It is illegal to use physical force or to threaten to harm anyone. However, if the harm or threat of harm is against a spouse, fiancé, cohabitant, dating partner, or the parent of your child, the allegations are looked at as much more serious.
The most common domestic violence crimes are: 1) Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant. A person can be charged with this crime if they strike his/her significant other and cause a visible injury; 2) Domestic Battery. It is a misdemeanor to inflict force or violence on an intimate partner. This California Domestic Violence Law does not require a visible injury; 3) Child Abuse; 4) Child Endangerment; 5) Elder Abuse; and 6) Criminal Threats. Threatening to seriously harm someone can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony. You must have intended to put the person in fear and actually did put the person in sustained fear for this to be a crime.
Unfortunately, innocent people get accused of domestic violence in California all the time and once the accusation is out there, it is extremely difficult to prevent the case from being filed. Even if the accusing party changes her/his mind and no longer wants to press charges, the investigating agency will almost always go ahead and submit the case to the District Attorney.
An accusation of domestic violence or domestic abuse, is usually made during a highly emotional situation between two people. The accuser sometimes makes false allegations out of anger, jealousy or, in child custody cases, accusations are made to try to make the other parent look bad. In other situations, it can appear to the police that there has been a domestic battery when in reality it may have been self-defense or an accident.
The penalty, punishment and sentencing for domestic violence convictions depend upon 1) The seriousness of the injuries, and 2) The defendant’s criminal record. However, most courts impose a minimum 30-day jail sentence, even if it is a first-time conviction and require the defendant to attend and complete a 52-week domestic battery class. Making the punishment even more severe is that a conviction of domestic violence goes on a person’s permanent criminal record. The conviction will show up anytime a routine background check is done. This can be a big problem when applying for employment or for state licensing.
For these reasons, if you have been accused of domestic violence, it is extremely important that you contact a criminal defense attorney, specializing in domestic violence crimes. If an attorney intervenes early, they can speak with the investigating agency and present your side before it is sent to the District Attorney’s Office. Sometimes, this can help the chances of the case not being filed. Also, if an attorney intervenes before the case is actually filed, they can speak with the District Attorney assigned to the case, present your side and other facts that the District Attorney may not have, and often times this can actually result in the District Attorney rejecting the case. Early intervention before a case gets filed is extremely important. However, if the case does get filed, a good domestic violence attorney will know what to do to try to get the charges dropped and the case dismissed, or in the alternative, to get the charges reduced to help preserve your record.
If you are charged with domestic violence in Orange County California, it is important to hire an attorney who is familiar with all of the courthouses in Orange County. A good Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney will have trusting relationships with the District Attorneys, Judges, Probation Department and Court Staff. This will help to ensure the best possible outcome for you.
If you would like to know more about domestic violence in Orange County, contact Orange County California Criminal Defense Attorney William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, CA office at 949-474-8008 or at www.williamweinberg.com.