Arrested For Domestic Violence? Now What?

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.


Immigration Prosecutions Account For Nearly Half Federal Caseload; Immigration Reform Approaching

The sweeping bipartisan plan to reform the country’s immigration system passed the Senate subcommittee drafting it on Tuesday and is now headed to the Senate floor for a vote.  This move sets the stage for what most likely will be a major debate on the Senate floor next month over the details and policies of comprehensive immigration reform.

The main focus of this legislation is the 13-year path to citizenship for the nearly 11 million people in this country without any legal status.  This part of the bill remained intact while more conservative amendments were added to help pass the committee, such as tougher border security measures.

The bill provides for a pathway to citizenship for people who came into this country illegally or overstayed visas as long as they entered before December 2011.  Applicants must get provisional status, show viable income, pay back taxes, fees, fines and learn English.  After 10 years of this, they can gain permanent legal status and apply for U.S. citizenship in 13 years.  This process is cut in half for agricultural workers who commit to jobs in the fields and adults who were brought to this country as minors but serve in the military or attend college.

This is only the first hurdle in the passage of immigration reform and we are yet to see what changes or other modifications are made or proposed in the full Senate hearings and if/when it gets to the House floor.

In related news, immigration-related offenses are now the leading type of federal prosecution, accounting for more than 40% of the cases on the federal docket.  The majority of these prosecutions consist of illegal reentry arrests which occur when someone is caught attempting to cross the border illegally after they have been deported on a prior crossing.

Until about 10 years ago, most people prosecuted for immigration violations had criminal convictions for violent crimes of firearms offenses.  The federal government has increasingly prosecuted those people now with either minor criminal histories or no criminal history at all.  The result of this is that a misdemeanor conviction for illegal entry is now enough to land someone felony charges if they are caught trying to reenter the country on another occasion.

Illegal entry is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in prison.  Illegal reentry has a maximum sentence of two years with the possibility of additional custody time depending on prior criminal convictions.

You might be asking what all of this means to you.  If you or someone that you know is currently facing deportation proceedings, illegal entry or reentry proceedings, removal proceedings or naturalization issues, it is important that you have an experienced attorney handle these matters for you.  Not having an attorney who knows the correct procedure and strategy may not only hurt your current case results but may also prevent you from acquiring legal status down the line.  Contact attorney Ross Erlich today if you have any immigration-related questions or are currently involved in immigration proceedings/prosecution for a free consultation.  Attorney Ross Erlich serves Orange county, Los Angeles county, Ventura county and Downtown Los Angeles, Koreatown, North Hollywood, Hollywood, Burbank, San Fernando Valley and Pasadena.

1 in 10 Los Angeles County Residents Here Illegally

A study conducted by the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration released a study on Tuesday that found that 1 in 10 L.A. County residents is here illegally.  The study also found that many of that number have been in the country for more that 10 years and are the parents of children born here and are American citizens.  1 in 5 children in Los Angeles County has at least one parent who is in the country illegally.

What does all this mean for California and, specifically, Los Angeles?  Well, the study estimates that approximately 1 out of 4 of the estimated 11 million people in the country illegally live in California.  The study goes on to state that immigrants living in L.A. County make a median wage of $18,000 a year, compared to $47,000 for U.S. born residents and that only 33% of these immigrants have health insurance.

This study helps paint a picture of the landscape of Southern California’s immigrant population and how big of an impact immigration reform will make on Los Angeles County.  Currently, Congress is trying to work out a bipartisan plan for immigration reform and many insiders believe there will be some aspect of an amnesty plan for those currently living in the country.

If you are currently living in Los Angeles County and are seeking to obtain a Green Card, Visa, or are facing deportation or removal hearings, contact attorney Ross Erlich today for a free case evaluation.  The face of immigration is soon to change and it is important to know what your options are and to have an attorney lead you through the process

Senate Immigration Bill Slowly Coming Along

The details of the Senate’s bipartisan immigration proposal became known yesterday and, despite reservations by Republicans, the bill looks to be the best shot comprehensive immigration reform that is acceptable to both sides.  Republicans, who were initially critical of the bill, seemed to become more comfortable with the trade off of greater resources for border security in exchange for a “path to legal status” for the nation’s approximately 11 million illegal immigrants.

As you may know, President Obama has made comprehensive immigration reform (path to citizenship) a top priority of his second term and has promised the country that he will do whatever is necessary to achieve this reform.

Some of the key highlights of the bill are the fact that it beefs up security along the southwestern border, gives a path to citizenship by providing legal status and eligibility to for citizenship after payment of back taxes, $2,000 in fines and a 13-year waiting period.  Furthermore, the bill would streamline the nation’s visa system by allowing the 4 million people waiting for a visa to come in and allow as many as 200,000 new low-skilled guest workers to come in over the next decade.

There are many other special exceptions and accommodations the bill provides for depending on whether you are a farm worker, student or serve in the military.  Keep in mind that the bill still needs to get passed in the Senate and the House of Representatives before it goes to President Obama’s desk to get signed into law and a lot of changes can occur along the way.

If you or someone you know is living in the U.S. without any legal status or are here on a Visa and would like to consult about you ability to apply for deferred action or citizenship, contact Attorney Ross Erlich before it’s too late.  Furthermore, if you have been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or are facing an aggravated felony, it is crucial that you consult with an attorney well versed in the immigration implications that a guilty plea might entail.

Contact attorney Ross Erlich is you have any immigration questions in the Hollywood, North Hollywood, Downtown, Koreatown or Westside areas of Los Angeles today.