What is Domestic Violence?
Any Orange County domestic violence lawyer will tell you that a crime of violence, abuse or neglect committed against a certain class of victims is “domestic violence”. This class of victims is set out in Section 16490 of the Penal Code and includes:
- A spouse of former spouse
- A person the defendant is presently living with, or who they have lived with in the past
- A person the defendant is or has dated or a person the defendant is or has been engaged to
- A person with whom the defendant has had a child with
- A child of the defendant, of a former or present spouse, of a person defendant lives with or has lived with, of a person the defendant is dating or has dated, or has been engaged to; and
- Any person related to the defendant by blood within the second degree
In other words, crimes of violence against one’s own inner circle are seen as particularly egregious. Thus, domestic violence crimes, such as domestic battery, inflicting corporal injury, criminal threats, and child endangerment are met with particularly harsh punishment, enhanced protections for the victims, and mandatory extensive counseling. This makes is all the more important to consult with a domestic violence attorney.
What is the Punishment for Domestic Violence?
Most domestic violence crimes, such as corporal injury, criminal threats, or child endangerment are “wobblers”, meaning they can be filed as a felonies or misdemeanors at the discretion of the Orange County District Attorney. Domestic battery (simple assault) is a misdemeanor only. Felony domestic violence is punishable by up to six years in prison. A misdemeanor charge can get up to one year in the Orange County jail. You can see why it is imperative to consult with an experienced Orange County domestic violence lawyer if you face charges.
Even if your domestic violence attorney can keep your case in misdemeanor territory, any conviction for domestic violence, whether felony or misdemeanor, carries some tough terms of probation. First of all, the probation must last at least three years. During this time, you must comply with the court’s protective order, directing you not to have any contact with the victim. Of course, your domestic violence lawyer can request modification to allow “peaceful contact”.
Moreover, you will be ordered to attend specific “batterer’s treatment” counseling; one session per week for a minimum of one year. Also, the court must order you to do community service. The length and type to be determined by the judge (with your criminal defense lawyer’s input of course). Finally, if the judge thinks you could use drug or alcohol treatment, they will order it … at your expense.
Perhaps the most underestimated punishment, but usually the longest lasting, is the stigma of having a conviction for domestic violence on your record. Often, a savvy domestic violence attorney can help avoid a conviction.
What Defenses Work in Domestic Violence Cases?
False Allegation of Domestic Violence
It is alarming how many times in my 14 years as a domestic violence attorney in Orange County that I have represented a truly innocent client. In many of these instances there were child custody issues in play and one parent hoped to gain the upper hand by falsely accusing the other of domestic violence. In other cases the false allegation was made from pure spite or seething discontent that came to a boil. Unfortunately, the police tend to believe whoever called 911 first. But when the jury hears the whole story, presented by a seasoned criminal defense lawyer, these false accusations tend to fall apart.
Everyone has the legal right to defend themselves, even if the victim is much bigger and stronger than the attacker. In many cases, the smaller, weaker, aggressor is the one who calls 911 after the larger, stronger victim fights back. And as any Orange County domestic violence lawyer knows, the one who loses the race to the phone usually takes the ride to the police station.
Defense of Others
The law not only gives everyone the right to defend themselves, but also the right to defend others who are being assaulted. So, for example, if one parent is imposing their version of “discipline” upon their child, if this discipline amounts to a battery, anyone has the right to use whatever force reasonably necessary to end the battery on that child. Unfortunately, any cop, DA, or domestic violence attorney will tell you that this dynamic is all too common in households here in Orange County.
Defense of Property
Yes, protection of your property, by force if necessary, is your legal right. So, for example, if your belongings are in imminent danger of damage or destruction at the hands of another, even a spouse, you can use reasonable force to end the threat.
Free Consultation with an Orange County Domestic Violence Lawyer
At The Law Office of EJ Stopyro we offer a free and confidential telephonic consultation with a veteran Orange County domestic violence lawyer. Call us today at (949) 559-5500. EJ will be happy explain the charges, the court process, and help you explore your options. Our main office is at 32072 Camino Capistrano, 2nd floor, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675. We offer payment plans and accept major credit cards.