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How Does California Law Define Domestic Violence? What Are The Criteria?

Domestic violence is in essence a battery, which is the unwanted touching of another person, for example, a push, a shove, a slap or a punch. The basic battery is elevated to “domestic violence” when the victim is in a “special relationship” with the defendant. The special relationship is defined by law, and you are in a “special relationship” with the alleged victim if they are your current or former spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, roommate, someone you have a child in common with, or someone related through marriage. A charge of domestic violence is particularly troubling to employers and prospective employers not only because it involves violence, but because of the special relationship. These protected persons are people in particular that we should all behave in a better manner with, more so than mere strangers.

I Was Arrested In San Gabriel, California On Domestic Violence Related Charges. What Exactly Is The Charge And Potential Penalty If I’m Convicted For A Domestic Violence Charge In Los Angeles County?

The severity of the penalty depends on whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony. If it’s a misdemeanor, the typical charge is 243(e)(1) if the injuries are minor or there are no injuries, which could result in up to 164 days in jail, a 52-week domestic violence prevention class, three years of summary probation, and restitution to the victim, and a loss of gun rights (even for a misdemeanor case), and a complete stay-away order from the alleged victim. This means moving out of the home you share with the “victim.” A charge of 273.5 PC is typically for felony domestic violence, usually where the injuries are severe or lasting. 273.5 PC can also be charged as a misdemeanor for those situations where the alleged conduct and injury is worse than a 243(e)(1) but less than a felony 273.5. It all depends on the facts and circumstances of the incident and the injuries received by the victim.

This is where it is particularly important to get a good lawyer to defend you and fight your case because the police typically arrest the majority of domestic violence offenders and charge them with felony 273.5, which carries a maximum jail term of 4 years and is a deportable offense, as well. The bail amount for a felony 273.5 is $50,000, a misdemeanor 273.5 is $30,000, and a misdemeanor 243(e)(1) is $20,000. If there are additional charges, such as terror threats, use of a weapon, great bodily injury to name a few, the bail amount can significantly increase and so do the potential punishments.

When charged with the domestic violence, whether or not it is a righteous case, an unfortunate amount of defendants are arrested and kept in jail until their first court appearance because of the high bail amount, and or they don’t take the charges seriously because they feel they didn’t do anything wrong, and end up taking a bad plea deal just to get out of jail when they finally are brought to court after a few days in jail and find out that the charges are not going to be “dropped” and they will stay in jail until their case resolves, or they post bail, or take a plea deal. This is one of the most compelling reason to hire a good lawyer right away, don’t wait until the case gets to court.

Is A Minor Argument Or A Slight Physical Contact Enough For A Law Enforcement To Make An Arrest And File Criminal Charges In Pasadena, California In A Domestic Violence Case?

Absolutely. The law is designed to stop the current harm, and to prevent future harm in domestic violence situations, because of that “special relationship” consideration and because the likelihood of another incident is more likely when people are in that “special relationship” because they are so close. Without intervention in the first altercation, it has the potential to result in extensive bodily harm, and in some cases, the death of the victim, or the accused, if no intervention takes place.

If the minor argument is mere a verbal argument, that is not enough to result in a domestic violence arrest, although an arrest could take place for disturbing the peace. However, if there are threats made or if a person threatens to harm the other, there is a greater likelihood of arrest for domestic violence even with a mere argument.

If there is physical contact such as a light push, a shove, or a light slap, that would result in a misdemeanor domestic violence charge. If the physical action leaves a mark, bruise, or other evidence of the physical contact, the arresting charge is typically elevated to a felony at the time of the arrest.

When Police Arrive To A Domestic Violence Call In Los Angeles County, Is An Arrest Generally Going To Be Made?

In most every case, police will make an arrest. Police are tasked with gathering evidence, taking witness statements (including victim and perpetrator), and using those to determine the facts. The police’s job is to get there, stop the violence or the potential for violence, and make the arrest. They don’t come out there to tell everyone to calm down or give a stern talking to the attacker. They make arrests and let the courts sort it out later. This is why some 90% of “victims” who called the police and told them enough information to get their loved one arrested, later recant their story and want the case to go away. The victim changing their mind won’t make the case go away on its own. You need a good lawyer.

Is An Order Of Protection Or Restraining Order Automatically Going To Be Put In Place When Someone Is Charged With Domestic Violence Related Offense In Orange County?

In every County in California, the person that was determined to be the “initial aggressor” will be arrested. The person determined to be the “victim” is allowed to get an emergency protective order from the police, and is always offered one, which is valid for five days. The victim has a right to decline to receive the protective order. When the case reaches the court, the judge will impose a criminal protective order which is another word for a restraining order. This is mandatory under the law. The severity of the incident could affect the requirements of the order, which could include a complete stay-away order from the victim and the location of the incident, which in most cases is also the defendant’s home. A complete stay-away order requires the defendant to move out, have no contact by telephone, computer, or otherwise, not even through a friend, and stay 100 yards away from that person or the children, their place of work, or their car. Contact is possible through the defendant’s attorney of record though, and the typical public defender will not be very responsive to such contacts, so it is another valid reason to get a good lawyer of your own.

A Level One Order, known as a “Peaceful Contact Order,” would allow the defendant to remain in the home and interact as normal with the alleged victim. But, they may not disturb the peace of, assault, annoy, attack, block the movements, track, or follow around the alleged victim. The defendant would then have to relinquish any firearms that they have in their possession by either selling them to a licensed gun dealer, transferring title and possession of them, or dropping them off at the police department. If the case results in a conviction, those gun rights are gone forever on a federal level, and for at least 10 years on the State level, but the federal level would prevent the defendant from ever owning a firearm or ammunition or gun clips ever again.

More Information

For more information on Domestic Violence in California, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling Don at (626) 600-3437 today.

Donald J. Matson, Esq.

Call For A Free Consultation
(626) 600-3437

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