Domestic violence is a painful, personal crime that can result in serious consequences. According to California law, those found guilty of domestic violence can face three years’ probation minimum. Many people convicted of domestic violence must participate in a yearlong batterers’ program and lengthy counseling sessions. Jail time and heavy fines are also possible. However, our skilled Riverside domestic violence lawyer can prepare a strong defense in your favor.
If you face accusations of domestic violence, you need to know exactly what you are up against. The term “domestic violence” does not simply refer to striking a spouse. Actions of domestic violence can also include:
Domestic violence-related calls for assistance have relatively declined since 2005; in 2014, the most current year data is provided for, there were 155,965 calls related to domestic abuse. In the interactive graph above, physical means the caller reported hands, feet, etc as the type of weapon used against them. The data was pulled from the Office of the Attorney General.
The potential penalty depends on a number of different factors. These variables include: the type of domestic violence charge, the seriousness of the facts and circumstances, prior criminal history, the existence/absence and severity of injuries, factors in mitigation, and, most importantly, how good of a job your lawyer does.
That being said, for a Felony Domestic Violence case with injuries (Penal Code 273.5(a)), the sentence can range anywhere from Probation, all the way up to 4 years in State Prison. If the injuries are significant to qualify as “Great Bodily Injury” under Penal Code 12022.7, that potential total sentence jumps up to 7 years in State Prison, and you will be required to serve 85% of that sentence.
If probation is granted on ANY domestic violence case in California whether Felony or Misdemeanor, the law requires, under California Penal Code Section 1203.097, a number of extremely onerous requirements, including:
In addition to those penalties, anyone convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence or simple battery- abuse on a spouse or cohabitant- in California is banned by California law from owning or possessing a firearm or ammunition for 10 years and could face up to a year in jail, 3-5 years of probation, a mandatory 52 week domestic batterer’s program, community service, a restraining order and fines.
Anyone who suffers a felony conviction (domestic violence or otherwise) in California is banned from owning or possessing a firearm or ammunition for LIFE.
Additionally, Federal law also bans anyone convicted of any domestic violence crime, misdemeanor OR felony, from owning or possessing a firearm for LIFE.
Ultimately, a domestic violence conviction can be life altering. On top of the direct consequences of a conviction, the collateral consequences can be devastating. A conviction can impact the course of divorce proceedings, affect your custody rights, cost you your employment, and cost you your reputation.
False accusations of domestic violence happen more often than people think. The charges you face determine how your case is handled. For example, in California, the defendant usually faces general assault or battery charges. It is then up to the state to prove the victim was a spouse, dating partner, or other family member, which makes the case a domestic violence one. Graham Donath or one of the other attorneys in our firm may ask you the following questions:
Was this a case of self-defense? Sometimes, the perpetrator of domestic vabuse is the alleged victim. In some jurisdictions, police must initially arrest the person who looks like the primary aggressor in domestic violence cases. Yet if you committed an aggressive act in self-defense, your attorney can craft your case accordingly and open the issue in court.
Being accused of a crime is a daunting prospect. Knowing the facts about how the criminal charge process works can help bring you some peace of mind. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers about criminal charges and domestic violence.
After an arrest, police are within their rights to question you. It’s best to use your right to remain silent at this time. During the course of your arrest, you’ll be booked and processed. The police will take your picture, fingerprint you, and then hold you in custody until a judge can schedule your arraignment.
An arraignment is a legal process by which a judge will read the charges against you and ask you how you would like to plead. You may plead guilty to a lesser charge or not guilty.
If a district attorney decides to file felony charges, you may not meet with a judge, but a grand jury, which is a group of randomly selected individuals who listen to the evidence and decide if there’s enough evidence for you to stand trial.
A judge may decide to release you on your own recognizance, which is a promise to return for your court date. They alternatively may allow you to leave jail until your court date, if you post bail. The judge sets a bail amount based on the severity of your crime and your likelihood of appearing for your court date. Most counties have a “Bail Schedule” that pre-determines what the bail should be for each particular charge in that county. Although these numbers are not set in stone, to get the Judge to lower the bail (or for the prosecution to raise the bail), a compelling case will need to be made for the Judge to deviate from the ordinary bail schedule for that crime.
In the eyes of the law, you can represent yourself in a criminal proceeding, but this is unwise. An attorney knows the court system and provides the best chance of a fair deal.
If you can’t afford an attorney, the court may appoint a public defender for you. While public defenders are generally committed to their clients, their caseloads are simply too heavy to provide individual attention you deserve. We advise getting help from a criminal defense law firm with experience and an ability to give you the attention you deserve. Most law firms have payment plans available.
You may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, which have different classes. The difference in these classes is maximum fines and jail time. For example, a Class A felony may carry a life sentence, while misdemeanors may carry a sentence of only six months.
If you decide to plead not guilty, your lawyer will compile evidence and prepare for trial. When they decide it’s in your best interest, they’ll negotiate a plea deal or ask for a deferred sentence. An experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to resolve your case without ever having to go to trial, possibly through a preliminary hearing.
In domestic violence cases, it’s common for the other party or the courts to file a restraining order. It’s imperative to follow the directions of this order exactly. Failing to adhere to its rules will only give the district attorney evidence to use against you.
Your lawyer may ask for a deferred sentence, in which case, you can enter a guilty plea and waive your right to trial, and your sentence will be deferred as long as you adhere to certain conditions. For example, you may agree to complete a domestic violence program and promise not to commit further offenses. Once you’ve fulfilled the terms of the agreement, charges will be dismissed.
A domestic violence conviction can have a huge impact on the course of a custody battle. The Judge in your family law case will not be interested in the facts of what really happened if you are convicted of a crime of domestic violence, and most often you will find yourself on the losing end of your case. A judge can consider domestic violence when determining custody of a child, and you could be limited to only supervised visitation until you’ve completed a parenting course.
If you are facing these charges, call our domestic abuse attorney immediately. Graham Donath represents both Riverside and Orange counties. He is also a board-certified specialist in criminal defense law who has successfully defended thousands of misdemeanor and felony cases, including domestic violence disputes. Contact us, here.
“I got arrested after I was accused of domestic violence. I was referred to Mr. Donath by some attorney in court on my first court date and called him. Boy am I glad I did. A few months later and all criminal charges dismissed and all I had to do was pay a fine. I can’t say enough about what a great and trustworthy lawyer he was.” – Jeff W.