with an Order of Protection
I recently won a trial for a client charged with Domestic Battery. When the case was filed against him the alleged victim had the State’s Attorney file a companion Order of Protection. When this happens the defendant is not only facing a criminal charge but they also have to overcome a civil order of protection.
In this case, the victim alleged that my client punched her in the face and then pushed her to the ground. In fact, this was the second time this woman had accused him of abusing her. Earlier in the year, the woman claimed that my client attacked her with a knife, drove her to a location in the suburbs and then forcibly puller her out of the car.
Prior to trial, the State’s Attorney’s Office filed a Motion to Include Proof of Other Crimes. This is a pretrial motion asking a judge to allow evidence of a previous alleged incident to prove the allegation of current charge. Generally, information about previous incident is not allowed at trial. The exception is in sex cases or domestic battery cases. At the hearing on the Motion, I used case law to prove to the judge that previous allegation were more prejudicial than probative to be allowed at trial. The judge agreed with me as to the criminal trial but said that the previous alleged incident could be used in the trial for the Order of Protection only.
On the day of trial the Judge ordered us to do a double trial. This means, we had to have a trial for both the Order of Protection and the criminal case. At trial, the State presented the alleged victim as their only witness. They also presented a number of photos of the alleged victim’s injuries. The victim testified that my client got mad at her for her calling the police on the previous incident. She testified that my client yelled, “this is for the attorney’s fees,” and then he punched her in the face.
When I was able to question the victim, I got her to testify that she then argued with my client about how he was upset that she had previously accused him of Domestic Battery. She testified, that the argument lasted for several minutes. When I asked her these questions, I knew that she was lying because I had already seen in-home surveillance video of the two parties and they never argued about the previous charge. Not once. I got her to admit that she felt my client had abused her when he would not help her get a job. I was able to prove that her understanding of “abuse” had nothing to do with a battery. I was also able to get her to admit that she suffer from mental health issue including attempts at suicide.
When we presented our Defense, I had the Defendant testify about his side of the story and also presented about the two hours of video. When my client testified he denied the allegation. He explained to the Court that on the day of the incident, the alleged victim was having a manic episode, attempted to kill herself and he intervened to prevent her from killing herself. He testified that after he intervened, she attacked him. He then defended himself and pushed her down. At the end of his testimony, we requested that the Judge watch the surveillance video of the incident.
The Judge held that, she did not believe the victim’s testimony. The judge stated, during the two hours of video, the victim nor the defendant mentioned anything about attorney’s fees or the previous arrest. She said, that the victim kept screaming about the Defendant still being married and whether he was going to get a divorce. As a result the my client was found not guilty and the order of protection was denied.