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Anyone accused of domestic violence has a difficult journey ahead of them. The emotional turmoil and the upset to the family home associated with these situations are not things that can be resolved easily. If you have been charged with domestic violence in Los Angeles, then you need a skilled, dedicated criminal defense lawyer working for you.
Being Arrested for Domestic Violence in California
Emergency phone calls relating to domestic violence are a common occurrence. A few of these phone calls involve a genuinely dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation. However, the vast majority of 911 calls that involve allegations of domestic violence mask something else entirely.
Frequently, when police respond to a report of a domestic disturbance or domestic violence, they don’t have the time or the resources to sort out what really happened. The person who made the 911 call is automatically the victim while the other party is cast as the aggressor. This is typically the case even when the person who made the emergency call started the confrontation and perhaps even caused the worst of the physical injuries.
Moreover, the police are always determined to take someone to jail when a domestic violence call is made. Once again, it is the person who did not make the call who is usually going to visit the jail for booking and processing. It’s not a perfect response to a very disturbing situation, but it seems to be the default whenever the police are called in for domestic disturbances.
Perhaps the most concerning accusations of domestic violence are those that are completely false. Many people have been known to accuse a spouse, former spouse, romantic partner, relative or other close associate with abuse even if no physical or emotional mistreatment ever took place. These accusations may be made for any number of reasons including revenge, a desire to destroy the reputation of the accused or the hope of prevailing over the accused in divorce or custody matters. Unfortunately, once these accusations are made, it is extremely difficult to have them dismissed.
The Victim Does Not Have to Press Charges
Although the victim in a California domestic abuse case often makes the phone call that starts off the situation, they do not always want to move forward with charging the accused. As clearer, calmer heads prevail and reason returns, they may realize that the other person didn’t intend them any harm. Sadly, if charges of domestic violence have already been filed, it is no longer the purported victim’s decision to pursue charges. California law makes it possible for the District Attorney alone to decide whether or not to proceed with domestic violence charges. The District Attorney reviews all evidence and statements made in connection with the incident. Medical reports are reviewed as are photographs of any injuries alleged to have been suffered as the result of a domestic disturbance.
In fact, the District Attorney decides not only if charges should be pursued but also whether those charges should be at the misdemeanor or felony level. It’s not unusual for the D.A. to look at the severity of the injuries when it comes to deciding to pursue a misdemeanor or a felony. A case that has few or no injuries may not be pursued at all. On the other hand, the D.A. may look at other facts and evidence before deciding to pursue the case as a misdemeanor. If the injuries suffered by the victim were sufficiently serious, then the defendant may be facing felony charges. The most serious injuries may motivate the D.A. to pursue the crime as a strike under California’s Three Strikes law. No matter how the D.A. decides to treat a case, the defendant always needs an aggressive criminal defense attorney working for them.
Penalties for Domestic Violence in California
At the misdemeanor level, the defendant may be sentenced with up to one year in a county jail. Attendance at a one-year counseling program is another typical consequence. Some defendants will be required to pay various fines and serve 40 hours of community service. A stay-away order may also be put into effect. This can bar the defendant from having any kind of contact with the victim and may even force the defendant to move out of their residence.
Penalties for a felony conviction are even harsher as they can include between two and four years in a state prison. They may be given similar consequences such as attending the 52-week counseling program, serving 40 hours of community service, paying fines and complying with a stay-away order. Clearly, domestic violence charges are viewed very seriously in California.
Working With a Los Angeles Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of domestic violence in California, then you need a defense attorney to represent you in court. The justice system appears to be heavily biased toward the victim in domestic abuse cases, but your attorney knows that you deserve a zealous defense. That’s exactly what you get when you work with this firm of Los Angeles domestic violence defense lawyers. These cases can be complicated and emotionally draining, but these practitioners are determined to see justice done. They have the experience, talent and legal skill that are necessary to provide an adequate defense. Their connections with law enforcement and the D.A.’s office help them understand domestic violence cases from all sides. Contact them to begin strategizing your defense.