Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer in Irvine, CA
Fiercely Advocating For Your Rights
Domestic violence cases are filed when violence allegedly occurs between any individuals who are family members, spouses, girlfriends and boyfriends, co-inhabitants, fiancées, or former spouses.
Any time the police are called in a domestic dispute, someone will most likely be arrested, and it is often the wrong person. Once an arrest occurs, a police report is filed with the District Attorney, and it is then up to the District Attorney’s office to determine whether or not criminal charges will be filed. It is not up to the individual or alleged victim to “drop the charges”. The only one with the ability to drop charges is the district attorney. Unfortunately, because many domestic violence victims recant out of fear of retaliation or remorse, the district attorney’s office will not generally listen when an alleged victim comes to them after the fact and says that nothing happened.
If you are facing domestic violence charges, contact my office online or by phone at (949) 264-0696 to schedule a consultation as soon as you think you may be in trouble. The sooner we work together, the more I can help.
Punishments for Domestic Violence in CA
The punishment for domestic violence offenses involves a 52-week “batterer’s treatment program”, fines, and community service. Additional punishment may be required by the district attorney or court, depending on the seriousness of the offense. This punishment can also include jail time, especially if there are visible or significant injuries involved.
There can be many other consequences of domestic violence charges. Domestic violence charges can affect someone’s immigration status. It can affect professional licenses. It can affect custody battles.
Domestic violence charges can be filed over what seems like the simplest things, and they can turn your life upside down. Let’s say you get into an argument with your spouse or partner. Things get a little heated. Your spouse goes to pick up the phone, but you want her attention, so you grab the phone out of her hand and throw it. She gets mad and calls the police. Once the police arrive, they are going to arrest someone even if you tell them it’s nothing. You could be charged with spousal battery for grabbing the phone, vandalism for throwing the phone, and child endangerment or neglect if children are present.
How is it possible that something as simple as grabbing a phone out of your wife’s hand could have life-changing consequences?
Many times charges are filed against the innocent party as well. It is quite common for a victim to be arrested.
Temporary Protective Orders
First, there may be a temporary protective order. The police can issue a protective order during the arrest and make you leave your home. This means that if you have children who were present during the encounter, you may not be able to see them. You also may not be permitted to have any contact with your spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, and/or your children for a period of time, until you go to court.
Generally, the district attorney’s office will file domestic violence cases more quickly than other cases because they want to get in front of the judge and get a protective order.
Peaceful Contact Order
The alleged victim might not want a protective order because they want their spouse or loved one to come home, perhaps to help with the children. In these situations, the alleged victim must appear in court at the arraignment and ask the judge for a peaceful contact order. This type of order allows the accused to have contact but cannot engage in any violence.
The DA’s office is very skeptical of these requests. Victims often don’t want criminal charges filed against their loved ones. The DA believes that the alleged victim wants their loved one home because they are financially dependent on this person to pay the bills, or they’re scared of retaliation.
Court-Ordered Treatment Programs
The minimum penalty for a domestic violence charge in California involves a 52-week batterer’s treatment program. The class meets once a week for an entire year, and you must show the court proof of enrollment in the class and proof of completion in the class.
Community Service & Fines
Domestic violence convictions also require eight hours of community service. In addition to any other sentence that may be imposed, there are multiple different fines that must be paid.
Great Range in Punishment
Depending on numerous factors, a domestic violence charge can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. Those convicted of a felony can be sentenced to serve time in a California state prison. Misdemeanor convictions also carry possible jail terms, but they are served in county jail. A misdemeanor conviction can eventually be petitioned for expungement from their criminal record after 10 years.
There are “wobbler” charges (those that can be treated as a felony or misdemeanor), such as inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner.
Depending on the level of the charge, fines can be hundreds or thousands of dollars.
Potential collateral consequences of domestic violence convictions include the following:
- Lose the right to vote
- Lose the right to possess or own a firearm
- Reduce your ability to find employment
- Lose a professional license
- Influence court decisions about child custody and visitation
- Impact your ability to obtain housing
- Deportation (if a noncitizen)
- Pay restitution to the other party
California’s domestic violence laws have considerable nuance and complexities. Never fight domestic violence charges on your own. An experienced attorney can guide you through the maze and work aggressively on your behalf to get charges dropped or reduced.
Defenses in Domestic Violence Cases
If you are charged with a domestic violence case in California, you must call my office immediately so that I can help you. Even misdemeanor charges can be very expensive, very time-consuming, and extremely inconvenient.
There are numerous defenses for domestic violence charges. I’ve had many cases dismissed because the wrong person was arrested.
If the consequences are going to cause immigration problems for you, there are ways of possibly convincing the district attorney’s office to change the charges, so you don’t lose your legal status. The DA’s office must consider the immigration consequences.
There are several strategies that a lawyer can reduce or eliminate repercussions. Do not go to court alone on a domestic violence case.
Previous Domestic Violence Cases Handled
One of my clients was repeatedly beaten by her boyfriend. One night it got out of hand. He was sitting on top of her with his hands around her neck. Her only defense was to scratch him on the back with her nails. He called the police, and she was arrested for domestic violence because of the scratch marks on his back, even though she desperately tried to convince the police that he was attacking her and she was only trying to defend herself. The client was forced to leave her home with her son. They had no place to go. I was able to have the case dismissed, but not without tremendous hardship to my lovely client.
Another client got into an argument with her husband. She ran down the hall to get away from him and slammed the bedroom door. He jammed his foot in the door to prevent her from closing it and received a scratch on his leg. They had two young girls, and when one of them heard her parents arguing, she called the police to ask for help. My client was arrested because of the scratch on her husband’s leg. Since the children got involved, she was not only charged with spousal battery but also child endangerment. A restraining order was issued, so she was forced from her home and could not see or even speak to her daughters. This client was a dentist, so she also faced administrative proceedings with the dental board. I was able to get this case dismissed but only after great heartache and hardship on this incredible woman.
There was another woman who had been repeatedly beaten by her husband. One day she threw a candle at the wall near him out of frustration and fear. He called the police, and she was arrested. It was only after showing the district attorney photos of my client’s bruises that the district attorney finally dismissed the case.
Domestic violence cases can be very difficult emotionally and in many other ways. That is why it is important to have a compassionate and experienced criminal defense attorney to represent you during this process. Ms. Bass is extremely compassionate and has a tremendous amount of experience with these cases. She has also had incredible results for her clients. Most recently, a domestic violence client was charged with criminal threats against his girlfriend and brandishing a firearm. He had two prior serious and violent felony convictions, so he was facing life in prison under the California three strikes law. Ms. Bass had his case dismissed. With the right attorney, you will be given the correct advice, and you will be more likely to receive a favorable result.