Class A misdemeanor domestic assault charge in TN. Assault made in self defense, what to do?
Question Details: My question is how do I resolve this charge in the most timely way without permanent damage to my record. A brief overview of the night of the arrest: I was home when live in boyfriend came home very intoxicated. I was worried/disappointed in his dangerous behavior-he drove 20 minutes to get home on busy interstate. When confronted he became enraged-backed me into a chair (He outweighs me by 70+ pounds & is nearly 9" taller). I threw my hands up in self-defense, left single scratch. He called police, I was arrested. He is willing to cooperate-wants charged dismissed. What are our best options?
I do practice in TN, Memphis that is. If this were in Memphis, the case would most likely be dropped when the "victim" fails to show up at the Preliminary Hearing. You need to fight this, DV has horrible consequences.
Your best option is to get an attorney to represent you on this. This is a criminal charge and will go on your record. Possibly they can get the charge dismissed by arguing some violation of legal procedure and your rights. If not then they may be able get the charge reduced. If this is your first offense that will help. He might be able to arrange for an alternative form of sentencing that will leave you with the ability to clear your arrest from the record; something known as "diversion" or "deferred adjudication".
Additionally, given the circumstances you could always make a claim of self-defense here. However, that may well entail legal ramifications for your boyfriend.
As for him wanting the charge dropped, this is not his call. It is up to the DA as to whether of not to pursue the matter or move for dismissal. Granted, if your boyfriend is the only witness to the incident and he refuses to testify against you it does weaken the state's case. But if there is other evidence to support the charge then the DA could decide to move forward on the it.
Again, however, you need to consult with an attorney in your area and see just what they advise as the best way to handle this .
Although I do not practice law in the State of Tennessee, here are my initial impressions. I generally agree with my colleague's comments. However, in addition to your boyfriend potentially refusing to cooperate with the prosecution, it is possible that your attorney would be able to convince a prosecutor to dismiss the charges if your boyfriend provides a sworn statement that you were, in fact, acting in self defense. However, it is of the utmost importance that you explore this option with the assistance of an attorney, and not by yourself, for two reasons. First, if you attempt to get your boyfriend to sign a statement (or otherwise not cooperate with the prosecution) you could be charged with tampering with a witness, which is a felony that is taken very seriously. An attorney will know the right way to go about this without you exposing yourself to additional criminal liability. Second, the attorney will be able to make sure that the statement provided by your boyfriend does not expose HIM to criminal liability, i.e. for assault, threatening, dui, or anything else. It would be foolish for your boyfriend to exculpate you at the expense of inculpating himself if that is not necessary. Thus, you need to consult with an attorney if you want to increase the likelihood of a favorable resolution.