Domestic violence laws have evolved dramatically, and you must be prepared to safeguard your rights by hiring a California-based Criminal Defense Attorney. Domestic issues are never straightforward, and there are frequently legitimate questions of reality. The police do not have the resources to determine who is right or wrong at the time of the occurrence; thus, someone is almost always taken to jail. Consider one of our prescreened California Attorneys in your Cal Bar Attorney Search.

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Find A California Criminal Defense Lawyer for Domestic Violence Charges

The police and prosecutor can prosecute you with a felony based on minor disputes and mild physical contact. Politicians have been persuaded to believe that all domestic violence cases are savage beatings that will end in a murder. That isn't the case. Most of the time, tempers flare, or alcohol is involved, and things would have worked themselves out even if the cops hadn't intervened. People may lie to the police in order to get a significant other into trouble. Also, the police may embellish what was said or happened in their reports.

Often, incidents occur in the throes of passion that appear to be dangerous at the time. However, following closer inspection, it becomes clear that the two people sincerely love each other and want to put this incident behind them. The problem is that once charges are filed, the victim may not be able to dismiss them, and the case will often go through even if the victim does not want to prosecute.

As a Felony or Misdemeanor

Domestic violence can be charged as either a crime or a misdemeanor in California. Because the prosecutor can choose which one to file, this is referred to as a "wobbler." The prosecutor is responsible for reviewing the evidence and deciding what to file based on the severity of the injuries, if any. If the injuries are minor or non-existent, a misdemeanor charge will most likely be filed. If the injuries are severe enough to involve broken bones, wounds, or other serious injuries, a felony prosecution will almost always be filed.

If the victim is seriously injured, the crime is considered a "strike" under California's "Three Strikes" Law. After that, a conviction will be used to increase future punishments.

The prosecutor's choice on whether to file a felony or a misdemeanor will be heavily influenced by the participants' prior criminal history. The court may impose considerable jail time if you are convicted of felony domestic violence. Restitution, fines, and a counseling class will also be required. A restraining order, which prevents you from having any contact with the victim, may be issued by the court in some instances. Indirect contact involves calls made by friends or others on your behalf to the victim.

An LA-based Criminal Defense Attorney may be able to present facts to the police and prosecutor in a more serious incident, resulting in the charges being reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. A California Criminal Defense Attorney can seek to keep you out of jail or have the charges reduced to a misdemeanor, an infraction of disturbing the peace, or have the charges removed entirely for less serious events that are charged as misdemeanors.

Some of the charges you could face, as well as their associated Penal Code Sections and meanings, are given below:

Corporal Injury to Spouse. A felony carries a sentence of two, three, or four years in state prison. A misdemeanor carries a maximum sentence of one year in county prison. The prosecutor must show that you knowingly inflicted traumatic damage on another person who is either your husband, living partner, child's parent, or a former partner with whom you previously resided. It only has to be a little injury.

Disobeying a Domestic Relations Court Order. There must be a previous conviction of this provision for it to be considered a felony. The sentence is either 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in prison. If there has been no previous conviction, the case is a misdemeanor, and the term is up to one year in prison with a minimum amount of time served if the victim was injured physically. The prosecutor must show that you knew and intentionally disobeyed a legitimate court order issued by a California court after being served with it. When one person walks over to pick up the children and the other person phones the police, or when a protection order is issued by the court but the person detained comes into contact with the other person, this crime occurs frequently.

Battery. This crime is penalized by up to a year in prison as a misdemeanor. The prosecutor must show that you used force or violence against someone you had a relationship with. This is sometimes called a fistfight or a bar flight. This charge can be brought against you just by shoving another person away from you.

Simple assault. This crime is punishable by up to a year in prison as a misdemeanor. The prosecutor must show that you attempted to commit a violent injury on another person when you had the current ability to do so. The victim does not need to be hurt in any way. When one person "makes a swing" at another person but misses, this crime frequently occurs during a heated disagreement. You could still be charged with this offense even if you did not hit the other person.

Criminal Threats. This offense can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor. The penalty for a felony is 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in state prison. The prosecutor must show that you threatened to conduct a crime that would result in death or serious bodily injury, and that you made the remark with the explicit intent that the offense is interpreted as a threat. This crime is most commonly committed when someone is enraged and declares that they are going to "kill" someone.

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Making a bothersome phone call. This is a misdemeanor that carries a six-month prison sentence. The prosecutor must show that you utilized threats to injure another person or their property over the phone or through other electronic methods.

Trying to persuade a witness not to disclose a crime. This offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, you might face up to a year in prison. The penalty for a felony is 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in jail. The prosecutor must show that you tried to prevent a witness or victim of a crime from reporting the offense to the police or another law enforcement agency. This frequently occurs when you ask someone not to report a crime, or when you ask a witness not to come to court after a heated dispute has ended, but the prosecutor has filed a case.

A telephone or cable line has been damaged. If charged as a misdemeanor, the penalty is up to one year in prison. The penalty for a felony is 16 months, 2 years, or 3 years in jail. The prosecutor must show that you purposefully damaged or removed a phone or the line that was connected to it. When two individuals are having a disagreement, and one of them swears they're going to call for help, you either yank the phone line from the wall or damage it in some other way.

Arrests for Domestic Violence

A typical domestic violence case begins with a call to the police for help from someone involved in a domestic quarrel. A number of police officers will come to the call, and they will normally separate the persons involved and take statements from each one separately. Domestic violence calls are now required by many law enforcement agencies to result in the arrest of one or both of the people involved.

The police will try to figure out who the aggressor is and then arrest that person. Police will be on the lookout for any injuries, no matter how minor. The individual who actually dialed 911 may be arrested for domestic violence in some situations. The victim will be asked if he or she wants an emergency protective order and if he or she wants to press charges by the police. The police will conduct the arrest even if the victim says that he or she does not want to press charges.

The person who was arrested will be brought to jail and will have to post bond before being released. A copy of the arrest report would be given to the Department of Public Social Services, which will conduct its own investigation if children were present at the time of the event.

Investigations into Domestic Violence

A suspect will be given future court date once he or she has been detained on suspicion of domestic violence and released from detention. Domestic violence units or detectives are assigned to most police departments to investigate these types of crimes. A detective will be assigned to undertake an investigation once an arrest report has been generated. In many circumstances, the detective will contact the accused again and may obtain new testimonies from the victim, suspect, or any other witnesses present. The suspect can also offer evidence to the detective through his or her Criminal Defense Attorney.

If the investigator believes there is sufficient evidence to prosecute the suspect, the case will be forwarded for filing consideration to the relevant prosecuting agency. Typically, the detective will offer a recommendation as to what charges, if any, should be filed against the suspect and whether the defendant should be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor. The investigator may recommend that the suspect be prosecuted with domestic battery in violation, corporal injury to a spouse in violation, or one of the numerous additional domestic violence crimes. When deciding what, if any, charges to file, the prosecution may conduct its own investigation.

The Los Angeles Domestic Violence Legal Process

Many people who have been arrested and charged with domestic violence have never been arrested before and have little or no prior experience dealing with the criminal justice system. The process can be incredibly stressful, and it has a tendency to break up families.

Anyone arrested for domestic violence should immediately contact an experienced California Criminal Law Attorney who knows how to effectively defend these types of charges.

Prior to the Arrest. When one or both persons involved in a domestic incident are arrested, a domestic violence case is started. In order to be released from custody, domestic violence suspects are usually required to post bond. A detective from a domestic violence unit will normally be assigned to the case, who will study the arrest reports and maybe conduct a follow-up investigation. Finally, the detective will make a filing recommendation and forward the case to the proper prosecuting agency for prosecution. When defending a domestic violence charge, intervening before the matter is submitted for filing consideration is typically crucial.

Arraignment for Domestic ViolenceThe arraignment is the defendant's initial court appearance in a domestic violence case, where he or she is notified of the allegations and is expected to enter a plea. A copy of the complaint, as well as the incident reports, will be handed to the defense. Many domestic violence offenses are "wobbler" offenses, meaning they can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. If the accused is charged with a felony, he or she must appear in person at the arraignment and all following court appearances. If the charges are of a misdemeanor, the judge will usually require that he or she attend his or her arraignment in order to receive a protective order.

Protective/Restraining Orders for Domestic ViolenceThe prosecution in domestic violence cases is usually particularly concerned about the safety of the alleged victim. Typically, the prosecutor would seek a protective order against the defendant, prohibiting him from having any contact/interaction with the victim while the charges are ongoing. Even if the victim has indicated that an emergency protection order is not desired, the court will usually issue one at the time of arraignment. The court may be ready to grant a "Level One" protective order, which would allow the parties to communicate peacefully. In addition, if the victim indicates that he or she wishes contact with the offender, the Court may amend the protection order to allow contact.

Pre-trial Detention for Domestic ViolenceIf the defendant files a not guilty plea, the case will be postponed until a later date. During the course of a criminal case, there may be multiple pre-trial hearings. At these pre-trial hearings, the parties usually exchange discovery and try to settle the matter. If the prosecution believes its case isn't strong enough, or if the victim doesn't want to be engaged, the charges may be severely reduced or dismissed. If the parties are unable to reach an agreement, the case will be tried.

Trial for Domestic ViolenceThe prosecution would have to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. Even if the victim refuses to cooperate, the prosecution can proceed with the trial. The power of prosecutors to utilize a victim's remarks when that person is unavailable for trial was recently limited by the United States Supreme Court. The jury will deliberate and decide whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty after both sides have had an opportunity to present evidence and interrogate witnesses.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for domestic violence, it is critical that you contact an LA Criminal Defense Attorney as soon as possible.

Consequences for Domestic Violence in Los Angeles

Many domestic violence acts are "wobbler" crimes, meaning they can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Domestic violence convictions can result in both direct court sanctions and collateral effects that might haunt the defendant for the rest of his or her life. Many persons who have been charged with domestic violence offenses are curious about the possible ramifications.

Probation vs. Prison. If the accused is prosecuted with a felony-level domestic violence charge, such as assaulting a spouse or making criminal threats, he or she could face jail time if convicted. Domestic violence convictions are often deemed "strikes" under California's Three Strikes Law, which increases punishments for violent repeat offenders.

Those accused of misdemeanor-level domestic violence offenses, such as a domestic battery, as well as defendants guilty of felonies, may be sentenced to probation for a set amount of time. Probation can be monitored or unsupervised, and it usually entails the defendant abiding by the law and serving numerous periods of probation.

Probation for Domestic ViolenceWhen a defendant is imprisoned for a domestic violence offense and placed on probation, he or she will usually be subjected to a number of terms and conditions. As a condition of probation, the criminal may be required to serve time in prison. In most cases, the court might order the defendant to attend anger management or domestic violence counseling. A probation violation may occur if you miss sessions or do not finish the programs in a timely manner.

As a condition of probation, the judge may order the defendant to perform community service or community labor hours. The defendant would be required to pay hefty fines and fees as well as compensation to the plaintiff for any losses.

Order of Protection. A protection order preventing the accused from establishing any interaction with the victim is usually issued by the court. If the victim requests it, the judge may consider amending the order to enable peaceful interaction between the parties; nevertheless, some judges may still need a full restraining order even if the victim desires to contact. For families who might want to stay together but work out their issues, this can be terrible. If the defendant violates the said protection order, he or she may face probation violations as well as criminal charges under California Penal Code Section 273.6 PC.

Loss of a job or a chance to get a job. Employers undertake criminal record checks on prospective hires and current employees on a frequent basis in today's workplace. Employers can be put off by a domestic violence conviction on a person's record. Many businesses in professions like childcare, healthcare, and education will not hire someone who has previously been convicted of domestic violence.

Furthermore, those who are obliged to maintain a professional license with the state, such as attorneys, medical professionals, teachers, and even real estate agents, may face challenges as a result of a domestic violence conviction. Domestic violence convictions can result in disciplinary action or perhaps license revocation.

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Consequences on Immigration. For those who are not citizens of the United States, a conviction for domestic violence can have serious consequences, including deportation. Domestic violence offenses are regarded as crimes of moral turpitude, and non-citizens may face deportation, disqualification from entry, and refusal of naturalization.

Non-citizens who are convicted of certain criminal acts may face deportation or denial of citizenship under federal law. A non-citizen who commits a "crime of moral turpitude" may be deported. Fraud, theft, and a variety of drug offenses are examples of moral turpitude offenses. Domestic violence is also seen as a moral turpitude offense by the US government.

Deportation is possible for any non-citizen convicted of a felony of moral turpitude within five years of entering the United States. A prosecution for a crime of moral turpitude within 10 years of entry to the United States can also result in deportation for non-citizens who've been granted a permanent resident visa.

A "petty offense" exception applies to crimes that carry a sentence of less than one year in prison. This means that if a non-citizen has no other criminal convictions on his or her record, most misdemeanor domestic violence prosecutions may not result in deportation.

If you or a loved one has been arrested for domestic violence, it is critical that you speak with a CA Criminal Defense Attorney who specializes in domestic violence cases at once.

Protective Orders for Victims of Domestic Violence in Los Angeles

In many cases of domestic violence, one or both parties may ask the court to obtain a protective order (sometimes known as a "restraining order") prohibiting the other party from contacting them in the future. Domestic violence victims are frequently encouraged by police officers to acquire these protective orders, which are normally required in any criminal prosecution involving domestic violence.

What is the difference between a protective order and a restraining order?

A protection order is a formal order issued by a judge or other bench officer prohibiting one party from contacting the person who is being safeguarded. The protective order should be sanctioned by a bench official and served on the party against whom protection is sought in order to be valid. This means that if someone is unaware that they are the recipient of a protection order, they are not allowed to breach it.

A protection order usually forbids a person from having any contact with the person who is being protected. This would involve both direct and indirect interactions with third parties (other than an attorney). The target of the protection order would be prohibited from contacting the protected party via phone, email, text message, or social media.

Protective orders require the person who is the subject of the order to surrender any firearms and to be prohibited from holding guns for a set period of time.

Protective Orders of Various Types

There are numerous types of protective orders that can be granted. When the victim of domestic violence is arrested, the police will ask if he or she wants an emergency protective order obtained right away. The emergency protection order is only in effect for seven days, after which the protected person can apply for a permanent protection order, which must be approved by a judge.

A domestic violence protection order can be requested by the victim in court. While the hearing is ongoing, the Court may issue a temporary restraining order (TRO). The Petitioner must bear his or her burden of proof by demonstrating that the protection order is supported by a majority of the evidence. The person who is the subject of the protection order, known as the respondent, has the right to contest the petition and provide evidence at the hearing.

When there is a present or prior romantic relationship, as well as a familial one, domestic violence protection orders are available. A civil harassment protection order can be requested by those who do not have this connection. Those aged 65 and up can also seek an elder abuse restraining order if they have been subjected to physical or financial abuse.

Criminal Charges for Domestic Violence and Protective Orders

When a defendant is charged with domestic violence, the judge will almost always order that he or she be present in order to be served with a protective order. While the case is underway, the protection order will remain in effect. For those convicted of domestic violence, the judge can also impose a protective order as a condition of probation. In some situations, the judge may consider lowering the protection order to a Level One protective order, allowing the parties to communicate peacefully. Before modifying a protection order, a judge will also want to hear directly from the victim.

If you or a loved one is the target of a domestic violence protective order, it is vital that you speak with an experienced California Criminal Defense Lawyer as soon as possible.

Possible Defenses

Domestic violence offenses have been the focus of increased enforcement efforts by police and prosecuting agencies in recent years. Due to the pressure on prosecutors to obtain convictions, many cases may well be brought or pursued despite serious flaws in the evidence. It is important that you hire an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in California who knows how to properly defend clients accused of domestic violence charges in these instances. There could be a number of legal defenses that apply to the defendant's case:

Self-protection. When answering a domestic violence complaint, officers are frequently forced to make split-second decisions based on complex facts. On any domestic violence incident, many police agencies need at least one party to be detained, and responding officers are frequently eager to believe one party over another. Officers will assess any injuries and utilize this information to justify the detention of a domestic violence defendant.

These kinds of circumstances, on the other hand, are frequently significantly more complicated. When a defendant in a domestic violence case uses physical force against their partner, he or she may have been acting in self-defense. To establish a viable self-defense claim, the defendant must be able to establish that he or she was in immediate danger of being killed, hurt, or unlawfully touched, that using force was required to avert the harm, and that the amount of force used was not excessive. This means that, even in cases of domestic violence, a person may use force to protect himself or herself.

  • In addition, many occurrences of domestic violence include the parties fighting one other. This indicates that both the culprit and the "victim" were involved in a physical altercation. It might be difficult to tell who was the aggressor or whether or not somebody was acting in self-defense in certain situations.

In many circumstances, the victim of domestic violence may sustain injuries that are not visible for hours or even days after the incident. It would be crucial to document these injuries in these situations because they would support a claim of self-defense or mutual conflict.

Accusations that aren't true. Domestic violence cases frequently entail emotionally charged situations in which one or both parties are involved. People may embellish facts or make things up in the heat of the moment when providing a statement to the police or 911 operators. These folks frequently come to regret their conduct later on.

In other cases, people involved in contentious child custody or divorce cases may falsely accuse their spouse of domestic violence to obtain an edge in family court. When a defendant is falsely accused, the defense must point out contradictions in the complaining witness' claims or demonstrate how the statements are incorrect. The defense may conduct their own investigation to determine why the witness lied. The witness may concede that he or she was not completely honest with the authorities in some situations. In some situations, the police or prosecutor may refuse to pursue criminal charges.

Insufficient Proof. The prosecution must be able to prove a defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict them of a domestic violence felony charge. The jury will have to acquit if there is inadequate evidence that the defendant committed the offense for which he or she is charged. The defense can introduce facts and witnesses that tend to exonerate the defendant, as well as cross-examine the prosecution's witnesses extensively.

If you or a loved one has been charged with domestic violence, it is vital that you speak with a California Criminal Defense Attorney who consistently defends these types of cases as soon as possible.

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