It’s really important to understand that domestic violence charges can have serious consequences. It can completely change your life if you’re convicted – you might go to jail, pay fines, lose custody of your children, and your reputation can be damaged. However, just because you’ve been accused of domestic violence, it doesn’t mean that you’re automatically guilty. In this blog post, we’ll go over some legal options that can help you defend yourself if you’re facing domestic violence charges in Los Angeles.
What Counts as Domestic Violence in California?
Domestic violence is a term used to describe a range of behaviors in California. It includes situations where a partner has:
- Attempted to hurt
- Or harassed their partner or ex.
Examples of behavior that can be considered domestic violence under California Penal Code 273.5 include:
- Or Sexual Abuse
- Hitting or pushing the other person
- Acting in a threatening manner
- Or trying to hurt them
- Even if no harm is caused
Matter or material” includes such items as:
- photographs, negatives, or slides
- computer-generated equipment
Sexual conduct” includes such acts as:
- sexual intercourse
- oral copulation
- anal intercourse
Abandoning a person somewhere and damaging or destroying their property can also be considered domestic violence.
Unfortunately, domestic violence is a common problem in California. Shockingly, statistics show that one in three women and one in four men have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner. In 2020, there were roughly 160,646 domestic violence-related calls in California.
In California, domestic violence can also refer to mistreatment of children, although these charges are more severe than those involving a partner. When it comes to partner abuse, courts can use a variety of charges, but the two most common ones are domestic battery and corporal injury of a spouse or partner. Domestic battery can be charged even if the person was not injured or only slightly touched, while corporal injury requires that the victim suffered injuries as a result of the attack.
When a person uses force or violence against another person, they can be charged with domestic battery or corporal injury of a spouse/partner. Even if the victim wasn’t hurt or barely touched, a prosecutor can still charge someone with battery. Corporal injury charges require that the victim suffered injuries during the attack.
When a Domestic Violence Case is Filed, Legal Process
When a domestic violence case is filed, the charges are determined by the prosecutor based on the specific details of the case and the defense strategies of the accused individual’s lawyer. If the case involves child abuse, it may be heard in juvenile court. In such cases, child protective services will investigate the allegations and if the court determines that the child is in danger, they may become dependent on the court.
Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction in California
A domestic violence charge can have serious and lasting impacts on different aspects of your life.
- Firstly, if you are fighting for custody of your children, a domestic violence allegation or conviction can hurt your chances of winning custody. A history of domestic abuse can affect the court’s decision, and a conviction can provide credibility to such claims.
- Secondly, if you’re going through a divorce and a higher-earning partner accuses you of abuse, a conviction can prevent you from receiving spousal support. This is regardless of the gender of either partner, and the conviction must be within five years before the divorce.
- Thirdly, even without a conviction, allegations of domestic violence can damage your reputation and social life, as friends and family members may judge you without knowing all the facts.
- Lastly, a domestic violence conviction can negatively impact your job, and in some cases, getting or maintaining an occupational license may be impossible.
It’s important to remain silent and speak to a lawyer if you’re charged with domestic violence. You have the right to hire an attorney and have one present for all interrogations, court appearances, or other events.
What Are the Penalties of a Domestic Violence Charge in Los Angeles?
Being convicted of domestic violence can have severe consequences. The penalties for a conviction can be particularly severe if the charge is a felony. In California, the punishment for domestic violence can include:
- For abuse of a partner: a prison sentence of two to four years and fines of up to $6,000. If you have prior domestic violence convictions, you could face a longer prison sentence and fines up to $10,000.
- For abuse of a child: a prison sentence ranging from one to six years, and the possibility of life imprisonment for causing significant injuries.
How To Defend Against Domestic Violence Charges
A criminal defense lawyer will carefully review the police report when you face charges of domestic violence in Los Angeles, California. Their aim is to answer various questions to help build a strong defense strategy, such as:
- What did you tell the police about the incident, and is there any recording that backs up or disputes your statements?
- Did anyone else witness the incident, and do their statements support your claims?
- How recent are the injuries of the alleged victim?
- What was your emotional state during the reported incident, as well as at the time of the police interview?
- What was the emotional state of the victim?
- Did the police report any visible signs of struggle, such as injuries, bloodied or torn clothes?
- Are there any past incidents of violence reported against you by the victim or other individuals?
- Does the home show any signs of physical struggle?
- Do the police observations of the scene contradict your account of events?
- Were you or the victim under the influence of alcohol or drugs during the incident?
Los Angeles criminal defense attorney will carefully analyze the information gathered from the police report to determine the severity of the charges against you. They will also investigate whether you made any statements that could harm your defense or contradict the facts of the case. This analysis is crucial in determining the strength of your defense and the likelihood of a successful outcome. To know more about domestic violence charges expungement, check out our detailed blog post on the topic: How To Expunge A Domestic Violence Charge in California
When your lawyer believes that the police report is in line with your defense, they will begin to collect evidence to strengthen it. In domestic violence cases, defenses typically fall into one of seven categories:
- You Didn’t Do It: If you’re being accused of abusing someone, your lawyer will investigate the situation to build a defense. They will try to determine whether you were present at or near the location where the alleged abuse occurred. Additionally, they’ll try to establish a believable alibi to demonstrate that you couldn’t have been responsible for the abuse. Furthermore, your attorney will search for any evidence that may incriminate you, such as recordings of 911 calls that may have captured your voice, testimony from neighbors who may have seen or heard you at the scene, or physical evidence that could link you to the abuse. This information will be used to support your claim that you did not commit the domestic abuse crime.
- Your spouse or partner is lying: If you believe that your spouse or partner is lying and has fabricated a story against you, the lawyer will work to prove your innocence. He’ll start by examining the injuries sustained by the alleged victim. He’ll look for evidence that supports your version of events and shows that the injuries could have been caused by something other than abuse. The lawyer will also scrutinize the crime report to find any inconsistencies with your story. For example, if you claim that the victim injured themselves in the shower, but the report doesn’t mention any signs of injury in the bathroom, your lawyer will use this information to support your defense. He’ll look for any other inconsistencies that could help to prove that your partner is lying.
- It was just an accident: If you admit that you were present when the injury occurred, but claim that it was an accident, your lawyer will work to verify the truthfulness of your story. For instance, if you say that your spouse was accidentally hit by a hammer that slipped out of your hand while doing repairs in the kitchen, your lawyer will investigate to confirm the consistency of your account. To do this, the lawyer will check for any signs of recent repairs in the kitchen and examine the location of the hammer. They’ll also look at the positioning of your spouse during the accident and analyze any potential blood stains on other possible weapons that could have caused the injury. By doing so, your lawyer will try to gather evidence that supports your version of events and proves that the incident was, indeed, an accident.
- Self Defense: If you claim that you were acting in self-defense or defense of your children, your lawyer will investigate to determine the validity of your claim. They’ll start by reviewing the police report to see if the alleged victim had admitted to using violence. Your lawyer will also try to find out why the victim resorted to violence. For example, did they feel threatened by you? They’ll compare your version of events to the account you gave to the police to identify any inconsistencies. Your actions were a result of my partner’s behavior: If you confess to committing assault against the victim, but argue that it was due to the victim’s temperament, her mistreatment of the children, or her medical condition, the lawyer will likely: 1) Evaluate whether the prosecutor has enough evidence to prove the case beyond a “he said-she said” situation. 2) Look for any evidence that could support the claim that the victim has a history of violent behavior or tendencies.
- Prosecutor doesn’t have enough evidence: If the prosecutor doesn’t have enough evidence to prove domestic violence charges, then it may be difficult for them to secure a conviction. In a criminal case, the prosecutor has the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If they cannot meet this burden, then the defendant may be found not guilty. However, it’s important to note that just because the prosecutor doesn’t have enough evidence at the moment doesn’t mean they won’t be able to gather more evidence later. Additionally, the prosecutor may choose to pursue other charges that are easier to prove, such as assault or battery.
In order to increase the chances of a successful defense, it’s crucial that you work closely with Cyrus Tabibnia, Los Angeles domestic violence lawyer and provide him with all relevant details related to the case. Being honest and forthcoming can make the entire process much smoother. Failing to disclose important information could have serious consequences, such as losing your job or even being sent to jail.