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Domestic Violence Defense
As your legal representative, my job is to ensure that your side of the story is heard. When people get in household disputes, a an arrest is usually unexpected. Yet it is usually a result of two people (who are actually fond of one another) that don’t react properly to a stressful situation or argument. Once the government gets involved the case will take on a life of its own.
Unlike what many of the involved parties think, the prosecution does not represent the victim in a case. The prosecution works for the public of the State of California. The state's political will is for District Attorney to pursue prosecution in these cases even when the alleged victim does not want that result. The person arrested for the incident faces felony or misdemeanor charges, possible prison sentence with long periods of probation, the loss of the right to own a gun and is obliged to take a 52 week batterers treatment program along with paying high fines and fees. This class of cases can put severe pressure on tight families and can tear loved ones apart.
These cases can be tragic but they can also be ridiculous. The system tends to believe the worst. Every accident in your home becomes a possible spousal abuse charge. Any heated discussion could escalate into “inappropriate touching,” leading to an arrest. Some spouses may even use the accusation of abuse itself as a weapon, exaggerating facts or circumstances in order to pursue a charge out of revenge or to exert control over their significant other.
These cases are complicated. If you are accused of a such a crime, you need an experienced legal representative that knows how a county prosecutor thinks. You need an attorney that knows how to fight for your right to be treated fairly. You are presumed innocent and your need an attorney like myself that will ensure everyone treats you that way, innocent.
As with any criminal case, these offenses need to be investigated thoroughly with in-person interviews by an knowledgeable defense lawyer. The victim and other reporting parties should be interviewed. My strategic approach begins by locating all the parties of the case and any possible witnesses, then finding out everyone’s attitude and perception of the case. I then compare that to the prosecuting agency’s evidence and look for holes in their case and theories. With this detailed approach I can argue for your case to be dismissed or negotiate in a way that gives you the best result possible.
The Applicable Law
California Penal Code (PC) 273.5 criminalizes domestic violence as spousal abuse or spousal battery. This code section reads as follows:
273.5. (a) Any person who willfully inflicts upon a person who is his or her spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or the mother or father of his or her child, corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to six thousand dollars ($6,000) or by both that fine and imprisonment.
The term "domestic violence" encompasses acts of violence occurring between people who are dating, spouses or former spouses, or those merely co-habitating together.
Typical Charges Against the Defendant
A sentencing enhancement can be added for felony Great Bodily Injury under 12022.7 or a battery with great bodily injury
charge itself under 243(d) PC. Note however that the PC 243(d) charge may not carry an actual jail sentence if it is found to be a violation of double punishment per California Penal Code 654.
Also applicable is CA Penal Code 422 involving death threats or terrorism:
- Endangering Children
- Abuse of Children
- Abuse of Elderly Persons
- Restraining order violations
It is possible for the prosecution to allege all of these offenses together, in essence stacking one on another. This means you could face even higher penalties at sentencing or an increasingly higher bail amount. This is why you need a knowledgeable attorney to review your case and determine if these charges are valid or can be successfully fought.
As you can see, these charges are not so simple after all. Many people simply plea to these charges not knowing what they are or if they even can be proven in their case due to fear or plain laziness. You should always seek a qualified attorney who can look at the case with a discerning eye and find out what you are really facing. Having an attorney at your side will give you the opportunity to make an informed decision about your case, and will alert you to any possible defenses that you hadn’t even thought of.
These charges can be issued as felonies or misdemeanors. Typically, the prosecution will look at the severity of the act of violence, the type of injuries suffered by the victim and whether the defendant has a criminal history to determine how a charge should be filed. The attorney at Paramount Defense knows how the prosecution thinks in this process because he was formerly a prosecutor himself. This gives great insight into how a case may be planned from the D.A.’s perspective.
If you are convicted of a this crime in California, your future could be at stake due to these serious penalties:
- One year jail time or four years in state prison subject to great bodily injury enhancements
- Formal probation (requiring a probation officer to regularly visit you)
- California Penal Code 1203.097(c) counseling class which must be taken for fifty two weeks
- Mandated counseling for parental skills
- Up to ten thousand dollars in fines
- A no contact order
- A court ordered prohibition on owning or using guns.
- A priorable conviction which may be used to increase the sentence in subsequent domestic violence cases.
If you are convicted of violating court orders (i.e. a “stay away”) related to this type of case, you also may face strict punishment. This type of violation charge is usually charged as a misdemeanor and could require a year in jail, high fines and court ordered counseling.
In some criminal cases, the court can step in and prevent the prosecution from going forward with a case if there is an adequate remedy in California civil law that will address the victim's problem. This type of solution is allowed by the California Penal Code in sections 1377 through 1379, but is only available for misdemeanor level offenses. The benefit of this is that the defendant will not suffer present or future criminal proceedings for the offense at hand, and the victim may receive money damages for injuries. However, in the context of spousal abuse or other domestic violence situations, a civil compromise is not allowed per law. This is another reason why these cases are especially tough on the defendant and require expert legal assistance.
Use of GPS Devices
In these types of cases, it is possible to have a GPS unit issued to a defendant to take place of the bail requirement. It can also be ordered by the court to ensure that stay away orders are adhered to. Whether your want to take advantage of this technology to keep you out of jail, or are fighting against it as a means of enforcing a protective order, you will need an experienced legal counselor to put forth a strong case in front of the judge.
If you find yourself in one of the unfortunate scenarios discussed above, contact this law office to obtain immediate help. We can assist you in minimizing any damage to your reputation and help you best explain your side of the story.