It happens all the time. A couple gets into a spat and someone calls the police to complain or a neighbor or passerby dials 911 because they hear an argument, some screaming or a loud noise and think that domestic abuse is involved. If the police or an ambulance is requested, the authorities will come to your home to carefully investigate whether some wrongdoing has occurred. The police always aggressively handle 911 emergency calls and there is a built-in presumption that some violence has taken place. Even if there is a change of heart by the person that dialed 911 the police are mandated to make an arrest and the prosecution will pursue the case with vigor. When the police call you back after an accidental 911 call or hang up they will come to investigate even if you are clear in telling them that nothing has happened and it was just an argument. The call cannot be cancelled and the police must come to the location of the call to speak with the parties involved and they will often arrest someone, usually the male party.
Under the law, the police shall arrest any person the law officer witnesses or has probable cause to believe has violated a restraining order or no-contact order or judgment. Even when there is no such order under Massachusetts law an “arrest shall be the preferred response” where an officer suspects domestic assault and battery even when there is a lack of physical evidence. When the 911 call is made the legal troubles usually begin in earnest. Indeed it has often been said the decent into hell begins when someone calls 911, even when you are innocent or where the other party was the first aggressor. The ramifications of the 911 call are wide and include the destruction of relationships, marriages and problems with family and children. In Massachusetts district court penalties for assault and battery include jail time of up to two and a half years in the house of correction. Conditions of any probation can also include a lengthy and costly batterer’s program, anger management classes or drug and alcohol abuse counseling. Some other problems that may result include the loss of a job with a conviction and your ability to exercise your Second Amendment rights to carry a firearm. Domestic assault cases are often reported in town police blotters causing unfair embarrassment and shame in the community.
Many times 911 calls are made on a Friday night or over the weekend when families are together. The courts are closed and the person arrested will remain in police custody for days until the courts reopen. Fortunately, with the help of a competent and experienced Massachusetts criminal defense attorney, domestic assault cases that begin with a 911 can often be won prior to trial or at the trial stage. Changes in evidence law and other factors have also helped to level the playing field and allow for direct confrontation and cross examination of witnesses and alleged victims when the police are relying simply on a 911 tape to prove their case. So It is unwise and foolish to represent yourself in a domestic assault and battery case or enter into a plea bargain. You must contact an aggressive and knowledgeable 911 Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer right away in order to protect all of your legal rights.