How to NOT Get Away With Murder – What Jodi Arias did wrong & what you can do if you are affected by domestic violence

The first thing Jodi Arias did wrong – according to an Arizona jury of her peers – was to kill her estranged boyfriend, Travis Alexander in 2007. Her case is a roadmap for an unsuccessful criminal defense strategy in a first degree murder case – how to commit murder and not get away with it. Next – if there was domestic violence in the relationship – she went about getting out the wrong way.

According to evidence at trial, Arias slit Alexander’s throat, stabbed him 27 to 29 times, and shot him. This week another Arizona jury decided Arias will spend her life in prison without the possibility of parole for the first degree murder. 

Self-defense story didn’t make the cut with the jury

There is a lot of controversy surrounding Arias’ claim that she had to kill Alexander in self-defense because he was abusing her. Although there are a number of groups that support Arias and her claims, the jury found that there were a lot of holes in her story. Among them – the battered woman/post-traumatic stress syndrome story was the third one Arias told police. 

First, Arias told police that she and Alexander had broken up, and she knew nothing. Then, she blamed an intruder. Finally, in 2008, Arias told police she killed Alexander in self-defense because he was abusing her. This is an example of what can happen when a defendant attempts to talk themselves out of accusations with a lie. It’s something the Nebraska criminal defense attorneys at Hightower Reff law would never advise.

Her changing stories are only a part what the jury decided discredited Arias, who spent 18 hours testifying in her own defense during the trial. During that testimony, she repeatedly contradicted herself. Add Arias’ changing stories to contradicting herself on the stand, and then throw in other evidence from the prosecution, and it’s a recipe for a conviction that no criminal defense attorney could reasonably overcome. It all added up in the minds of Arias’ jury to proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  

Domestic violence & the law in Nebraska 

Arias’ sentencing this week has again made domestic violence a trending topic across the country. Whether you believe Arias’ defense or not – domestic violence is a real issue thousands of women face. It happens right here at home – daily. 

Here in Omaha, Nebraska, police have a special domestic violence policy and a list of resources. Our state also has State laws intended to protect victims and their children. Nebraska statutes recognize a separate crime of domestic assault that includes not only actual physical harm, but threats as well. 

At Hightower Reff Law, we have helped many with domestic violence issues. We know Nebraska domestic violence law – both as attorneys for those who are victims, and for those accused of domestic violence related crimes. 

We also know that it can be dangerous and frightening for a domestic violence victim to leave. But, there are many reasons that they must take steps to get out of the abusive relationship before it ends in murder – of them or the abuser.  If the victim has children, they have even more reason to leave. 

Nebraska law says that if a child is exposed to domestic violence in the home, they are to be removed and placed in State custody for their safety. That means that the children of a domestic violence victim could end up in foster care. If the victim doesn’t get out of the DV situation and stay out, he or she could lose their parental rights. 

Help for domestic violence victims and offenders 

If you are having legal problems related to domestic violence as a victim or an offender – whether in county court, district court, or juvenile court – call Hightower Reff Law today at 402-932-9550 to find out how we can help.  

Resources for Victims

If you are in a domestic violence relationship, get help right away. Click here for a list of places that can help.

Programs for offenders

There are a number of court approved domestic violence programs for batterers throughout Nebraska. Click here for a list.

This article should not be construed as legal advice. Situations are different and it’s impossible to provide legal advice for every situation without knowing the individual facts. 

The Cost of Trial in Family Law – It’s More Than Just Money

“What’s it like to be in trial?” This is a question we often get from our family law clients.  A trial isn’t easy. In a divorce, child custody modification, or other family law trial, the most important things in your life – your children and your financial security – are at stake. 

Having your voice heard

In a family law divorce or custody trial, the outcome is completely out of your hands, and ours. It’s in the hands of the judge. A settlement agreement, on the other hand, gives you a say in the outcome of your case. It is a chance for your voice to truly be heard – and for your wishes to be incorporated in the final court order that comes from the settlement agreement. 

Sometimes a trial is necessary – but, if the lawyer does her job well, those times can be relatively few in family law cases.  Most often, a settlement is the best way for our clients to have a choice and a voice in deciding what’s best for their children and family.  

That’s one of the reasons why, in most cases, the attorneys of Hightower Reff Law would rather reach a settlement than go to trial with your divorce or child custody case.

Making good settlement decisions

While reasonable attorneys may differ regarding interpretation of the law, an experienced family law attorney has a pretty good idea of what your chances of success are at trial and what expectations are reasonable. 

At Hightower Reff Law, we counsel our clients about those things and give you the advice you need to make reasonable settlement decisions that give you a say in the outcome of your case, and that are in the best interest of your children. We do this because it is part of advocating for you. Being in trial is hard on families. It is hard on our clients. It is all consuming.  

The casualties of trial

In a divorce or child custody modification trial, it’s our job to convince a judge or jury that our side should prevail, but there is never a guarantee. It is the other side’s job to point out how wrong we are about our client and our position.  The other side often will bring up every little negative thing that our client has ever done and make it seem like the worst thing ever – and we will have to do the same to your soon to be ex-spouse or parent of your children. 

A trial is never predictable, and is not for the faint of heart.  It can be a blood bath that causes even more hard feelings than the parties already harbor for one another. It can also make for problems in co-parenting children after the divorce or custody modification trial is over. 

In the end, the true casualties of the battle of trial are often the children because they can suffer when their parents harbor animosities for one another. 

Your peace of mind

Although a trial is sometimes necessary in family law cases, through our years of experience as family law attorneys, we at Hightower Reff Law have found our clients are most satisfied with an agreed upon outcome they help craft in mediation or settlement negotiations. 

After all is said and done, when you reach a settlement agreement in your divorce, child custody, or other family law case, you can walk away with the peace of mind that comes with knowing that you stood up for you rights and the best interest of your children – without the lingering scars a trial can cause.

To learn more about Hightower Reff Law, visit our “about” page, or call us today at 402-932-9550.