QUESTION: Do I need to hire an attorney?

I got into a physical altercation with my father in-law which I admittedly provoked but did not make the first blow. I was aggravated due to previous run-in with him where he has put his hands on me and got in his face daring him to hit me. He struck me with an elbow in the upper left chest/shoulder area which caused me to stumble backwards. In doing so I returned his blow with a counter punch which happened to knock out his tooth. After everything was said and done because he was on the lease and I was just a guest staying with another tenant in the same apt. complex they asked me to leave within 3 days. He then filed a police report and requested a restraining order which I have a court case for on the 23rd of this month. After some talking he decided he would drop the charges and called over to the D.A. to file his statement. Now I’m being told its no longer up to him to dismiss the charges that it is up to the State. The charge I’m facing is Battery. This is an issue for me because me and my family are currently homeless and this will severely hinder me from finding employment and/or housing being that it is a violent crime. I am a disabled veteran with no criminal history.


ANSWER: Thank you for your service. I’m sorry to hear about the tough times you and your family are facing. You are facing a criminal charge. You need a lawyer. Even if a person can claim perfect self-defense, he still needs an attorney if charges have been filed. I see two primary ways to approach your case:

One: Beat the case arguing self-defense. This would of course keep your criminal record clean, should you prevail.

Two: Ask to be put into Veteran’s Court. This could connect you with a host of services. The courthouse should have a liaison who will know current bed availability and short terming housing solutions for your family. This will also be a chance to link up with veteran’s service providers. As a fellow veteran, I know that when people out-processed from active duty, they often had service connected disabilities overlooked. This might be a good time to have your benefits re-assessed, which could supplement your income. (The VFW will help you with a claim for free… ) If you successfully complete the terms of veteran’s court (typically attending classes over the course of the year) you will not be sentenced and your case will be dismissed.

You might have a hard time getting a public defender to speak with you before your first arraignment takes place. But your local veteran’s service co-ordinator will be happy to talk to you in the meantime. If money is too tight to hire a private attorney, this might be a great place to start

I can guarantee that everyone in the courthouse will want to see you succeed, and I too wish you well.



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