Domestic Crime - What do you think the court should do in cases like this?

Here's a real event that happened during my tour of duty almost ten years ago. The case is still in litigation so the names were changed to protect the innocent.

Steve and Danielle

Neighbors saw and heard glass being smashed and shattered at the apartment of Danielle, Steve's girlfriend and the mother of Steve's nine month old daughter, Casey. The neighbors telephoned police.

When I arrived I saw the front bay window of the apartment smashed with fragments shattered over the outside front of the apartment. I met Danielle who told me that she had just been assaulted by Steve, her current boyfriend, she was bruised but declined an ambulance.

She said Steve left westbound Balboa Avenue seconds before I arrived and she wanted him arrested. She gave me a quick description of him. I told her that I was going to try to catch him and left. After driving through the area I was unable to locate Steve, so I returned to Danielle's home.

Danielle told me that she and Steve had been together for about three years. Earlier during their relationship, Danielle let Steve move in and together they lived in her apartment. As time went by Danielle realized that Steve was not the "working" kind so she terminated their living arrangement, forcing Steve to go back home to live with his mother.

The current arrangement she has with Steve is that he is allowed to come visit and stay over two or three days a week, but not allowed to have the door key.

On the day Danielle telephoned police, Baby Casey got sick and had to go to the hospital, Danielle tried to call Steve who was nowhere to be found. After being up all night, Danielle returned home from the hospital to find Steve inside her apartment. Danielle was upset that Steve had broken inside her apartment and demanded he leave.

Steve became enraged and began cursing at Danielle. He grabbed Danielle's neck and began to choke her until she began to cry. He picked up the glass living room table top and flung it through the living room bay window smashing both the table top and the front bay window.

Steve was picked up the next day at his mother's house. Two months later Steve was in court. Danielle came to court denying Steve committed any crimes against her.

What should the court do?

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Comment by A. C. Ellis on January 9, 2010 at 3:19am
Interesting.

Check out my blog at http://acehollowpoint.blogspot.com
Comment by Marilyn Meredith on January 8, 2010 at 10:50am
Those are always tough.
Comment by Victoria Roder on January 8, 2010 at 10:47am
Very interesting topic, Johnny. As a child of domestic violence I agree with, Frank. Sometimes it's easier and less conflict (less reprocussions) to deny anything happened. In Wisconsin with evidence of physical violence an arrest is to be made and a 72 hour no contact rule inforced.
Comment by Bob Doerr on January 8, 2010 at 7:26am
Johnny, The court can proceed with trying to prosecute Steve but if Danielle recants her story and sticks with the denial, it would be very hard to convict him. If the neighbors can definitely say he was there at the time of the incident it would help but from what you wrote up it sounds like they were just aware of the event by the noise. - Bob Doerr
Comment by Dana King on January 8, 2010 at 6:12am
I don't know enough about what the law is in your jurisdiction to say for sure. Does Danielle need to press charges? If so, and she wants to drop it, I guess the court has to let him go. I don't like it--the evidence seems clear he's guilty--but I'm not sure what else to do.

The baby is another matter. A case should be opened with child welfare to ensure the safety of the baby. There's no reason for the child to be placed at potential risk just because Danielle isn't willing to let the system help her with Steve.
Comment by Robert Crisman on January 8, 2010 at 5:28am
Well, the neighbors either saw him do it or saw him leaving right after. You responded to the call, saw the damage and Danielle's bruises, took her statement that Steve put them there, as well as the neighbors' statements re what they saw. If in fact the neighbors saw Steve actually committing the crime and it turned out Danielle's bruises were fresh, that makes it a fairly strong case, I think.
Danielle retracted her accusations in court, but that happens more than a little in these kind of situations. I'd want to know if she'd ever accused Steve of assaulting her before and what happened then.
I'd really want to shine the light up Steve's ass before we even got to court. This is a guy who won't work, lives with his folks--how old is he?--whose old lady kicked him out of the house after they'd had a kid together. Seems like a lot of strong, fucked-up emotional ties come out of a situation like that. Plus, three years is a long time, for a lot of different people to have seen them interacting together and who might have some interesting info to impart re the couples' situation.
Just from what you say, my feel is the guy did it. What a dad for a baby to have. It would be good to get his ass out of the picture. What should the court do? Well, who knows what a jury will do on that kind of case? If I was on the jury and got the same hit from Steve and Danielle as I did reading your story, I'd vote to convict.
Comment by Frank Duffy on January 8, 2010 at 4:50am
Mate,
My mother was forced into that situation many times. Many people think that women such as 'Danielle' should be prosecuted for wasting the police and the court's time, but believe me, from personal experience, these women are more often than not caught in a situation that seems to lie well beyond their control. These poor women suffer too much already. The fear that these 'men' generate is so overwhelming at times that one cannot help but believe it's best not to follow the legal procedure through to the end. The threats and physical abuse will usually escalate till the woman find there is no alternative. With children in tow the danger factor is upped considerably.

Personally, some friends of Danielle's should enroll her in self-defense classes, keep it secret from this piece of shit, and after a period of intensive training, she should kick almighty hell out of him, preferably concentrating on sensitive areas located below the waist.

Not a recommended course of action, but that's what my mother did, and my father was gone from that day on.

Not exactly helpful, was I. But your predicament is an interesting, if not an all too familiar one.

All the best,
Frank

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