Stay-at-home orders implemented in states across the country have helped to mitigate the spread of COVID-19—however, they have also had another outcome that is not so positive… a sudden and aggressive spike in domestic violence incidents.
Couple close living quarters with the financial stress brought on by the current economic climate, and it’s enough to push many people over the edge, especially if they already have strained relationships and problems in the home.
As a criminal defense attorney, you should be paying close attention to this trend and preparing your practice for a possible uptick in domestic violence cases. However, before we dive into the steps you should take for your practice, let’s look at the domestic violence incident data from across the United States and gain a better understanding of the rising trend.
A March like no other
According to law enforcement, reports of domestic violence increased over the month of March. NBC reported that 18 of 22 police departments that responded to the new station’s inquiry had seen a rise in domestic violence calls.
To give you an idea of the scope of this problem, consider the following:
- Houston P.D. received 300 more calls in March than they did in February, a roughly 20% increase.
- In March of 2020, law enforcement of Charlotte - Mecklenberg, North Carolina fielded 517 more calls than they did in March of 2019, an 18% increase.
- Phoenix received 200 more calls, a 6% increase.
- Salt Lake City saw a weekly increase from 73 to 96 in the month of March.
- Cherokee County, South Carolina saw a 35% rise in cases in March compared to February.
Additionally, law enforcement in the following areas experienced an increase:
- San Antonio
- Sparks, Nevada
- East Baton Rouge Parish, Louisiana
- Fresno County, California
- Montgomery County, Texas
- Nassau County, New York
- Utah County, Utah
It’s not difficult to conclude that this trend is probably occurring in most areas across the US. But what precisely drives the rise of violence?
A pattern of abuse during a major crisis
History shows that the aftermath of a disaster on a massive scale can lead to a rise in violence at home. Professionals who work in this area of expertise, like victims’ rights advocates and law enforcement, attribute the phenomenon to the stress of schools and businesses shutting down, leaving many people out of work and financially stressed. It was reported that after Hurricane Harvey in 2017, there was an increase in violence in the home, similar to what we are experiencing with the coronavirus.
Consider the following factors that may be contributing to increased violence in the home during during the coronavirus pandemic:
- Many shelters for abuse victims are struggling to stay open, especially with stay-at-home orders forcing them to cancel fundraising events, which can result in up to six figures in losses for many organizations.
- With the absence of shelters and domestic violence organizations, there are fewer opportunities for people with explosive relationships to seek help.
- Alcohol consumption has increased during the coronavirus, making home life more volatile.
Now that we've covered the current trend and the key drivers behind it, let's look at what this means for your criminal defense firm.
What should your firm be doing today?
In times like these, the reality is you’re going to see more people who need your help with their domestic violence cases, whether it’s to challenge unfair allegations that have been filed against them or to find the right way to course-correct after their actions got the best of them. And in their time of need, it’s important that your prospective clients know you’re available to help.
Navigating the legal system is already intimidating enough, let alone at a time like this when the usual resources people turn to for help are less accessible. By keeping your criminal defense practice visible online, you can serve as a lifeline to the potential clients who need you while also keeping your firm business with new business during the current economic shutdown.
Here are a couple of strategies for keeping your firm visible and accessible during COVID-19:
1. Maintain aggressive advertising and brand-building strategies.
Make sure your law firm is showing up across various online channels so potential clients are finding you when they turn to the Internet for answers. This means you should invest in advertising that will get you found in search engines, on social media sites, video-streaming sites, and more. Now is actually one of the best times to advertise because many firms are cutting back on their ad budgets right now, which lowers competition and advertising costs, allowing you to stretch your budget further.
2. Solidify yourself as an authority in your field with high-quality, helpful content.
Push out content on your website’s blog that covers common questions your potential clients are likely to ask. This not only helps your firm get found in search engines, but it also establishes you as an expert in your field. You can also reach out to network news or local news outlets, branding yourself as a lawyer who specializes in alleged domestic violence in your community.
At Scorpion, we want to help your law firm succeed as much as possible during this crisis. If you want more insight and guidance, please continue checking our resource page for new content, or contact us directly if you have any questions.