Domestic violence: a criminal lawyer’s perspective

by Andrew Tiedt on January 3, 2012

Andrew TiedtTelevision shows like Law and Order are good TV. But they are a pretty poor representation of the life of a criminal lawyer.

The practice of criminal law is fundamentally different to any other area, and being a good criminal lawyer requires more than just training and experience. The area of domestic violence and AVOs is an even more specialised area within criminal law.

There is no better example of this than the area of Domestic Violence. The law is complicated and the procedure can trip up even experienced solicitors. Moreover, a very particular set of skills need to be applied to ensure your client obtains the best possible result.

Clients often come to you in the midst of the deepest crisis they have ever experienced. Their job, their relationship and even their liberty may be at stake.

Allegations of domestic violence are often complicated further by long histories between partners and intense emotions, as well as allegations of ulterior motives. Frequently those matters can be the most demanding, but equally the most rewarding when a job is well done.

Whilst time spent in court is often the showy, exciting part of the process, if things are to go to plan a complicated process need to be allowed to run. This process begins the very first time a client meets with you or talks to you on the telephone.

The first conference is the time when a client often wants answers, but to give those answers requires a lot of information about the parties, the background, other proceedings that may be on foot (especially in the Family Court) as well as a detailed recounting of the events in question.

Clients are often looking for certainties, but a good criminal lawyer knows to never make promises that he or she may not be able to keep. Clients need to understand both what the lawyer hopes to be able to achieve but also what the worst case scenario is.

Cost is always an issue, and it is essential that a new client receives as accurate an estimate as can be provided with present information.

Most of all though, most clients want to know that you are on their side – that you have listened to what they have said, that you understand the situation, and that you have a plan to deal with it. In a time when it seems like everything is going to pieces, there can surely be few more comforting words than “Yes, I understand what you have told me. This is what we can do about it.”

There is no doubt the criminal law requires a very discrete set of skills, many of which have nothing directly to do with the law.

But seeing the difference that you are making in people’s lives also means that there are few more rewarding areas to practice.

If you have a legal issue that involves domestic violence, talk to one of the family or criminal lawyers at Armstrong Legal.

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