Does Domestic Violence Escalate during the Holidays?
There is a known spike in domestic violence offenses during the holidays. Starting from Thanksgiving all the way through New Year’s Eve, there are more instances of domestic violence than the rest of the year. There are limited studies showing the correlation between the holiday season and increased rates of domestic violence. But the studies that have been done do you show there is an increased risk. However, that also can include non-domestic violent crimes as well.
It Is Not Just Domestic Violence That Increases
Domestic violence is not the only increase in criminal activity over the holiday season. That is why so many studies hesitate to say that it is the holidays alone that increase domestic violence incidents. Other crimes such as drunk driving or assault also increase during the holidays. It may be because, during that time of year, more individuals are under a tremendous amount of stress compared to the rest of the year. Also, there is a correlation between the start of the new year and an increased number of domestic violence complaints. Some speculate that the increase is more so that victims are not reporting the incidents until after the holidays, even though the act took place before the start of the new year.
Unfortunately, there is not enough research funding to conduct a full study on whether or not domestic violence truly escalates at the end of the year. Focusing solely on reports and data from hotlines and shelters is not enough to draw a conclusion.
What Does the State Consider Domestic Violence?
In New Mexico, domestic violence is considered any criminal act against a household member. While the most common are spouse on spouse, it does not have to be a dispute between spouses to qualify as domestic violence. Two family members living under the same roof who engage in a physical altercation is still an act of domestic violence.
Some examples of domestic violence include:
Physical Assaults against Household Members
An attempt to harm a person living in the same house, even if it is just a verbal or physical threat, could result in a domestic violence charge. As long as the victim has a reasonable concern for their safety, the aggressor can be charged with domestic violence, and in this case, it would be a petty misdemeanor.
Actual Battery against a Household Member
When physical attacks are made against another household member, this is known as battery. Any intentional touch or force used to harm or control a household member can result in a misdemeanor offense.
Harming or Threatening a Family Member with a Deadly Weapon
When a deadly weapon is involved, including something like a baseball bat or firearm, the charges are upgraded to aggravated assault or aggravated battery, depending on whether the victim was physically harmed. The charge in these cases become a felony. Aggravated battery is a third degree felony, while aggravated assault is a fourth degree felony. Both of these can result in extended prison sentences and the lifelong consequences of a felony conviction.
Harming a Household Member with the Intent to Cause Serious Harm
When domestic violence turns into such a severe act that a person’s life is at risk – such as falsely imprisoning a victim – it is considered a third-degree felony, but it may be increased to a first or second degree felony depending on the circumstances. For example, if a household member attempts to murder another household member, they are more likely to be charged with a first or second degree felony.
Domestic Violence – whether Misdemeanor or Felony – Is a Serious Accusation
Being accused of domestic violence is very serious. Whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, the rest of your life will be impacted by that event. Not only will you have a permanent criminal record, but that record may affect your ability to work at your current job, qualify for aid programs, and obtain housing. Likewise, a domestic violence-related conviction removes your right to own or possess a firearm.
In most cases of domestic violence, a protective order is placed. These orders may bar you from entering your own home, seeing your children, or even interacting with family members. It is important to realize that you do not have to be convicted for a protective order to be in place. The protective order may remain in place until your trial date. Therefore, you could have a protective order against you for several months.
It does not take much to convict a person of a domestic violence related offense. Sometimes, all that is required is the victim’s word. Very little evidence is required, because a victim’s testimony is sometimes powerful enough to convict someone of domestic violence.
Even if the victim were to recant later, you could still be charged with and convicted for a domestic violence-related offense – so do not assume that a victim controls whether you are charged or not. Instead, it is up to the state to drop those charges. If they have more evidence than just a victim’s testimony, they are likely to continue with the case even if the victim refuses to testify.
Hire a Domestic Violence Attorney Immediately
If you or a loved one has been arrested for domestic violence related crimes, now is the time to contact a defense team immediately. You need someone ready to fight for your rights, protect you from an unfair criminal justice system, and ready to make sure you get the defense you deserve.
The criminal team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices offers free consultations. Schedule an appointment today with our attorneys by calling us or requesting more information about our legal services online.