Domestic Violence

Vigorous defense, working to protect you.

Orange County Domestic Violence Lawyer

Are you facing a domestic violence charge? If so, call an Orange County domestic violence attorney from Chudnovsky Law for a free consultation. Our award-winning team of lawyers has over 75 years of experience handling thousands of domestic violence and criminal cases. We are ready to defend you vigorously.

Even though false accusations are common, police are now required to arrest someone if they think domestic violence or domestic battery has occurred. The most common DV charges 273.5(a) pc, and 243(e)(1) pc don’t even require any visible injury. All it takes is someone calling the police. A simple argument can easily get blown out of proportion ending with you arrested and jailed.

A conviction for a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence crime can have a severe effect on your life. In addition to facing jail time, probation, and financial penalties, you can also lose your job, professional license, immigration status, and even your right to see your children.


Experienced Domestic Violence Lawyers

If you are accused of domestic violence, it is crucial to have an experienced Orange County domestic violence lawyer working to defend you as early as possible. An expert Orange County criminal defense lawyer can make the difference between getting your case dismissed or having your record ruined with a wrongful conviction and jail time.

If you are looking for expert defense and compassionate lawyers committed to fighting for you, call (949) 750-2500 for a Free consultation. We can help you immediately.

We offer affordable fees and flexible payment plans.

What are the penalties for domestic violence conviction in Orange County?

Domestic violence can cover a broad range of types of abuse, from physical and psychological/emotional to sexual and verbal abuse—as well as deprivation, harassment, threats and intimidation, among others.

In general, domestic violence includees acts committed in an attempt to “exercise power and authority over another person.” California Penal Code, Section 13700 further defines it as “abuse committed against an adult or fully emancipated minor who is a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, or person with whom the suspect has had a child or is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship.”

Under California Penal Code 273.5—the most common charge—corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant (meaning that an injury was inflicted by force, resulting in a “traumatic condition”)—is a so-called “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 include:

  • 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)
  • Misdemeanor probation
  • 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-U.S. citizens.

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What is a domestic relations protective order?

Orange County Courts offer protective orders to people who have been or have reason to believe that they could be the victim of abusive behavior on the part of a partner, spouse, or similar person. Specifically:

  1. A restraining order (also called a “protective order”) is a court order that can protect someone from being physically or sexually abused, threatened, stalked, or harassed. The person getting the restraining order is called the “protected person.” The person the restraining order is against is the “restrained person.” Sometimes, restraining orders include other “protected persons” like family or household members of the protected person.

A person may request a domestic violence restraining order in cases of abuse by someone with whom the person claiming abuse has “a close relationship (i.e., married or registered domestic partners, divorced, separated, dating or used to date, have a child together, or live together or used to live together—but more than roommates), or to whom they are closely related (parent, child, brother, sister, grandmother, grandfather, in-law).

In many cases, an order of protection is imposed by a judge in cases of actual or domestic violence or credible evidence that domestic violence may occur; i.e., there have been threats.

They are normally issued to ensure that an alleged victim is protected from being harassed, abused, stalked, or threatened by a defendant.

Under California Penal Code 273.6, it is a crime for someone to violate the terms of a court-ordered protective order, restraining order, or stay-away order.

Punishment for violation includes:

  1. Any intentional and knowing violation of a protective order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.

Can the victim of domestic violence drop the charges in Orange County?

The short answer to that is “no.”

While those who have leveled accusations of domestic violence may (and often do) change their minds after time has passed and want charges dismissed, they cannot legally do so.

Once the police are called, once an arrest is made, and once charges are made, it is out of the victim’s hands.


In large part, it is because the State (that is, the government) brings charges—not the victim. This means that the District Attorneys have sole discretion whether charges are filed or dismissed.

While it may seem odd, the fact is that in the American judicial system, criminal cases “are seen as disputes between the government and individuals accused of crime.”

As such, the prosecution (District Attorney) bases decisions on the totality of evidence: police reports, 911 call transcripts, the type and degree of any injuries, prior record of those involved, and witness testimony.

The testimony of the victim is often a pivotal factor in not just the outcome of a case, but whether the case would even meet the “reasonable doubt” standard.

In fact, the victim has the right to refuse to testify.

While the prosecution can continue trying an accused person even without the testimony of the victim, it makes their job much more difficult as they bear the burden of proof.

As your Orange County domestic violence defense attorney, we only need to prove a reasonable alternative explanation that does not involve the accused committing a crime.

“Attorney Nicole Enyart recently handled a complex case for me. She and her office did an excellent job. We were hoping for a plea reduction to dry reckless on a Santa Barbara DUI charge. Ms Enyart got the charges dismissed entirely with no fines. I can highly recommend her and her firm to anyone looking for an excellent criminal defense attorney.”



What are the best defenses against domestic violence charges in Orange County?

First and foremost, it is “one of the most sacred principles in the American criminal justice system, holding that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty.

In other words, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, each essential element of the crime charged.”

That being said, it is the job of your skilled and aggressive criminal defense lawyer to find holes in the prosecution’s case.

The most common defenses in Orange County domestic violence charges include:

  1. The defendant was falsely accused: Law enforcement takes domestic violence allegations 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. Witness credibility and available physical evidence is key when there are conflicting statements. We are experienced in finding the truth and highlight hidden agendas by:
    1. Looking for discrepancies in witness statements, 911 transcripts and police reports
    2. Interviewing the couple’s family and friends
    3. Doing background checks on the accuser and any key witnesses
    4. Reviewing text messages, emails, and social media accounts

When we uncover evidence of false accusations or lack of accuser accountability, prosecutors often reduce charges or dismiss them altogether.

  1. The defendant acted in self-defense or in the defense of others: Under California criminal jury instructions, it is stated that defendants can lawfully defend themselves if:
    • The defendant reasonably believed that he or she was in “imminent danger of suffering bodily injury:”
    • The defendant reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger; and
    • The defendant used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend against that danger.
  2. The injury was accidental: In order to prove guilt, the prosecution must, beyond a reasonable doubt, show that a defendant willfully injured a victim. Even if an accidental injury occurred in the heat of an argument, if it wasn’t intentional (willful), then there is no proof beyond any reasonable doubt and the defendant is not guilty.
  3. The defendant is innocent: Show that the accused did not commit the crime using an alibi, scientific evidence, or some type of technological evidence.

The Orange County domestic violence lawyers at Chudnovsky Law 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.

If the District Attorney is being unreasonable, it may be in the best interest of the defendant to take the case to trial.

How can I get domestic violence charges dropped in Orange County?

In truth, it is not easy to get the Orange County District Attorney’s office to drop a domestic violence charge.

In many cases, it’s because the prosecutor’s office has a “no-drop” policy when it comes to these types of crimes.

To a large extent, the prosecution is concerned that a victim may change their story; particularly if they are fearful of retribution by the accused.

According to a scholarly article, the no-drop policy was pioneered in, among other jurisdictions, San Diego “in the late 1980s in response to the high dismissal rate of domestic violence cases.

Until then, it had been the practice of most prosecutors and judges to dismiss domestic cases in which the victim was unwilling to come to court or to testify against the defendant.

Because many victims failed to cooperate for a variety of reasons, domestic violence cases had dismissal rates many times higher than other crimes.”

However, with the help of a defense attorney with vast experience in Orange County domestic violence cases, there are several strategies that can be employed:

  • Try to gain the trust and support of the prosecutor: You may think this is next to impossible, but there may be ways to prove that dismissing the case is in everybody’s best interest; including those of the State.
  • Get a copy of the police report: Much of what the prosecution will base their case on may well be in the police report. Knowing what is in the report is critical to mounting a strong defense—up to and including having charges dismissed.
  • Look for factual errors: A knowledgeable attorney may be able to find issues in the police report that point to a charge based on false allegations. Your lawyer also takes into account any facts that you may be able to provide that were not in the report. Give a true description of your side of the story.

Remember, only the prosecution can choose whether to drop a charge or not.

By finding holes in the prosecution’s case, looking for conflicting statements, and seeking evidence of potential false accusation on the part of an alleged victim, your attorney is often able to have charges dropped or reduced.

Orange County


23 Corporate Plaza Dr,

Suite 150, Newport

Beach, CA 92660
(213) 212-5002

How to choose the best Orange County domestic violence attorney

A domestic violence conviction, even a misdemeanor, has a profound effect on one’s liberty, freedom, relationships, livelihood, and reputation.

If you have been arrested for a domestic violence crime, find an attorney who has:

  • Experience in domestic violence defense: Because this is a hot-button type of crime, and because prosecutors are less likely to drop charges in these cases than most other types of crimes, experience is essential in getting you the best possible outcome.
  • Knowledge of the local courts, judges, and prosecutors: As former prosecutors, our attorneys have a greater understanding of both sides of the court and can often anticipate how the District Attorney is likely to approach your case.
  • Trial-tested: While we often try to resolve a case before it goes to trial, we are not afraid to fight for your rights when it is in your best interest to do so.

Experience You Can Trust

Often it is not the facts of the case that result in a great outcome, but understanding the system, having relationships and a building a skillful presentation of your case to the judge or prosecutor.

Our attorneys not only know the system, they are at home in it.

To learn more about how we can help, please call our office at (949) 750-2500 or contact us online to discuss your needs.


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