Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer
Violence between family members, romantic partners, or people who live together in the same home is referred to as domestic violence. Under California law, allegations of domestic violence can have far-reaching consequences because the accused individual's freedom, family, and reputation may all be on the line.
Domestic violence can result in the criminal charge of battery under California Penal Code Section 242. This section defines battery as the "willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the person of another." Battery is punishable by up to four years of imprisonment.
Prosecutors can also charge defendants under Penal Code Section 273.5, which states that "[a]ny person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition" upon a domestic victim is guilty of a felony punishable by up to four years of imprisonment.
If a defendant has had prior domestic violence convictions, these penalties can be increased.
Penal code Section 243(e)(1) states that:
"When a battery is committed against a spouse, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, a person who is the parent of the defendant's child, former spouse, fiancé, or fiancée, or a person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, the battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. If probation is granted, or the execution or imposition of the sentence is suspended, it shall be a condition thereof that the defendant participate in, for no less than one year, and successfully complete, a batterer's treatment program, as described in Section 1203.097, or if none is available, another appropriate counseling program designated by the court. However, this provision shall not be construed as requiring a city, a county, or a city and county to provide a new program or higher level of service as contemplated by Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution."
Not only do people who are accused of domestic violence face possible criminal prosecution, they can also lose custody of children or have other burdens placed on them by an order of the court. For example, an individual who alleges domestic violence can try to get a restraining order against the alleged perpetrator. A domestic violence restraining order can greatly limit where offenders are able to go and what they are able to do. Restraining orders can even force offenders to move out of their home or prohibit them from having access to their children. In addition, California state law says that if a restraining order is entered against an abuser, he cannot have a gun in his possession or buy a new gun while the order is in effect.
It is also possible for a victim to obtain a temporary restraining order "ex parte." This means a judge can grant a temporary restraining order based solely on the victim's allegation at a hearing where the defendant is not present. A second hearing is then scheduled to decide if the restraining order should be extended. At this hearing, the defendant will be given a chance to tell his side of the story and argue that the restraining order should not be granted.
Damages to Reputation
A domestic violence charge can impact on a person's reputation in the community. A domestic violence conviction can create a stigma with employers, business associates, neighbors, and peers. Consequently, this informal social punishment can often be every bit as damaging as the legal penalties. Depending on the circumstances that surround your case, a domestic violence charge could cause the person to fail a background check while looking for employment.
Common Defenses to Domestic Violence Accusations
The following are the most common defenses to domestic violence accusations:
- Defense of others
- Defense of property
- Lack of intent (i.e.__, accident)
- False accusation or exaggerated accusation
- An alibi
- Lack of proof
Anyone who's accused of domestic violence should contact a skilled domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible. An experienced defense attorney will be able to analyze the facts of the case and determine whether and how the above defenses can be applied. The attorney can also fight to make sure that a person who's accused of domestic violence is not subject to overbearing or overly harsh legal penalties. At the Law Offices of Scott D. Hughes, we have years of experience serving clients in these types of cases in Los Angeles and throughout Orange County. If you have been accused of domestic violence, we can help protect your rights and reputation.