Question: My husband got into an argument and things got out of hand. We've been married 5 years and he has no criminal record. I don't know what got into him but he lost it and ended up slapping me, leaving a bruise on my face. The neighbors heard the commotion, the cops arrived, and my husband was arrested on the grounds of domestic violence. I want the charges dropped because I don't want this to cause an issue with his employment and I think we can work it out. Is it possible to do so? Should I hire an attorney?
Answer: Domestic violence laws have become more strict across the United States as the serious nature and frequency of these cases has increased. In the early 1990's and before, many states had domestic violence diversion programs where the charges would be dropped upon the spouse's consent, and with the domestic violence suspect confessing to the crime and apologizing. With a diversion program, no charges or domestic violence convictions get filed. Instead, counseling along with self-help classes are administered in an effort to defuse the problematic situation.
For a general overview of domestic violence laws, see Domestic Violence Laws and Penalties.
Some states found this to be successful while many have not, especially when participants in diversion programs became repeat offenders. Thus, several states have dropped their diversion programs and only a few still offer them.
Understand that once a domestic violence incident is reported and starts being handled by the police, it is no longer a matter of the victim vs. his or her spouse. Although the prosecutor needs the cooperation of the victim, the victim does not have the final say as to whether the case proceeds.
You can attempt to speak to the district attorney or hire a family law attorney in an effort to resolve the situation. You may be able to reach a plea bargain to a lesser offense.
Each state handles domestic violence cases differently so you should speak with a licensed attorney in your state.