Top LA & OC Domestic Violence, Battery Lawyers
If you or a loved one’s freedom is at risk due to a domestic battery investigation or domestic violence charge in Los Angeles or Orange County, you must be very careful. The life-long negative effects of a domestic violence conviction can be disastrous.
It is key to get a skilled domestic violence attorney or domestic battery lawyer on your side asap. All cases can potentially be won no matter how they appear at first.
Our award-winning domestic violence attorneys will fight to get the best possible outcome, reduce charges and keep you out of jail. We can help you immediately.
Proven Former Prosecutors Fighting For You
We have an excellent record handling 1,000’s of domestic violence and criminal cases. Our former DAs know how police, judges and prosecutors operate and how they build 273.5 pc domestic violence cases in Los Angeles and Orange County. This inside knowledge helps us identify the flaws to use in your defense.
Domestic violence accusations can be very embarrassing and stressful. False accusations are common from angry spouses looking to manipulate facts for revenge or agenda. Those accused often feel judged guilty before the facts are even heard.
We understand the pressure you are dealing with and are 100% focused on protecting you and your record. We do not judge, we are only here to help.
Experience You Can Trust
Often it is not the facts of the case that result in a great outcome, but understanding the system, relationships and a skillful presentation of your case to the judge or prosecutor. Our attorneys not only know the system, they are at home in it.
You can go to court with confidence knowing our domestic violence lawyer will fight skillfully to defend your rights and achieve the best resolution possible.
Domestic Violence Attorney in Los Angeles & Orange County, CA
Domestic violence resources
California domestic violence laws
Even minor touching can result in criminal charges
Our Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney understands that being convicted of a domestic violence offense in Orange County or Los Angeles can be disastrous for your career, work prospects, immigration status and even custody of your children.
Any physical contact during a tense moment can be enough for Police and District Attorneys to charge you with a domestic battery crime. Even if no harm is inflicted and very little force is involved.
After O.J. Simpson and other high profile cases, police and the courts now assume that all domestic violence incidents are severe beatings that could result in murder. In reality, that’s not the case. Strained relationships, alcohol or simmering emotional issues typically cause a flare up that may work itself out without police intervention.
In our decades of experience as California Domestic Violence Lawyers, cases often involve a mutual fight with valid reasons. Once the police arrive, someone usually must be arrested and taken to jail. Police rarely have a choice in whether to arrest.
Hiring a domestic violence attorney
The first thing to do if you’ve been arrested or are being investigated for Domestic Battery is to hire a top Orange County Domestic Violence Attorney. The life-long consequences of a domestic violence conviction cannot be overstated.
Getting arrested and having your personal life examined in criminal courts is embarrassing and nerve racking. No one wants the government involved in their personal relationship.
It is now more important than ever to hire an experienced domestic abuse lawyer to help navigate the land mines in the system and law enforcement eager to show they are tough on alleged abusers.
The nature of domestic violence accusations is that they are easily exaggerated or distorted by an angry spouse or ex with an axe to grind. Little to no physical evidence is required and the system has little safeguards to protect innocent women and men wrongfully accused. Usually whoever makes the 911 call will be defined as the victim.
Once charges are filed, the case takes on a life of it’s own and the people involved lose control. Victims are unable to dismiss charges if they don’t wish to prosecute.
Penalties for domestic violence conviction
The state legislature has chosen to be very tough on domestic violence charges in California and has enacted some of the toughest domestic violence laws and penalties in the United States. Orange County and Los Angeles courts enact stiff punishment for penal code 273.5 pc, the most common charge.
Corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant penal code 273.5 pc is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor crime depending on the severity of injuries, prior criminal history and the circumstances of the crime.
Misdemeanor 273.5 pc penalties for conviction can be:
Up to 1 year in county jail time
A fine of up to $6,000
Lifetime loss of the right to own a firearm (AB 3129)
Restitution to the victim
A 52-week batterer’s program and/or a domestic violence restraining order.
Felony 273.5 pc conviction can increase penalties to:
2-4 years in state prison
Felony probation, and/or
Additional 3-5 years in prison if you caused the victim “great bodily injury” or a significant physical injury (12022.7 pc great bodily injury enhancement)
Count as a strike under the Three Strikes Law if involved great bodily injury
Potential loss of a professional license (such as attorney license to practice)
Conviction within 7 years of a prior DV conviction:
Up to 1 year in county jail time or 2-5 years in state prison and/or
A fine of up to $10,000
Considered a “crime of moral turpitude” affecting immigration
Violations of 273.5 pc that involve spousal injury are classified as “crimes of moral turpitude” under immigration law. If you’re convicted of domestic violence, it could lead to the loss of your right to become a United States citizen, apply for a green card or visas or even enter the country. It can be a deportable crime for non-US citizens.
Can an accuser “drop” the charges?
The short answer is No.
Many wonder how to drop domestic violence charges in California. Victims frequently change their minds after time has passed and want charges dismissed. The reality is injured spouses and partners don’t have the authority to drop criminal charges.
Criminal charges are brought by the state (not victims) and District Attorneys have sole discretion over whether charges are filed or dismissed. They base their decision on the totality of evidence: police reports, 911 call transcript, type of injuries, witness testimony and the prior record of those involved.
Victims can refuse to testify
In California, victims have the right to refuse to testify (1387 pc) in domestic violence cases. Although the prosecutor can continue prosecuting even if the victim refuses to testify. They will need to decide whether to move forward with prosecution based on the strength of other evidence in the case.
The District Attorney may decide to drop the case if conviction seems unlikely without the victim’s testimony. Often this lack of testimony leaves the DA with a circumstantial case that can’t meet the beyond a reasonable doubt standard. Defense merely has to show reasonable alternative explanations that do not involve the accused committing a crime.
What are the legal defenses?
There are many types of legal defenses to criminal charges. The three most common defenses our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney utilizes for domestic battery and domestic violence corporal injury charges are:
1) Defendant was falsely accused
Law enforcement has to take domestic violence allegations very seriously, even though experienced investigators know false accusations and exaggerated claims are common. Strained relationships, stress, substance abuse and/or hidden agendas often motivate false claims or a desire for revenge or to cause pain and embarrassment.
The credibility of witnesses and any physical evidence available can be key in a he said, she said situation. Our domestic battery attorney can work to point out the truth and highlight any hidden agenda by:
Looking for discrepancies and conflicts in the witness statements, 911 transcript and police reports.
Interviewing the couple’s circle of friends and family.
Doing background checks on key witnesses and the accuser.
Reviewing text messages, emails and social media accounts.
The specialized domestic violence prosecution teams that handle these cases know false accusations are common. If your attorney shows them evidence that accusations are false or the accuser lacks credibility, prosecutors often dismiss or reduce the charges.
2) Defendant acted in self defense or defense of others
California law allows for acting in self defense or the defense of others. California criminal jury instructions, No. 505 state defendants can lawfully defend themselves if:
They reasonably believed they were in imminent danger of being harmed;
They reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger; and
They used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that danger.
3) The injury was accidental
To be found guilty of Penal Code 273.5 pc, prosecutors must prove that the defendant willfully injured injured the victim. This must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
If the injury was accidental, even during an angry argument, you are not guilty.
Most cases are resolved without a trial
Our Los Angeles domestic violence lawyers usually obtain the best outcome without going to trial. Trials can publicly expose sensitive personal issues for the public record and be more costly than a skillfully negotiated dismissal or favorable plea deal.
But when a District Attorney is being unreasonable, there are instances where fighting the case in a trial can be in the best interest of the defendant.
Domestic violence statistics
Legislatures across the United States have had success in steadily reducing rates of domestic violence by enacting tougher and tougher laws and penalties. But domestic violence incidents are still a large scale issue in the U.S.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around 10 million women and men in the U.S. are physically abused by an intimate partner every year.
Some other statistics:
35% of women and 28% of men in the U.S. have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Source: CDC. (1)
Intimate partner violence with spouses and boyfriends/girlfriends accounts for 15% of all violent victimization crimes. Source: U.S. Dept. of Justice (DOJ). (2)
85% of domestic violence victims are female and 15% male. Source: DOJ (3).
34% of all women murdered were killed by their male intimate partner in the U.S. between 2003 and 2012. Whereas 2.5% of all men murdered were killed by their female intimate partner. Source: Center for American Progress. (4)
Access to guns is a key factor in domestic violence homicide. According to the FBI, of all California intimate partner murders from 2003 to 2012, 49% were killed with guns and 83% were women. Source: Center for American Progress. (5)
Men exposed to domestic violence as children are 3-4 times more likely to commit domestic violence as adults. Source: CDC. (6)
California domestic violence laws and penal codes
CORPORAL INJURY TO SPOUSE OR COHABITANT | Penal Code 273.5 pc
California Penal Code 273.5 pc defines the crime of willfully inflicting physical injury on a spouse, fellow parent or cohabitant. This offense is often referred to as domestic violence, domestic abuse or corporal injury to a spouse.
The statute states:
273.5(a) pc: Any person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim described in subdivision (b) is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to six thousand dollars ($6,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.
In order to convict a defendant of 273.5 pc, the prosecutor must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:
The defendant willfully (not accidentally) inflicted a physical injury on his or her current or former spouse, child's parent, or cohabitant.
The injury resulted in a “traumatic condition.”
The defendant was not acting in self-defense.
“Traumatic condition” is defined as a wound or other bodily injury caused by the direct use of physical force. It can be serious or even a minor injury.
“Cohabitant” is defined as a relationship of two people living together for a substantial period of time (more than just roommates). A person can cohabit with more than one person at the same time.
273.5 pc is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as either a domestic violence felony or misdemeanor, depending upon the severity of injuries and other facts. Whether the charge is pleaded or sentenced as a felony or misdemeanor charge will depend significantly on the expertise and experience of your Orange County criminal defense lawyer.
DOMESTIC BATTERY | 243(e)(1) pc
California Penal Code 243(e)(1) pc defines the crime of willfully touching a victim in a harmful or offensive way. This offense is referred to as “Domestic Battery” – the most commonly charged domestic violence charge.
The statute states:
243(e)(1) pc: When a battery is committed against a spouse, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, a person who is the parent of the defendant’s child, former spouse, fiancé, or fiancée, or a person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, the battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
No injury is required to convict a defendant of 243 pc. The prosecutor must only prove the following elements:
The defendant willfully (not accidentally) touched the victim in an offensive or harmful way.
The victim is the defendant’s cohabitant, spouse, fiancé, former spouse, co-parent or a person whom the defendant has dated.
243 pc is a misdemeanor offense. Police most frequently arrest for 243(e)(1) pc when they’ve been called out on a domestic disturbance and there is no mark or injury on the alleged victim. Typically there was no crime committed, just a push or accidental touching during an argument.
The District Attorney’s office almost always files this charge when a victim has allegedly been pushed or shoved. With such a low threshold for bringing the charge, it is ripe for prosecutorial abuse by a system focused on protecting domestic victims at all cost.
California Penal Code 646.9 pc defines the crime of stalking or harassing another person. Stalking is a “wobbler” offense where prosecutors can decide whether to charge it as a misdemeanor or felony based on the defendant’s criminal history and the severity of the stalking behavior.
The statute states:
646.9(a) pc: Any person who willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly follows or willfully and maliciously harasses another person and who makes a credible threat with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for his or her safety, or the safety of his or her immediate family is guilty of the crime of stalking, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment, or by imprisonment in the state prison.
In order to convict a defendant of 646.9 pc, the District Attorney must prove the following:
The defendant willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed or willfully and maliciously harassed another person, and
The defendant made a “credible threat” with the intent to place that person in reasonable fear for their safety, or the safety of their immediate family.
“Harassing” is defined as willful and knowing conduct that seriously torments, alarms, annoys or terrorizes the recipient and serves no legitimate purpose.
A “credible threat” is one that causes the recipient to reasonably fear for their safety, or for the safety of their immediate family, and one that the maker of the threat seems able to carry out. The threat can be made verbally, electronically or in writing or can be implied by the harasser’s pattern of conduct or the combination of their statements and conduct. A pattern of conduct is 2 or more acts taken over a period of time showing a continuing purpose.
VIOLATING A DOMESTIC RELATIONS PROTECTIVE ORDER | 273.6(a) pc
California Penal Code 273.6(a) pc defines the crime of willfully violating a lawfully issued court restraining order, protective order or stay away order.
In order for a prosecutor to convict a defendant of 273.6 pc, they must prove:
A court lawfully issued a written protective order stating that the defendant must stay away from a particular person or refrain from certain acts.
The defendant had the ability to follow the court order
The defendant was served and aware of the court order, and
The defendant willfully violated the court’s order
If the defendant has not been convicted of this same offense, 273.6 pc will be charged as a misdemeanor with up to 1 year in jail. If there has been a previous conviction, it can be charged as a felony subject to 16 months, 2 or 3 years in prison.
CRIMINAL THREATS | 422 pc
California Penal Code 422 pc defines the offense of making criminal threats of violence or harm. In order to prove guilt, prosecutors must prove:
The defendant willfully threatened to commit a crime that will result in the death or great bodily injury of another person.
The defendant made the threat verbally, in writing or via electronic communication devices.
The defendant intended the statement to be to be taken as a threat, even if there was no intent to carry it out.
The threat was so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the person threatened, a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution of the threat.
The threat reasonably caused the recipient to be in sustained fear for their own safety or for their immediate family’s safety.
Making criminal threats is a “wobbler” crime prosecutors can charge as either a felony or misdemeanor based on criminal history and the facts of the offense.
A felony conviction could be sentenced to up to 3 years in prison. Another year can be added if the defendant used a deadly or dangerous weapon when making the threat. 422 pc counts as a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law.
INTIMIDATING A WITNESS FROM REPORTING A CRIME | 136.1 pc
California Penal Code 136.1 pc defines the crime of dissuading or intimidating a witness or victim from reporting and/or testifying about a crime.
In order for prosecutors to convict of 136.1 pc, they must prove that a person knowingly and maliciously prevented or dissuaded, or attempted to prevent or dissuade a victim or witness from doing at least one of the following:
Appearing at or testifying during any legal proceeding.
Reporting a crime to law enforcement.
Assisting in the prosecution of a crime.
Assisting in the arrest process.
For a person to qualify as a victim, they must have reason to believe that a federal or state crime has been committed or was attempted against them.
136.1 pc is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor depending on defendant’s criminal history and the facts in the case.
If convicted as a misdemeanor, intimidating a victim can carry up to one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine plus penalties and assessments. There will also be a 10 year ban on the defendant's right to own or purchase a gun.
If charged as a felony, the defendant may face four years in prison, large fines and a lifetime ban from owning or purchasing guns.
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