Every day, victims of domestic violence walk into courtrooms and request restraining orders. These orders are almost always against the current or ex spouses or boyfriend / girlfriend. I have seen horrific domestic violence cases. I have represented victims that have been punched, kicked, beaten and their life and that of their children threatened. I have obtained restraining orders only to have the perpetrator violate the order, so that I go back to Court and get even more strict orders that cut off all communication and take all custody and visitation of children away from the perpetrator.
You know what I don’t see very often anymore?
The police and prosecution doing their job.
It happened again today. My client last week obtained a temporary and emergency restraining order against her boyfriend. Her hearing on the permanent order is coming up. She hired me to handle that. We served the temporary order on her boyfriend who physically assaulted her, threw her out of the house and, when she and her two year old daughter left, he threatened to kill her. There is a witness to the death threat. This all led to the initial restraining order. What happened after we served him? Apparently and allegedly, he threatened to kill my client again and his father was concerned enough about the seriousness of the threat that he called the Sheriff on his own son.
When the Sheriff finally caught up to the abuser, he allegedly tried to flee but they caught him…and they busted him with enough marijuana in his car to also book him on drug charges with intent to sell or transport – yes, that is a lot of marijuana. Bail was set at $50,000. My client was terrified he would somehow get out and escalate the situation even more. You may be asking, “how would he get out? He committed assault and battery, threatened to kill your client twice, threatened to harm others, was caught, drugs were found on him and he was arrested…he is not going anywhere.”
Is that what you’re thinking? I was too. Then I learned today that he had been released. Is he still being charged? Don’t know yet.
Now, this guy is out there. Fortunately, he has no idea where my client lives. I don’t even know where she lives as she knows to keep her location a secret and not tell a soul. You think she is scared? More than a little. You think she would be this terrified if the Sheriff’s Department had done their job? No.
I have seen a growing pattern in the past couple of years with the police, sheriff and child protective services. They have stopped doing their job.
I have seen clear cut and violent abusers, with not only a documented history of violence but recent assaults that are witnessed and left bruises and injuries to victims just walk away from the criminal law process without any punishment.
Sure, I get the restraining order. I protect the child or children and take custody away form the abuser. But what do the police or Sheriff do, what does the district attorney or city attorney offices do to make sure my client has more than a piece of paper form a family law judge? Too often recently, not a damn thing.
It has become frustrating.
Tomorrow, I am going to make a phone call to the Sheriff’s Department and try to find out what the hell happened today that caused someone like this to get back on the street hours after he threatened to kill my client. I don’t expect I will get much of an answer. Law enforcement seems to have stopped taking their role as law and enforcement seriously when it comes to perpetrators of serious domestic violence. Fortunately, I haven’t.