Domestic Violence Crimes
THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The Floyd County Attorney's Office prepared this information to help answer some questions about domestic violence cases. You do not deserve to be abused. There is help available. Our office and many others stand ready to do all we can to make you safer and hold your abuser accountable for the criminal conduct. We hope that this information serves to reduce your fears and address your concerns.
- What is Domestic Violence?
- Why Were Charges Filed?
- Will the Defendant Go to Jail?
- Will I have to Testify in Court?
- Will I have to Hire An Attorney?
- Can I Drop Charges?
- What is a Criminal No Contact Order?
- Lifting a No Contact Order?
- Safety Planning
- What Are Some Feelings Often Experienced By Victims of Violent Crimes?
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence is a pattern of controlling behaviors that may include physical assaults, sexual assaults, emotional abuse, isolation, threats, stalking and intimidation. These behaviors are used by one person in an intimate relationship to control the other. Assault that occurs under any of the following circumstances is defined as "domestic assault" in Iowa: A) Persons who are married, separated, or divorced; B) Parents of the same minor child; C) Adult family or household members currently residing together; D) Adult family or household members who have resided together within the past year.
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Why Were Charges Filed?
Domestic violence is a crime. The County Attorney's Office files criminal complaints against individuals who commit crimes. Typically, we review the crime report, the batterer's criminal history, photographs of your injuries or property damage, 911 tapes, medical records, witness statements, prior history of domestic violence, and any other additional information you or others provide in order to prosecute the case. We believe batterers should be held accountable for their crimes. If this case goes to trial, all of the information gathered may be used as evidence to prove the defendant is guilty of the charges. In addition, the police officers who responded, as well as any witnesses (paramedics, neighbors, and children), may testify at the trial.
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Will The Defendant Go to Jail
It is unusual for a first-time domestic violence offender to get a lengthy jail sentence for a misdemeanor offense conviction, but there is a mandatory minimum two day sentence that must be served for any domestic violence conviction, as well as completion of the Batterer's Education Program. The offender may also be sentenced to probation and/or a substance abuse evaluation and recommended treatment. At sentencing, the No Contact Order may also be extended for one year. If the defendant does not comply with court orders, the judge has the power to send the batterer to jail.
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Will I Have to Testify in Court?
You only have to testify if you receive a subpoena ordering you to appear in court. There may be some pre-trial events that you need to participate in, such as Violation of No Contact Order hearings and depositions. However, most domestic violence cases are resolved without going to trial. You will be notified regarding your appearance for any court matter.
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No. You are a key witness to the crime. When the defendant abused you, he violated the laws of the State of Iowa. The prosecutor from the Floyd County Attorney's Office represents the people of the State of Iowa and prosecutes the defendant for the crime committed.
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It is impossible for you to drop the charges because you are not the one who filed charges. The charges were filed by the County Attorney's Office after reviewing all the evidence against the defendant. It is important for the defendant to realize that he must live within the laws of our society and that violent actions against you, or anyone else, have no place in our community. It is also important that the defendant gets help for his violent behavior.
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Iowa has a mandatory arrest law in cases of domestic violence. After the arrest, the defendant will have an initial appearance in front of a magistrate. At this time, a No Contact Order will most likely be issued. A No Contact Order states that the defendant shall have no contact of any nature, whether in person, by telephone, in writing, or otherwise with you as the protected party. It also states that the defendant shall not be on or adjacent to your residence, school, or place of employment. This order is in place throughout the criminal process. If the defendant does not obey this order, call the police immediately.
It is important that you keep a copy of your No Contact Order with you at all times. The criminal No Contact Order only applies to you. If you have children or other family that you are concerned about, you may want to consider applying for a civil 236 Protection Order. Crisis Intervention Service can assist you with this process.
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We are here to support you and your decision. If after reviewing the following information, you have additional questions please call 641-228-0015 to get in contact with an advocate. It is important to remember that ultimately it is the court’s decision whether the order will be dismissed.
There are additional options besides completely lifting a No Contact Order. You can talk with a Victim Witness Coordinator or Advocate about possible modifications or changes while keeping portions of the order in place.
The difference between a Victim Witness Coordinator and an Advocate:
Victim Witness Coordinator- Acts as support staff to the lawyers that represent the State of Iowa in court. Their job is to provide you with information on how the criminal justice system works and give you updates on the criminal case. Victim Witness Coordinators do not have confidentiality and what you say to them can be shared with the lawyer.
Advocate- works for a domestic violence program. An Advocate has completed all of the necessary training to provide confidential support, counseling, and advocacy. They can help you find housing, financial resources, support groups, and programs for your children. They can provide support as you navigate the court system. What you say under most conditions, to an Advocate is confidential and can’t be shared without your authorization.
Common Question and Answers
What happens if I feel in danger and the order is no longer in place?
- You are the expert on your situation. You know better than anyone else what your partner or ex-partner is capable of. If you feel you’re in immediate danger, contact law enforcement. If you are concerned about safety and would like a safety plan, contact your local Domestic Violence Agency.
- Remember, an Advocate is someone who works through your local victim service. We support you throughout this entire process and this support is free and confidential.
I’m feeling pressured to lift the No Contact Order. Is there anything I can do?
- If you are feeling pressure to drop the No Contact Order, you may want to contact your local domestic violence agency before making any decisions. There are resources that can help and well trained individuals to walk you through this process and talk to you about your options. Not obeying the No Contact Order is a crime, and in some cases additional charges may be added against the person arrested.
- It is important you also follow the conditions of the no-contact order. If you allow contact or make contact with your partner or abuser you may also face criminal prosecution. No Contact Orders can be modified and do not have to be dismissed to allow for some contact. For example, arranging child visitation.
What will happen to the criminal charges if the No Contact Order is dropped?
- The court handles the criminal charges and the No Contact Order separately. If the No Contact Order is dismissed, the criminal charges are not dismissed with it. It is up to the prosecutor to decide whether to pursue the criminal charges. You may talk to an advocate or the Victim Witness Coordinator about what you would like to see happen, but the decision is up to the prosecutor. Remember, whatever you say to the Victim Witness Coordinator can be shared with the prosecutor.
1. If you have a cell phone, try to keep it as charged as possible and on you at all times. You can also get an emergency 911 phone from your local Domestic Violence program. Consider keeping your 911 phone in a hidden and safe place so you can get to it quickly when an emergency arises.
2. Make a plan for where you will go if you need to leave your home. Whether it is a family member’s, friend’s, co-worker’s, hotel or shelter make sure they know what your plan is.
3. Keep an emergency bag packed and hidden in a safe spot unknown by your partner or ex-partner. Examples would be at work, in your trunk, or at a friend or family member’s house.
4. Sit down with your children and go over what the plan will be if they feel that they are in danger or if they see you are in danger.
5. Think about your exit strategies. What door will you use to get out of the house? If the doors are blocked is there a window you can escape from?
1. If you can, consider replacing your locks, installing sensory lights, or a security camera.
2. If your partner or ex-partner is stalking, write down his behavior, call the police to report it, and meet with a Domestic Violence Advocate to talk through things you can do to stay safe.
3. Make sure you change all electronic passwords regularly and delete the browsing history off of your computer.
4. When an argument or assault is happening, if you can, stay away from garages, kitchens bathrooms or any areas containing weapons, tools or farm equipment.
Abusive behavior takes many forms. The following are just a few examples of abuse. If any sound familiar you aren’t alone. Call and talk with an Advocate, they will be kind, supportive and non-judgmental.
• Calls you names, humiliates you or makes you feel worthless
• Denys you access to money
• Breaks things that are important to you
• Makes threats about you, your family or family pets
• Pressures you to do things you aren’t comfortable with
• Tells you who you can or can’t hang out with
You can call your local program 24/7 to talk with an Advocate or schedule a time to meet with an Advocate in a setting that works for you. Also, you can contact the Domestic Violence State Hotline at 1-800-942-0333, or visit www.icadv.org for more information.
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SENSE OF VIOLATION - As a victim of a violent crime you may experience a strong sense of being violated.
Your life has been invaded and severely altered by this criminal act. Your world does not feel the same.
ANGER AND FRUSTRATION - You may be very angry with the person who did this to you. What right did they have to put your life in chaos! Do they know what their actions have done to you? You may be frustrated with the police and the legal system that seem incapable of doing anything to stop such crimes, or find the criminals, or give them what they deserve.
INCREASED FEARS - As a victim of violent crime you may experience new and increased fears. You may be afraid that this will happen to you again. You may become afraid of noises. You may be afraid to be alone - at work, at home, walking in the street, especially at night. You may jump when the phone rings, or when someone knocks at the door, or when a dog barks. You may be afraid that something worse will happen.
LOSS OF CONTROL - As a victim of violent crime you may experience an acute sense of helplessness. Your life felt out of control when the crime occurred and may still feel out of control days later. Even though the criminal is not still attacking you, your mind is filled with thoughts about the crime. You may have had flashbacks or nightmares. You may find it hard to concentrate on anything but the crime. Your illusion of control and safety has been shattered. There is no guarantee that this won't happen again. You may feel like this feeling will never end.
SENSE OF GUILT AND "WHY ME?" - As a victim of violent crime, you may feel guilty because you weren't aware of the danger around you, or because you didn't think you handled yourself well in the face of a threat, or because you weren't able to help someone else who was with you when it happened. You may wonder why this happened to you? What did you do to deserve this? Why did the criminal choose to come after you? You may be consumed with the need to know everything about the criminal and his or her motive.
LOSS OF TRUST IN OTHER PEOPLE - As a victim of a violent crime you may experience a loss of basic trust in other people. You may become suspicious of strangers. You may feel like isolating yourself from the public because you just don't know who you can trust anymore.
WILL THESE FEELINGS EVER GO AWAY?
AM I GOING CRAZY? - As you experience many of the feelings listed above, you may wonder if you are going crazy. You may wonder why you seem to be getting worse instead of better. You may never have known anyone to experience these things and you may wonder what is happening to you. You may wonder if you will ever get better.
All of the feelings and reactions previously listed are natural responses to the trauma of victimization. Your experience may vary from others in some way, but most victims share these common responses. The initial or crisis phase can last from 3-6 weeks. After these first weeks the intensity of your feelings and reactions should start to diminish. You will feel better after time has passed, but you probably will never forget the crime.
You can speed your recovery by keeping in touch with your feelings and talking about them with a good listener, someone who is nonjudgmental. Avoiding your feelings may only delay your recovery.
WHAT ELSE CAN I DO?
Many violent crime victims feel more secure and in control by making their homes more physically secure with new or better locks, more lighting, alarm systems, etc. Victims who live alone are sometimes helped by having family or friends stay over for a few nights. Some victims decide to get a watchdog.
Some victims take self-defense classes to increase their sense of personal security and control. We would discourage the use of weapons to protect yourself simply because it is too easy for the wrong person to be harmed. When you are already jumpy, having a loaded weapon in close reach could end in disaster if your loved one comes home unexpectedly, or late, or sleep walks, etc.