Los Angeles Domestic Violence Lawyer
When there is tension in a home – whether between spouses, parents and children or other family members or guests – arguments can escalate quickly. If the police are called or a domestic violence report is filed, it can be difficult and time-consuming for the authorities to figure out what really happened. Each person involved in the dispute may tell a different story, and sometimes false reports are filed. The State of California requires the police to take an individual accused with domestic violence into custody to remove the potential threat, even if it is not clear whether that person actually committed a crime.
You should be aware that once you are arrested on domestic violence charges, the alleged victim cannot then decide to drop the charges. The decision to go forward with the case rests solely with the prosecutor and not with the victim. You may find yourself facing severe penalties, even if you and your family members both agree that you did nothing wrong.
If you are facing domestic violence charges, it is important to get help from a Los Angeles domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible. We have extensive domestic violence experience, including a "not guilty" verdict from a jury after only five minutes of deliberation. An experienced lawyer will be able to quickly get a handle on the facts and may be able to get the charges against you dropped. It may even be possible to avoid charges in the first place, with early intervention.
Types of Domestic Violence Charges in California
The State of California recognizes a wide variety of domestic violence crimes. Some of the most common include:
- Domestic Battery is the most common domestic violence charge in Los Angeles County. Domestic battery is defined as the intentional and unlawful touching of an intimate partner that is harmful or offensive. You do not need to cause an actual injury to be charged with domestic battery. Typically, your defense might be you did not do it. You also have a right to self-defense of yourself, self-defense of others, and to prevent damage to property.
- Corporal Injury to a Spouse is a charge that you willfully inflicted a traumatic injury on another person who is either your spouse or domestic partner, the parent of your child, or a former partner. You do not need to have caused serious injury, so long as some physical injury was caused. Corporal injury to a spouse is a more serious charge and may be punishable as a felony by up to four years in state prison.
- Child Abuse involves a physical injury or punishment on a child that is more than what would be considered “reasonable” discipline. If you are accused of child abuse, you may also be investigated by the Los Angeles County Department of Child and Family Services (DCFS).
- Elder Abuse is any act that willfully inflicts physical or mental pain on an adult over the age of 65. You may also be charged with elder abuse if you allow a dependent adult to be placed in a situation where their health is in danger. Elder abuse may be punishable as a felony by up to four years in state prison.
- Stalking is defined as intentionally following or harassing another person or making verbal or written threats that cause the alleged victim to reasonably fear for their own safety or the safety of their family.
- Criminal Threats include intentionally threatening to commit a crime that would result in great bodily injury or death.
Penalties for Domestic Violence
In California, the prosecutor may choose to file domestic violence charges as either a felony or a misdemeanor. This decision generally depends on a variety of factors, including the severity of the circumstances and/or injuries caused. For example, if the injuries include broken bones or other severe injuries, the State will generally file felony charges. If you have felony domestic violence charges on your record, you are also more likely to be charged with a felony for any subsequent incidents.
If you are convicted of felony domestic violence charges, your sentence will likely involve significant time in state prison. Additional penalties may include:
- Substantial fines;
- Counseling classes, including participation in a Batterers’ Intervention Program;
- Restraining orders that prohibit you from having any contact with the victim;
- Restitution or payments to the victim for medical bills and other costs such as pain and suffering; OR
- Deportation, if you are an undocumented immigrant.
Your conviction could even count as a strike under California's Three Strikes Law if you have prior felonies on your record.
It Is Critical to Hire a Los Angeles Domestic Violence Lawyer
The Law Offices of Adrian M. Baca has a strong track record of success representing clients who have been accused of domestic violence. We know that police reports on domestic violence tell only one side of the story, and we have experience gathering information to build a solid defense. Our experience can help increase your odds of avoiding charges or having your charges reduced or dismissed once they have been filed.