One of the most common calls that I get as a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles is, “I was arrested for domestic violence, now what do I do?” This is a great question and the full answer is usually surprising to most people.
After someone gets arrested for domestic violence, there is usually an 8-day criminal protective order that is immediate issued so that the person arrested may not contact, be within 100 yards of, harass or annoy the victim in the case. If the suspect posts bail and is given a future court date, this can be anywhere from 3 to 8 weeks from the day they bail out. Thus, if the temporary criminal protective order expires, they are free to cohabitate or have contact with the victim.
The tricky part of these cases is once the court proceedings start. For felonies in California, with certain limited exceptions, the defendant needs to be present at court for all court appearances. In misdemeanors, with certain exceptions, a privately-retained criminal defense lawyer can appear on the client’s behalf without them having to be present. In both cases, in any case involving “violence”, of which domestic violence is apart of, the defendant needs to be present on the first day of court to received service of the new criminal protective order against them.
Yes, you heard correctly. A new protective order. As was explained above, this order (typically) prevents the defendant from being within 100 yards of the victim, the location where the incident happened and prevents them from calling, texting, emailing or otherwise making contact with the victim. This order lasts for the duration of the case, which can mean up to several months. So, keep in mind that there might be the case where, if you are charge with domestic violence, you may need to find alternative living situations, not be in contact with your spouse or significant other and have other limitations with regards to daily life activities. A violation of this order can lead to a new, separate, criminal charge against you.
A victim may choose to show up to court in an attempt to ask the judge to allow a “peaceful contact” order and not a full stay-away. This would allow the defendant and the victim to live together and have contact, but would prohibit any non-peaceful contact by the defendant. Keep in mind that this is really up to the judge, so if it is early on in the case or the violence in the case was significant, a judge may decide not to allow peaceful contact even if the victim shows up in court and says that they would like the order changed.
Now, once all of the “preliminary” matters are dealt with, comes the litigation of the actual case. Domestic violence can be charged a number of different ways in California. First off, it can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case, injuries, defendant’s prior record. Secondly, there are several different Penal Code sections that deal with an incident among those in a domestic relationship. Corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant, domestic battery, child abuse, child neglect, elder abuse and criminal threats are all examples of “domestic abuse” related charges.
Oftentimes these cases come down to a “your words against theirs”, or a “he said, she said” type case. Thus, what the victim says on a 911 call and what they might have said to responding officers or a detective at the police station is highly relevant in determining how to handle a domestic abuse case. In many instances, depending on the types of statements made by the victim and to whom, if they victim does not show up to court, the prosecution may not be able to use those statements at trial.
It is important to “plan early” for domestic violence cases. Maybe even more so than with other criminal charges. It is important to be aware of the protective order that will be issued and make arrangements for that. It is important to note that you will never be able to own a firearm if you are convicted of domestic violence. It is also important to note that in nearly all instances of a conviction of a domestic violence charge, the defendant will have to complete a 52-week Los Angeles County approved domestic violence class, among other terms and conditions of probation. It is also important to note that a conviction for certain domestic violence charges can have a devastating impact on someone’s immigration circumstances.
This is why contacting Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich as early as possible can help for you to plan how to fight the charges. A Los Angeles domestic violence lawyer will know what steps that can be taken prior to the arraignment might make a significant impact in the outcome of your case.
If you, or someone you know, has been arrested for domestic violence or domestic battery in Los Angeles, Ventura, San Bernardino or Orange counties, contact Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer Ross Erlich today for a free case consultation at 323-222-4529.