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The Hidden Story of Tennessee Domestic Violence Charges

Since I have been practicing criminal defense law, radical changes have happened in the area of domestic violence law. Increased awareness to the problem is one of the best things that has happened. In the past , domestic violence issues were minimalized and it was a family issue. The problem has been revealed to be more complex and destructive to the family including the children. Has the pendulum swung too far ?

  • Police officers discretion has been taken away. Read some of the domestic violence laws. The officer shall do this or that. Under Metro Nashville Police Department's general orders, the police must make a arrest in response to a domestic violence call.
  • Domestic violence courts in Davidson County and Rutherford County with special domestic violence prosecutors in most Middle Tennessee Counties.
  • Allowing a police officer to take out a petition for a  order of protection.
  • Increased punishment.
  • Mandatory domestic violence classes.
I could go on. Don't get me wrong. Domestic violence is a real problem that needs to be addressed by our criminal justice system. In a conversation this week with a officer, there are many cases where he would not arrest anyone but his hands are tied. There are unwarranted arrest warrants issued. Our zeal to fix the problem has lead to many unnessary arrests. Just remember not everyone is guilty as charged and there is this presumption of innocence that is still a bedrock principle of our system.

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