A lot of consequences of the quarantine measures and stay-at-home orders flowing from the COVID-19 pandemic predictable were predictable: Economic harm, educational impacts, hoarding at stores, transportation problems, etc. But as a Massachusetts domestic violence lawyer, I can assure you that an even more disturbing impact awaited in this environment: Domestic violence. And it’s not surprising. The number of phone calls I am getting from clients and potential clients that have been impacted by this not-so-unnatural phenomenon, has been unsettling, to say the least.
As I said, though, it’s not surprising: Force people into their homes, limit their time outside, with almost no positive news but 24/7 broadcasts of the Apocalypse, doom and despair, and nerves are going to begin to fay. Tempers are going to flare. Frustrations are going to break through the surface. Words are going to be exchanged. Arguments are going to develop. Add alcohol to this mix, and it’s downright combustible. Notably, the Boston Globe recently published an editorial calling for all liquor stores in Massachusetts to be ordered closed until the current stay-at-home orders are lifted. Not a bad idea, in my professional view as a criminal defense lawyer. All that it’s going to take is a phone call to the police from a next door neighbor or an apartment down the hall, and a series of very legally damaging events is going to take over, with very serious legal consequences. You see, the subject of domestic violence is so much of a “hot button” issue, that no one in either law enforcement or the judicial system takes them lightly anymore. Too many high-profile cases of domestic violence covered by the media have completely changed how police respond to these calls, and how District Attorneys’ offices and the courts deal with them. Continue reading