Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney
Domestic violence laws are meant to prevent violence between family members, household members, or other individuals who are in intimate relationships. If you have been arrested for domestic violence in Van Nuys, Los Angeles, or one of the surrounding communities, you should contact a seasoned domestic violence attorney about your situation immediately.
According to the Penal Code of California, domestic violence is defined as an criminal act between parties who are involved in one of the following kinds of relationships:
- Former spouses
- Former cohabitants
- Parents (that is, the two parties share a child together)
- Dating partners
Cases of domestic violence are often connected to child abuse, which is a separate charge. Your domestic violence lawyer can help you better understand California’s domestic violence laws and how they pertain to your own situation.
California is a Mandatory Arrest State
California is a mandatory arrest state when it comes to domestic violence, meaning that police are obligated to make an arrest if there is sufficient probable cause to do so. That means that the arresting officer has no discretion as to whether to arrest you or not if probable cause exists. If you are arrested for domestic violence, do not apologize to the alleged victim or make any statements to the police. Even if you are completely innocent, you cannot “talk your way” out of your situation once the police arrive on the scene. By speaking at all, you are only helping the police find probable cause to arrest you. It is not your job to make their job easier!
Domestic Violence Charges and the Penal Code of California
Domestic violence is a general term for a number of different crimes occurring between people in intimate relationships as described above. The most common type of domestic violence charges involve battery. According to Section 242 of the Penal Code of California, battery is defined as the “willful and unlawful use of force or violence against the person of another,” and under Section 243(e) of the Code, when battery takes place between intimate parties it can be classified as domestic violence. If the violence involved “serious bodily injury,” prosecutors can seek a conviction under Section 242(d). If a “corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition” was involved, the relevant part of the Code is Section 273.5.
A conviction under 243(d) or 273.5 can put an offender behind bars for up to four years and result in up to $6000 in fines. A conviction under 243(e), while less serious, can still result in prison terms of up to one year and fines of up to $2000. Other consequences of domestic violence may include losing the right to return to one’s home or see one’s children, mandatory counseling, or being put on parole or probation. If an offender has been previously convicted on misdemeanor or felony domestic violence charges, prosecutors can ask for – and get – even harsher sentences.
Probable Cause and Domestic Violence
In the past, police officers in California could only make an arrest if they witnessed an act of domestic violence. By the 1980’s, the law allowed that the presence of visible injuries such as bruises, black eyes and so on was sufficient probable cause to make an arrest. In more recent years, however, the definition of probable cause in domestic violence cases has expanded and it’s enough for one party to state that a domestic partner threatened them or otherwise intimidated them to trigger an arrest. The courts defend this by arguing that probable cause involves something less than certainty but more than suspicion, and to the degree that a law enforcement official suspects that an accused individual may be guilty of domestic violence, they have the right to arrest them. Your domestic violence attorney can tell you more about California’s domestic violence laws and how they apply to your situation.
Defenses in Domestic Violence Cases
The most common kind of defense in domestic violence cases is that of self-defense. This doesn’t mean representing yourself in court; it means that you acted or threatened to act violently in order to protect yourself. Other common defenses in domestic violence cases include:
- The police arrested the wrong suspect
- The allegations made against the defendant are deliberately false
- The other partner consented to the violence
- There is insufficient proof to secure a conviction
There may be other defenses that are relevant. Regardless of the facts, you should speak with your domestic violence lawyer about your case before deciding on an approach to your criminal defense. You have nothing to gain and everything to lose from attempting to make excuses or explain yourself to police.
Emergency Restraining Orders and Protective Orders
Victims of domestic violence are permitted under California law to seek emergency restraining orders and protective orders in both criminal and civil court. It’s not necessary for a defendant to have physically hurt the victim – just being the target of threats and intimidation from a former or current domestic partner entitles an individual to seek protection through the courts. Once such an order is issued, defendants risk rearrest and further charges if they seek to contact the victim. In cases when no domestic violence actually occurred, this can be an understandably stressful experience. It may not seem fair that the courts will grant temporary protective or restraining orders to an alleged victim without the criminal conviction of the defendant, but that’s the law. If you have been served with an emergency restraining order or protective order because of an act of domestic violence, get help – contact us today.
Contact a Van Nuys, Los Angeles Domestic Violence Lawyer Today
An unfounded charge of domestic violence can ruin more than just your reputation – it can put you behind bars for years and keep you from seeing your loved ones. Remember that once police officers make an arrest for domestic violence, they will aggressively seek a criminal conviction even if the party who made the accusation retracts it and says you are innocent. A dedicated domestic violence attorney can help you hold the people to their burden and make them demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that you are guilty of your crimes. Even when the evidence against you may be overwhelming, a good domestic violence lawyer can often get your charges – and the consequences – significantly reduced. Call the Law Offices of Mark Daniel Melnick today to schedule a free consultation about your domestic violence case.