A charge of domestic violence is a serious issue with life-altering consequences for the couple involved. Alameda County has a long history of providing numerous public resources for alleged victims of domestic violence. For example, in 2004, The Alameda County Family Justice Center was one of fifteen recipients in the country to be awarded a President’s Family Justice Center (ACFJC) Initiative grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. However, the best resources for those accused of domestic violence rightly or wrongly in Pleasanton are not public. The best resources for the accused in cities in Alameda County are private attorneys who have experience fighting domestic violence charges.
What is Domestic Violence?
There are a variety of common definitions of domestic violence. Alameda County’s family law website states: “Domestic violence can be physical violence, a verbal threat of physical violence, or a pattern of harassing behavior.” The legal definition in California is broad: “abuse committed against an adult or a minor who is a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or person with whom the suspect has had a child or is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship.”
Two common domestic violence charges in criminal court are “corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant” (California Penal Code section 273.5) and “domestic battery” (California Penal Code section 243(e)).
In a “corporal injury” case, any physical injury perpetrated on a spouse or cohabitating intimate is charged as a crime. If convicted, the accused faces heavy fines, probation, mandatory participation in a diversion program, and imprisonment for one year in county jail or for four years in a state prison.
“Domestic Battery” refers to willful and unlawful use of force or violence imposed upon a domestic partner. The victim need not have vxisible injuries, which makes this charge particularly difficult to challenge unless you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. Those convicted of domestic battery may be subject to monetary fines, enrollment in a treatment program, and one year in a county jail. The criminal case is not the end of the process.
The victim may bring a civil restraining order case and initiate proceedings related to family law or child custody. He or she may also bring a civil case for damages. Further, there are special considerations depending on who the accused is. For example, immigrants who are accused may face changes in their immigration status. Those who hold a professional license may face an investigation and change in the status of their license.
What Happens Once the Police Start Investigating Domestic Violence?
Police who are dispatched to investigate domestic violence are trained to guess who the primary aggressor is. Usually an arrest is made on the basis of this guess, even if the alleged victim makes false statements or exaggerates. The police must read a Miranda admonishment to the person who is arrested and advise the accused of his or her right to silence. Sometimes this results in a one-sided report that is forward to the District Attorney.
The D.A. decides whether to charge a person based on the conclusions drawn by the police, even if the victim later takes back his or her story. Once the charges are drawn up by the D.A., they are not likely to be dropped, though there are a number of motions that a criminal defense attorney can make on behalf of the accused to get the charges or penalties reduced or to win the case at trial. If the District Attorney wins at trial, the judge may impose: jail time, heavy fines, mandatory domestic violence counseling, personal conduct orders, stay away orders, and temporary restraining orders.
Choosing a knowledgeable attorney in connection with domestic violence charges is key to obtaining a favorable resolution. If you or someone you love has been charged with domestic violence, the experienced domestic violence attorneys at Dudek & Cintean can help. Call us at (415) 946-4020 for a consultation today.