there are challenges to successfully proving a case beyond a reasonable doubt. First, victims are often reluctant to report alleged abuse in the first place. The majority of domestic violence incidents are not reported to the police for several reasons, such as fear of retribution.

Additionally, the victim may refuse to testify against the defendant when the case goes to trial. Many cases do not involve an ongoing abusive situation, but a misunderstanding or isolated event. In these situations, the alleged victim may refuse to take the stand. 

Finally, a domestic violence case often does not have very much tangible evidence. Many of these alleged incidents happen privately and out of sight of any witnesses. These situations often boil down to the statements of the victim versus the defendant, making it difficult for prosecutors to build a strong case.

Facing a Domestic Violence Conviction? Speak to an Attorney

If you were arrested on domestic violence charges, you need a defense attorney on your side who can fight for your side of the story. As soon as possible after your arrest, contact a Washington domestic violence defense lawyer to discuss your case and plan your next steps.

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