Attorney Jerry Merrill Examines Kansas Domestic Violence Law

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Johnson County criminal defense attorney Jerry Merrill, of the Merrill Law Firm, illustrates updates to and discusses domestic violence law.

Attorney Jerry Merrill

However, you may remain silent and refuse to answer questions which could incriminate you. While you may be arrested, you will be placing yourself in a better situation to fight any resulting charge.

Domestic violence includes any crime committed against a person with whom one has a domestic relationship. However, the definition of the parties has become more broad.

“In the past, it only included spouses or individuals living together,” said attorney Jerry Merrill, of the Merrill Law Firm, who devotes his practice exclusively to defending individuals accused of crimes. “Now it includes anyone with whom you are in a dating relationship.”

Furthermore, crimes which can be classified as “domestic violence” have also become more broad. In the past it only included battery and/or other violent offenses. “Now it includes any crime, even non-violent crimes such as theft and criminal damage to property,” noted Merrill.

With each high-profile case, especially the increase in murder/suicides between spouses, local law enforcement and prosecutors make domestic violence offenses more of a priority. “While this has been beneficial in preventing violent crime, it has also created a much wider net that can ensnare more law-abiding citizens,” added Merrill. “For example, law enforcement across the country have instituted mandatory arrest policies, which generally means that if police show up to a call involving a married couple the police are required by their policy to arrest someone if they believe that a crime has occurred regardless of how insignificant.”

Whereas in the past police would respond to a scene and make one of the spouses go get a hotel room while things calm down, they now must arrest one of the spouses. With the mandatory arrest laws, common sense has been disregarded, which can lead to the arrest of a 100-pound woman when she pushes her 250-pound husband in the heat of an argument. Battery laws are written so broadly that even “angry or insulting contact” can support a battery charge, even in the absence of any injury.

“Along with limited law enforcement discretion, prosecutor offices have mostly taken the position that they will charge all domestic violence crimes out of fear that the one minor charge they do not file will escalate into something more serious,” stated Merrill.

The environment created by changing laws and attitudes have led to the necessity of individuals to be vigilant if confronted by police officers. Marital arguments are no longer private matters.

“If police question you about your conduct during an argument they are attempting to gather evidence to support arresting you and charging you with a crime. Officers have a very difficult job and you should always be polite and courteous,” concluded Merrill. “However, you may remain silent and refuse to answer questions which could incriminate you. While you may be arrested, you will be placing yourself in a better situation to fight any resulting charge.”

About Jerry Merrill, Merrill Law Firm
Jerry Merrill is a solo practitioner, and his clients receive individualized attention and hands-on guidance in every aspect of their criminal defense. Practice areas of the Merrill Law Firm include criminal defense, domestic violence, juvenile law, DUI/DWI and serious felonies. For more information, please call (913) 381-2085, or visit The law office is located at 7211 W. 98th Terrace, Suite 140, Overland Park, KS 66212.

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