Domestic violence is not as simple as people make it sound, and the police do not always arrest the right person. These cases often include several charges that can be used against you at a domestic disturbance. If you have been arrested in any kind of domestic dispute, you need to speak to a Los Angeles domestic violence defense attorney.
At the Simmrin Law Group, our mission is to help those who have been accused. We do not believe you are guilty just because you were arrested, and we do not believe that a single mistake deserves the massive penalties the system will throw at you. We’re on your side.
How Do the Police Decide Who to Arrest for Domestic Violence?
In many cases it’s frivolous. When police respond to a domestic call, most officers sincerely try to do the right thing. However, they don’t know the details of the situation or what happened before they got there. This means that they have to make a quick decision on who to believe – and who to arrest – with very little information. The way they do it won’t always be fair.
Some of the ways police will decide who to arrest include:
- Gender bias: The stereotype of domestic violence is a man beating a woman. That is not always true – any gender can abuse a partner of any other gender. But when it’s a man and a woman, police will often believe the woman and arrest the man, even if the man acted in self-defense or the story is a lie.
- Who called first: One line of reasoning is that whoever called 911 first must be the one who felt threatened. This isn’t always true. A person may call the police to try to defray a situation, or just as a threat to scare the other person. Then the police arrest someone who may have done nothing wrong.
- Who looks more hurt: If only one partner is injured, or one looks more injured than the other one, police often believe that person. This ignores the possibility that the non-injured person may have acted in self-defense, or that some injuries (like being hit in the head) may not be as visible.
- Who is more upset: If one partner is crying, trembling or upset, police may believe them. This is particularly unfair because men are less likely to openly show how upset they are, even if they are sad or scared on the inside.
- Signs of aggression: You may not have been violent at all, but felt cornered or defensive once police were called. Then, when they accuse you, you get even more defensive. As you act more aggressively, the police start to believe the other partner and arrest you, even if you did nothing wrong.
While many of these situations are honest mistakes, manipulation can also come into play. There are people who understand how domestic violence claims work and use them intentionally as a weapon to hurt or control their partners.
Just because you were arrested does not mean you were in the wrong – or that you have to be convicted. This is why we urge you to fight your case by talking to a Los Angeles domestic violence defense attorney.
For a free legal consultation with a domestic violence defense lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (310) 928-9347
What Counts As Domestic Violence in California?
Domestic violence is not a single charge. It is a catch-all term for situations where a partner has hurt, tried to hurt, or harassed their partner (or ex). Under California Penal Code 273.5, this can include:
- Physical, emotional or sexual abuse
- Hitting or pushing the other person
- Threatening, acting in a threatening manner, or trying to hurt them, even if you do not cause any harm
- Abandoning the person somewhere
- Damaging or destroying their property
Domestic violence can also refer to the mistreatment of children, although these are separate, more serious charges than those involving a partner. With a partner, many kinds of charges can be used, but the two most common are:
- Domestic battery
- Corporal injury of a spouse/partner
Both of these involve using violence or force on another person. Battery can be charged even if they were not hurt (and even if you barely touched them), while corporal injury requires that they were hurt by the attack.
Los Angeles Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer Near Me (310) 928-9347
What Are the Penalties of a Domestic Violence Charge in Los Angeles?
It’s no secret that a domestic violence charge is a serious conviction. The penalties for your charge can be heavy, especially if you’re charged with a felony. The punishment for domestic violence in California can include:
- For abuse of a partner:
- Two to four years of prison time
- Fines up to $6,000
- If you have prior domestic violence convictions, you could have a longer prison sentence and fines up to $10,000
- For abuse of a child:
- Anywhere between one and six years of prison time
- Possible life in prison for major injuries
A domestic violence defense attorney in Los Angeles could be able to reduce the penalties that you suffer because of your charge. By negotiating with the prosecutor and showing that you deserve a lesser sentence, our firm can help you move on from your charge without having it ruin your life.
What Should I Know If I Am Arrested for Domestic Violence?
You should know that you face potential jail time, large fines, and the possibility of court-ordered domestic violence courses, among other penalties. However, you should also know that there are other serious ways that a domestic violence charge can affect your life:
- Child custody: If you are fighting for custody of your children, any domestic violence allegation hurts you. However, being convicted of a crime hurts you even more. Courts are allowed to consider a “history” of domestic abuse and a conviction provides credibility to that “history.” Sometimes a partner will claim domestic violence purely to gain control of the children.
- Divorce settlements: Divorce in California is not decided based on who did something wrong. However, spousal support (“alimony”) often is. If a higher-earning partner claims abuse by the lower-earning partner and gets a conviction, it can prevent the lower-earning partner from getting spousal support, as long as the conviction is within 5 years prior to the divorce. This is true regardless of the gender of either partner.
If you’re unsure of what to do after being charged with domestic violence, your best option is to remain silent and ask to speak to a lawyer.
How Long Does a Domestic Violence Charge Stay on Your Record in California?
Unfortunately, no matter whether your conviction was a misdemeanor or a felony, your domestic violence charge will stay on your record for life, according to the California Attorney General’s Office. That can make it difficult to get a job, a loan, or other privileges that we take for granted.
However, there is a chance that you can get your record expunged. According to California Penal Code § 1203.5, both misdemeanor and felony cases can be expunged from your record. Please note that that does not mean the charge is no longer on your record; instead, your record will show that you were charged and then that charge was expunged.
Can I Get a Domestic Violence Charge Dropped in Los Angeles?
It is possible to get a domestic violence charge dropped in L.A., but you need to fight. In many cases, prosecutors just go by the police reports and then push for the hardest sentence possible. They are used to seeing defendants who do not know how to fight their case, do not have adequate legal counsel, and take the first “deal” that is offered to them.
However, that doesn’t mean the prosecutor has a strong case against you. Often their case is nothing more than the word of the person who accused you, which is not evidence. Simply getting a lawyer and putting up a defense can make a dramatic difference.
Common Defenses for Domestic Violence Charges
Some of the strategies our domestic violence defense lawyers in Los Angeles may use in your case include:
- The accusation is false.
- The prosecutor doesn’t have enough evidence to convict.
- You did hurt the person, but did so in self-defense or defense of your children.
- You did hurt the person, but by accident – such as pushing past them trying to leave the room.
These defenses can be stunningly effective when we help you investigate your case and put together evidence to back you up. Often, simply the act of getting an experienced domestic violence lawyer is enough to get the prosecutor to offer you a better “deal.”
In many cases, we could get the charges dropped for lack of evidence – and you walk away without ever going to trial.
Can I Claim Self-Defense in My Domestic Violence Case?
Yes, you can claim that you were acting in self-defense in your domestic violence case. That is a fairly common defense that those convicted use to get their charge reduced or dropped. However, it can be difficult to use that defense successfully.
When you claim self-defense, the burden of proof is on you. That means that you need to prove that you were acting in self-defense, but the other party does not need to prove that you weren’t. Given that juries can be predisposed to believe the other party before you, that can be hard to do.
However, constructing your defense is much easier with a domestic violence defense lawyer in Los Angeles by your side. Our attorneys know what to look for in your case to prove that you were not at fault for what happened.
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One domestic violence accusation can ruin your life. Don’t face it alone. The Los Angeles domestic violence defense lawyers at Simmrin Law Group will defend you as if you are one of our own.
Let us give you a free consultation to help you understand your case and your legal options. Fill out the form to the right or call us and get your FREE consultation today.