Interviewer: Is it still one of those misconceptions or one of those notions that it’s always the men who are the perpetrators? Do you see a lot of women?
Gary Churak: It’s more prevalent now than it was 10 years ago. Ten years ago it was very rare to see a woman charged with assault and domestic violence. Now it’s getting more prevalent. You actually see more of them and I’d say probably 20% to 25% of the cases involve women now.
A lot of them are women on women. It runs the gamut for the gay and lesbian relationship too.
Interviewer: They don’t necessarily have to be married, right?
Gary Churak: No. They don’t have to be married at all. I mean it’s a family relationship. There’s assault-married. There’s assault-dating, assault-family relationship; it all falls under that domestic violence umbrella. They don’t even have to be cohabitating. They can just be dating.
That creates all the family-violence issues that we talked about previously versus a regular assault case. In a regular assault case, for example, you get into a fight with another person and you don’t break his nose or anything but you strike him and you get charged with assault.
You really can’t prove a self-defense because you’re 6’4” and 250 pounds and he’s 5’5” and 120 pounds. After looking at all the evidence the attorney says, “I think this deferred adjudication is probably a pretty good offer.” You do your probation. The case is dismissed. It’s simple assault, regular assault, you can come in and do a non-disclosure and seal it. It’s not a family violence issue but if it falls under the domestic family violence umbrella, you cannot seal it. That’s the difference.