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Phone Calls From Jail Become Evidence In Domestic Violence Cases

Domestic violence can be a difficult crime to sort out. The victims of domestic violence are intimately connected to their alleged offenders, and sometimes the normal necessities of marriage or relationships can complicate a domestic violence criminal case.

For instance, when someone has been accused of domestic violence and arrested by police, he will likely spend at least one night in jail. But if arrangements need to be made for his children or his job, he will probably need to talk to his wife on the phone from the jail. If his wife was the alleged victim of domestic violence, even mundane phone calls to her can be a problem.

Nearly every call which an inmate makes from jail or prison is recorded. In many cases involving domestic violence, the conversations on those recordings will be used against an inmate during the trial.

Consider the scenario above which involved a husband and wife. The husband may need to call his wife to make arrangements for taking care of the family, or just to try and straighten things out. He might not say anything incriminating. However, just calling his wife could be a crime.

Domestic violence arrests usually come with a "no-contact order" attached. This means that the defendant is not allowed to make any contact with his accuser before the trial. Even if a phone call was innocent, prosecutors can and do charge defendants with violation of no-contact orders.

Of course, anything from the recorded conversation is also fair game to be used against the defendant. If a man feels he was wrongly arrested on false domestic violence charges, he may be pretty angry. He may even wish to call his accuser and demand an explanation. This is a bad idea.

Anything from the recorded conversation which sounds like a threat can and will be used against the defendant in court. The best course of action is to avoid communication until the situation has calmed down. Then, speak with a lawyer before speaking with anyone else.

Domestic violence is a serious issue. Even false accusations can be enough to ruin a defendant's reputation. Those accused of domestic violence need to know that their behavior before trial can greatly impact whether they are found guilty or innocent.

Source: MPR News online, "Calls from jail shed light on intimate crime," Sasha Aslanian, 02 March 2011

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