Domestic violence continues to be a serious concern for scores of families in California. A conviction on a domestic violence charge can very negatively impact your life for many years to come.
But what if you are falsely accused of a crime of domestic violence? How will you be able to dispute the charge and clear your name?
WHY IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE TREATED SO SERIOUSLY IN CALIFORNIA?
Accusations of domestic violence are treated quite seriously in the California criminal justice system. That’s because, historically, when authorities have not taken such accusations seriously, tragedy has sometimes been the result.
The legal penalties and extra-legal consequences for a domestic violence conviction are quite harsh in California – even if you are wrongly accused or convicted.
If you have been accused or formally charged with domestic violence in southern California, you must be advised and represented by an Orange County criminal defense attorney with substantial domestic violence defense experience.
Your freedom and your future could depend on it.
HOW IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DEFINED UNDER CALIFORNIA LAW?
In this state, domestic violence is defined as abusive conduct toward someone who has an “intimate relationship” with the purported offender. Relationships that are considered “intimate” may include:
1. married partners and divorced ex-spouses
2. cohabitating partners
3. parents who share a child or children, even if they no longer live together
4. couples who currently date or previously dated
HOW IS ABUSIVE CONDUCT DEFINED?
Abusive conduct is defined broadly by the law in this state. It includes:
1. physical and emotional abuse
2. stalking, harassing, and making threats
3. destroying property
4. any attempt even to engage in any of these behaviors
HOW WILL A DEFENSE ATTORNEY HANDLE A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE?
In many cases of alleged domestic violence there is little or no physical evidence, and in fact, some domestic violence prosecutions are based entirely on the statements of the presumed victim.
Especially if your case goes before a jury, and if there is little or no physical evidence, it can essentially end up as one person’s word against another’s, and most jurors very much want to protect perceived victims from potential harm.
If you are charged with a crime of domestic violence in California, and particularly if the charge is false, it can be crucial to understand how preconceived notions, attitudes, and prejudices can subtly influence jurors and others involved in the case.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU FACE A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGE?
The decisions that you make at the time you are accused of domestic violence and immediately thereafter will be critical. Here are some important recommendations for anyone who is facing a pending domestic violence charge:
1. Stay away. Do not contact or confront the person who has accused you. Your behavior is going to come under serious scrutiny at this time, so do not play into your accuser’s hands.
2. If speaking to your accuser is absolutely unavoidable, be accompanied by a witness who is reliable.
3. Stay off Facebook, Twitter, and the other social media sites. Anything that you say online or that you upload can be used as evidence, and in a domestic violence case, it could be twisted and used against you.
4. Look for evidence that helps you prove the domestic violence allegations are false. Text messages, voicemails, and emails might provide some clues to your accuser’s motives.
5. Make sure that you have friends or other witnesses who can testify regarding your character or testify on your behalf regarding specific allegations.
6. The first and most important thing to do if you are falsely accused of domestic violence in southern California is to put your case immediately in the hands of a criminal defense attorney.
HOW ARE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES PROSECUTED?
Depending on the details of a domestic violence allegation, the charge may be filed by the prosecutor as a felony or as a misdemeanor, but if no one is injured and no property has been damaged, you are probably looking at a misdemeanor charge.
However, if a defendant has any prior convictions for domestic violence or any other serious crime, a California prosecutor has the discretion to bring a more serious charge.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTION?
A misdemeanor domestic violence conviction can be penalized with fines, community service, up to six months in jail, and court-ordered counseling.
A conviction for a domestic violence felony in this state can be penalized by up to four years in prison, depending on the nature of the allegation.
A domestic violence conviction could also make it difficult to keep your job or find employment. If you have a professional license in California, that license will probably be suspended or revoked.
And Californians who lose their right to own a firearm often lose that right because of a domestic violence conviction.
Clearly, anyone who is falsely accused of domestic violence in this state must be represented by a defense lawyer with ample domestic violence defense experience, someone who knows what it takes to prevail against a false domestic violence charge.
Experienced criminal defense lawyers, family law attorneys, and southern California judges have seen more than a few false domestic violence allegations. In fact, it’s probably more frequent than you think.
WHY ARE FALSE DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ACCUSATIONS MADE?
False accusations of domestic violence are made for all kinds of reasons. An ex-spouse in a custody dispute may be trying to gain an advantage, or a resentful teenager might falsely accuse a step-parent simply out of spite.
Each case is unique, but a good defense attorney can usually discredit entirely a false domestic violence accusation. Self-defense is sometimes offered as a defense strategy. If you were defending your personal property, that might also be a successful defense.
Having the right defense strategy is important if you’ve been falsely accused of domestic violence, but what’s even more important is having the right defense attorney.
HOW CAN A DEFENSE LAWYER HELP?
Any successful defense against a false domestic violence charge will require the talents and skills of a criminal defense lawyer who can advocate forcefully on your behalf while protecting your rights and bringing your case to its best possible conclusion.
If you are falsely accused of domestic violence, you must dispute the charge – as forcefully as possible. Therefore, you must seek the legal help you need as early as possible.
A false domestic violence charge puts your freedom and your future at risk. Take no chances. Get the high-quality defense representation that you’re going to need. That is your right.