Originally Posted by Brutus the Pimp
There are a lot of over-zealous prosecutors out there that will initially charge someone with a felony in hopes of inducing a plea bargain for a lesser misdemeanor charge. That's extremely common.
That he was initially charged with a felony tells us very little. Very, very little.
It tells us that he probably did something that fits the criteria for felony DV. Usually it's pretty straight forward on whether or not a DV is a felony. The aggravating circumstances vary from state to state, but they're usually pretty cut and dry. Did he have a prior conviction? Did he cause serious physical harm (rule of thumb: if hospitalization of the victim was necessary, there's usually PC for serious harm)? Did he have a deadly weapon that he used? Was the victim pregnant at the time? Etc. The hardest part of proving a DV usually isn't the aggravating felony factors, it's the underlying conduct itself.
BTW -- WMR is right on this. Proseuctors don't charge cases, the police arrest and the case is taken by the prosecutor for presentation to the grand jury. The grand jurors decide whether or not charges are brought and what those charges should be. Ultimately, grand jurors can decide to do whatever they want. Plenty of cases that could be felonies (thefts over $500, shoplifting where the clerk gets punched that could be a robbery) get sent back for prosecution as misdemeanors.
Of course, DV is a charge that has a lot of political charge to it. It generally doesn't go over well in the public when the police or the prosecutors are perceived as "soft" on domestic violence cases in general.