Incidents of domestic violence happen far too often in California, but false domestic violence charges are also made far too frequently. If you’re charged with a domestic violence crime in California, you must be represented by an Orange County domestic violence defense attorney.
In 2018, more than 166,000 incidents of domestic violence were reported to law enforcement agencies throughout California. Nationally, more than a thousand domestic violence-related fatalities are reported every year.
What constitutes domestic violence in California, and what crimes are domestic violence crimes? Can you successfully challenge a fabricated domestic violence allegation? How will an attorney be able to help? If you continue reading, you’ll learn these answers – and more about your rights.
HOW IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DEFINED IN CALIFORNIA?
The law in California defines domestic violence as the “abuse” of an “intimate partner.” But how is abuse defined, and who is considered an intimate partner?
Abuse is defined as an intentional or reckless use of physical force or the threat of physical force. Intimate partners are defined in several ways by California law. For the purposes of criminal law, an intimate partner is the other parent of the abuser’s child or children or is a current or former:
1. spouse, fiancé(e), or registered domestic partner
2. live-in romantic partner (or “cohabitant”) or “serious” dating partner
WHAT SPECIFIC CRIMES ARE CONSIDERED DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Domestic violence crimes in California include domestic battery and inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner. Domestic battery is any intentional, unwanted touching of someone the law defines as an intimate partner.
The actual infliction of injury isn’t necessary – the threat alone is enough to constitute domestic battery. In California, domestic battery is a misdemeanor that may be penalized upon conviction with up to a year in jail.
Inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner is defined as the infliction of any type of physical injury, minor or serious. Inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner may be prosecuted as a felony or as a misdemeanor depending on the details of the allegation.
A conviction on the misdemeanor charge may be penalized with up to a year in jail and/or a fine of up to $6,000, but a felony conviction for inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner may be penalized with up to four years in prison and/or a fine of up to $6,000.
WHAT ARE OTHER REPERCUSSIONS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTIONS
Apart from the criminal penalties, a conviction for a domestic violence crime has additional consequences. Whether you are convicted of a misdemeanor charge or a felony charge, a domestic violence conviction can also mean:
1. the loss of your right to own a firearm
2. the loss of your parental child custody rights
3. for professionals, disciplinary action by your professional licensing board
4. for immigrants, immigration consequences possibly including deportation
WHY ARE FALSE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACCUSATIONS MADE?
Although domestic violence is a genuine and substantial concern for thousands of families in California, it’s also true that phony domestic violence allegations are a concern, and these false allegations can be made for a number of reasons.
For example, an ex-spouse may be seeking an edge in a custody or property dispute. In other cases, false charges have been made entirely out of spite or anger, or for no apparent reason at all.
Still, every domestic violence complaint is taken seriously by California’s law enforcement agencies. Not taking every complaint seriously can result in a tragedy. If a defendant is convicted of a domestic violence crime, he or she should not expect any leniency from the court.
HOW CAN SOMEONE AVOID A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTION?
That’s why you cannot allow yourself to be convicted of a domestic violence crime. If you’re charged with domestic battery or with inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner, you must be advised and represented by the right Orange County domestic violence defense attorney.
How will your attorney defend you against a false domestic violence charge? Remember, the state must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant is guilty, and in domestic violence prosecutions, that is not necessarily easy.
HOW WILL AN ATTORNEY DEFEND YOU?
Your defense lawyer’s first step will be asking the prosecutor to drop the charge or asking the judge to dismiss the case. If the charge can’t be dropped or dismissed, you should insist on a jury trial, where the right lawyer will argue aggressively for a not guilty verdict.
If a domestic violence charge against you has been fabricated, your attorney will use every available legal tool to uncover the truth. In other cases, your attorney may offer one of these defenses against a domestic violence charge:
1. You were acting in self-defense or in the defense of your property or another person.
2. What happened was an accident and entirely unintentional.
Upon reviewing the details of the case against you, your attorney will develop a defense that is both effective and appropriate. If you’re innocent, you must fight the charge, but whether you are innocent or guilty, you must be represented by the right southern California defense attorney.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD YOU KNOW?
If you’re charged with a crime of domestic violence in southern California, from the time you are arrested until the case is finally resolved, every step you take will be closely scrutinized. Here are some tips that may help:
1. Do not confront the person making the accusation – the purported victim. If you have to communicate with that person, do it through your attorney.
2. Avoid social media. Anything you post to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or the other social media sites might be twisted and used against you in court.
3. Find persons who will testify regarding your good character, and if there are one or more witnesses who will testify in your defense regarding the specific charge against you, that’s one of the first things your attorney should know.
WHAT OTHER CRIMES ARE CRIMES OF DOMESTIC ABUSE?
What you’ve been reading is only the briefest introduction to domestic violence crimes in California. Other crimes that could be considered domestic abuse include child abuse, elder abuse, stalking, making criminal threats, and posting “revenge” porn online.
If you are charged – rightly or wrongly – with any of these crimes in Orange County or elsewhere in southern California, take your case at once to the right southern California criminal defense attorney. Your future – and even your freedom – may depend on it.