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 used against you as a result of a domestic disturbance. If law enforcement officers arrested you or a loved one in any kind of domestic dispute, you need to speak to a Los Angeles domestic violence defense attorney.
At Simmrin Law Group, our mission is to help those accused of crimes in Los Angeles. We do not believe you are guilty just because police accused you or arrested you, 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 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. This is where we come in.
Some of the ways police officers will decide who to arrest include:
- Gender Bias: The stereotype of domestic violence is a man beating a woman. That is not always true. After all, 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 except avoid escalating a situation by not dialing 911.
- Who Looks More Hurt: If only one partner suffered visible injuries, 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 a concussion from being hit in the head or internal bleeding) 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. Cultural myths say women are the victims of domestic violence, and this approach often supports that myth.
- Signs of Aggression: You may not have been violent at all but felt cornered or defensive once the other party called the police. 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.
Manipulation Plays a Role in Some Domestic Violence Situations
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. When this occurs, they can manipulate the responding officers into seeing things from their point of view and have their partner hauled off to jail.
Just because police officers arrested you does not mean you were in the wrong or that the court will convict you. This is why we urge you to fight your case by talking to a Los Angeles domestic violence defense attorney from our team.
For a free legal consultation with a domestic violence lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (310) 896-2723
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, the courts can use many kinds of charges, but the two most common are:
- Domestic battery
- Corporal injury of a spouse/partner
Both involve using violence or force on another person. Prosecutors can charge a person with battery even if they were not hurt (and even if you barely touched them), while corporal injury requires that they suffered injuries in the attack.
Los Angeles Domestic Violence Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
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 a conviction can be heavy, especially if the charge is 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 with our firm could work to reduce the penalties you receive because of a conviction. By negotiating with the prosecutor and showing that you deserve a lesser charge or reduced sentence, we 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, if convicted. However, you should also know there are other serious ways 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, facing a conviction for a crime hurts you even more. Courts can 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. When there is a criminal record to back it up, the judge is likely to side with them.
- Divorce Settlements: Divorce in California does not require proving fault or showing someone 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 latter from getting spousal support, as long as the conviction is within five years before the divorce. This is true regardless of the gender of either partner.
- Your Social Life: Even without a conviction, allegations of domestic violence can quickly upset your social life and do irreparable damage to your reputation. Friends and family members may feel torn between you and your partner or make judgments about what happened without knowing all the facts.
- Your Job: Any criminal conviction could affect your job, especially if you need to serve time in jail. However, domestic violence is a particularly difficult charge to overcome. Your colleagues may look at you differently. In some situations, getting or keeping an occupational license necessary for your job may be impossible with this type of conviction. This is especially true if they convict you of a felony.
If you’re unsure of what to do after you are charged with domestic violence, your best option is to remain silent and ask to speak to a lawyer. You have a right to hire an attorney and have one present for all interrogations, court appearances, or other events. Our team is available and can go to work for you today.
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, a new apartment, 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 may be eligible for expunction. Please note that that does not mean the charge is no longer on your record; instead, your record will show that you faced a charge and the court expunged that charge.
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 start early to address it. In many cases, prosecutors just go by the police reports and then push for the harshest sentence possible. They usually see defendants who do not know how to fight their case, do not have adequate legal counsel, and take the first “deal” that prosecutors offer them.
This is what they expect to happen in your case, too. 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.
When the case is little more than one person’s word against another, getting a conviction and stiff penalties is difficult. We can build a strong argument to clear your name.
Common Defenses for Domestic Violence Charges
We can develop a defense strategy based on the circumstances of your arrest and the facts of your case. Each case is different, though. 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, the act of getting an experienced domestic violence lawyer is enough to get the prosecutor to offer you a better “deal.” It may be possible to get the charges or the sentence greatly reduced.
In many cases, we may be able to stop prosecutors from filing charges or get the charges dropped for lack of evidence. You could walk away without ever going to trial. This is the best scenario for many of our clients.
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 you need to prove you were acting in self-defense, but the other party does not need to prove that you weren’t. Given that juries are often 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. We may have the necessary evidence to show self-defense or explain another approach for your defense.
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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 a member of our own family.
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.