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Lawyers in San Antonio, Texas to promote lethality assessment program for victims


One case in Indianapolis wherein a victim was shot 13 times by her ex-husband in front of a daycare is raising questions about legal tools to keep dangerously violent individuals behind bars, according to this article in My San Antonio Online. With a judge setting the man’s bond at $25,000, many community groups against domestic violence spoke out, saying that the victim’s safety could be compromised should the defendant make bail at the commonly accepted 10 percent. Advocates had expected the Marion County Judge to set the bond for Christopher Justice, the known perpetrator, at $100,000 instead – a number which Judge Hawkins insisted “is a barely justifiable number.”

Judges use specific mathematical formulas to calculate the appropriate amount of bail, assigning points for such factors such as criminal record, employment and length of residency. Justice must also turn over his guns and his passport in addition to wearing a GPS ankle bracelet, should he come up with the $2,500 to get out jail. But advocates and other interested parties like lawyers in San Antonio, Texas representing victims of domestic violence say that more may be needed to guarantee the safety of women involved in such violent incidents, like Shirley Justice, who remained in the hospital for more than a week after she was shot.

Lawyers in San Antonio, Texas familiar with the suit, and who often represent victims in domestic violence cases, point to other tools that can be utilized to keep those with the potential for further violence off the streets, including a Lethality Assessment Program and preventative detention—a “cooling off” period. The Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence developed the LAP and promoted its use, adopted now by jurisdictions in 32 states, including Texas. Lawyers in San Antonio, Texas, would be familiar with the LAP, including its initiation when an officer arrives on scene at a domestic violence call. Screening the victim with series of 11 brief questions, the lethality assessment test is able to reliable predict a victim’s risk of death. Widespread implementation of the LAP could prevent many deaths by domestic violence, advocates argue.

San Antonio isn’t immune to domestic violence cases by any means. As a large metro area, the city reports high rates of family violence, with most incidents being reported immediately to the San Antonio Police Department. The SAPD notes that in 2012, there was a 2.8 percent increase in domestic violence calls for service, with 45,008 emergency situations coming through the dispatch lines. Lawyers in San Antonio, Texas representing the victims of such emergencies all too often see low bonds set and perpetrators released before their minimum protective detention period has lapsed, putting victims back in harm’s way. The LAP has been shown to minimize that risk by enabling women to indicate increased risks for homicide based on proven, reliable assessment instruments, and therefore provide corroborating evidence sometimes needed for emergency protective orders. Advocates hope to see more lethality assessment tests implemented nationwide to prevent and mitigate domestic violence incident rates.


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