According to a recent analysis conducted by the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force (USPSTF), routine screening of women at clinics and hospitals may prevent abuse and injury related to domestic violence. The analysis was conducted as part of a review of the group's 2004 guidelines, under which such screening is not seen as beneficial enough to recommend to doctors.
The group's recommendations are reportedly important, and while not mandatory, often become the standard of care and insurance coverage in the medical community.
Some groups have expressed concern about the idea of routine domestic violence screening. Lack of resources and the potential of exacerbating abuse were cited. The USPSTF, however, found in its analysis that routine screening does not appear to exacerbate abusive situations.
In the criminal justice system, everybody agrees that domestic violence is an evil that needs badly to be addressed. Domestic violence advocates, legislators, law enforcement, and prosecutors often establish task forces, coalitions, stricter laws and departmental or official policies to make such crimes easier to track and prosecute.
From one perspective, this is a good thing. From a defense perspective, however, there is always the danger of moving forward too quickly without doing a proper investigation, or of doling out charges which are unfair or inaccurate.
When a person is accused of domestic violence, they need to have their rights as a criminal defendant respected. This includes the right to a fair trial, which will give them the opportunity to confront an accuser and hold prosecutors to their burden of proof.
One of the things a defense attorney will look at is whether the charges are accurate based on all the information available, as well as the existence of any possible defenses. If the state is unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime alleged, the charges must be dismissed.
If charges cannot be dismissed altogether, a defense attorney may be able to have charges minimized to a less serious offense. In either case, the goal is to provide the best possible defense and advocacy for the defendant.
Source: MSN Health and Fitness, "Screening Women for Domestic Violence Could Help Prevent Abuse," Carina Storrs, May 8, 2012.
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