By Collin County Criminal Defense Attorney Jeremy Rosenthal
Many family assault arrests follow a predictable pattern. The police are called to a situation where a husband and wife are frazzled, breathing heavily, and at opposite ends of the house. Many officers are bound by department policy to make an arrest if someone makes an allegation of assault simply to do nothing more than diffuse a possibly more violent situation.
But how do the police determine who was the aggressor and who was the victim… or if both are the aggressors, then who should go to jail?
If you think about it, it is an extremely tough call. It’s not as if the officers can watch an instant replay like a football game. They have to use the information they’re given which is often conflicting and from highly emotional people suffering from either mental disorders or who could be intoxicated.
Sometimes one person may have left the scene. This person obviously can’t give their side of the story so it’s not uncommon this is the person who ultimately gets charged.
Obviously police are subject to the same biases and prejudices we all carry. They may be more prone to blame an angry husband simply because they just think it’s more likely a male is assaultive.
Juries must be taught to see behind the police reasoning. Once jurors see the police don’t have an omniscient vantage point of the situation — the charges can be demystified greatly. Once the jury sees a family assault situation is confusing, intense, and emotional — they can also see how it’s possible the wrong person went to jail.
*Jeremy Rosenthal is Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Nothing in this article should be considered as legal advice. For legal advice about any situation you should contact an attorney directly.