Domestic Dispute Ends in Murder/Suicide
A man fatally stabbed his estranged wife in a Queens apartment before hanging himself from a tree.
33-year-old Dineshwar Budhidat and 27-year-old Donne Dojoy married in July. Approximately a month later, police arrested Budhidat after he allegedly strangled his wife. The judge allowed Budhidat to plead guilty to reckless conduct and issued a restraining order. That order was still in effect when Dojoy visited her estranged husband at his residence in Ozone Park. After stabbing Dojoy, Budhidat fled to nearby Spring Creek Park, where he hanged himself.
According to family, Dojoy wanted to give her husband another chance because “he promised her he’d change.”
Can I Drop Assault Charges Against My Spouse?
Lots of people ask us this question, and the answer is always the same. Domestic violence assault have the potential to end this badly. That’s the main reason spouses/partners/cohabitants cannot drop assault charges on their own.
In a criminal assault case, the alleged victim is not in control of the case. The alleged victim is just a witness, much like the owner of stolen property. Prosecutors and New York criminal defense attorneys take the same oath: to zealously represent their clients. A defense attorney’s client is the defendant and a prosecutor’s client is the State of New York.
If a spouse, or any other alleged assault victim, refuses to testify, prosecutors basically have two options. They can subpoena the person and force him/her to testify. This alternative is effective, but it has some fallout. No one wants to force people to do things against their will.
Prosecutors also use an exception to the hearsay rule and have admitted part of the police report into evidence. Normally, these reports are inadmissible, although officers and witnesses may use them to refresh their memories. The exception at issue is called the excited utterance rule. Out-of-court statements made in the stress of the moment are admissible. The theory is that people would not lie in situations like these.
This loophole has no fallout, but it’s not a sure thing. Many times emergency responders do not arrive until well after the alleged assault occurred. By that time, the stress has arguably worn off, so “s/he hit me” statements may be hearsay.
Direct and Collateral Consequences of Domestic Assault
There is a lot at stake in these situations- the safety of the victim or alleged victim and because the direct and collateral consequences of a domestic violence assault conviction.
Occasionally, as in the above story, prosecutors reduce assault charges to something like reckless conduct. This offense does not have that same dire consequences. But such reductions are rare.
Typically, domestic violence assault probation is quite restrictive. Judges routinely add conditions like an anger management or other self-improvement class. If the defendant has transportation or other issues which make it difficult to be at a certain place at a certain time, these conditions could be a problem. The same thing applies if the defendant has issues accepting authority.
The collateral consequences might be worse than the direct consequences. Assault is a crime of moral turpitude which could have immigration, professional, and other consequences. Moreover, domestic violence assault convictions often torpedo child custody or visitation cases. The conviction almost always comes up, even if it was quite old and involved another family.