DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES
Domestic Violence is controversial and has gained considerable attention in the news. Going to court without an attorney with domestic violence charges can cause serious problems at home, at work and with your family. Pleading guilty or no-contest to false reported domestic violence allegations places the alleged victim in an undeserved position of power over you, your children and your life.
Sometimes it is very tempting to plead guilty to fabricated charges just to get out of jail or to ‘move on’ with your life. However, the impact a domestic violence charges has on your future job prospects and family life can be devastating. Sometimes the easy way out isn’t the best way out.
Pleading guilty to get out of jail can also cause you to lose your residence…at least temporarily. You need a skilled attorney to make sure that your decision to resolve your domestic violence case is wise and legally sound. Being your own attorney or going with an attorney the court gives you may come back to haunt you. Would you want an overworked and underpaid lawyer “fighting” for you?
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RESTRAINING ORDERS
Temporary and permanent restraining orders in domestic violence cases case cause serious problems. They may require you to have no contact with your children, spouse, loved ones. Even worse, they may require you to move out of your life-long residence. The court has the discretion to impose a restraining order in domestic violence cases. Hire a lawyer who is experienced in arguing domestic violence restraining order.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROBATION TERMS
Pleading guilty to a domestic violence charge or domestic violence related conduct can also cause serious financial hardship. Generally included in domestic violence probation are mandatory fines, court fees, booking fees, restitution orders and, of course, the dreaded 52-week domestic violence class. Class enrollment fees are quite expensive and they charge per class. 52 classes, each class requiring a separate fee. If you miss too many classes then you will be in violation of your probation and could face jail and be ordered to take the class over again. You class may meet on days or evenings in which you must work. The fact that you may have a medical or family emergency is not the class’s concern. Whether you are about to plead guilty or are looking to get reinstated in your domestic violence class, call me before you go to court. A judge may not give you the time to call an attorney in the courtroom holding cell.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ARRAIGNMENT
Don’t go to your arraignment alone because you want to save money. You may actually spend more money on bail that you could’ve otherwise saved had you had an attorney at your arraignment. I’ve had many family members tell me that they are going to post bail before the arraignment. In one case, a distraught mother wanted to pay the bail company $10,000 to bail out her son out of jail. Thank God she spoke to me first. I reviewed the allegations with her and visited her son in jail that night. After getting a better picture of the case I told her to not post the bond and wait until the arraignment as I believed it was a misdemeanor charge at best thereby warranting a $2,000 bail. On the day of her son’s arraignment her son was released with no charges being filed. I saved her $10,000!
PENAL CODE 243(e)(1) Spousal/Domestic Battery
There are two basic ways prosecutor files domestic violence cases, both of which must involve a person committing an act against a spouse/family member, cohabitant, boyfriend/girlfriend, or the mother/father of their child. One important thing to remember is that if convicted of any domestic violence crime, the person will be required to enroll in the 52-week Domestic Violence class, pay expensive fees/costs, and often times abide by a protective order.
The most common way a domestic violence charges is filed against a person is called a “simple battery.” See California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1). The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person willfully and unlawfully touched the alleged victim in a harmful or offensive manner. A common misconception is that there must be a visible injury or some sort of pain inflicted in order to prove a battery. The standard of what constitutes a battery is quite low. A slight touching in domestic violence case may be enough if it is done in a rude or angry way. If convicted of a misdemeanor charge, the person faces up to a year in county jail.
PENAL CODE 273.5 (a)
Another way domestic violence charges are filed is for inflicting an injury on the alleged victim that results in a “corporal injury,” or “traumatic condition.” See Penal Code Section 273.5(a). The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person willfully and unlawfully used force on the alleged victim that caused a wound or bodily injury.
This charge is commonly referred to as a wobbler, a charge that can be filed as a misdemeanor or as a felony. The manner in which a domestic violence case is filed depends on the conduct alleged and the amount of injury sustained by the victim. The sentence range for domestic violence cases varies dramatically on these factors, but can include state prison if the injuries are significant, or if the accused has a prior criminal record, or a prior history of violence towards the victim.
DROPPING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES
In any domestic violence case, don’t be fooled into thinking that the District Attorney will “drop the charges” if the victim doesn’t support prosecution. Most often, the victim’s desire to support prosecution will have little bearing on whether or not a case gets filed and prosecuted. Once the police have been called it is out of your hands. The police will file a police report and forward it to the prosecution.