Domestic Violence FAQ

Many people are confused after they are arrested for domestic violence. Under California law, if the police suspect an individual may have injured an intimate partner or former partner, the police have to make an arrest. Even if the alleged victim suffered little to no physical harm, offensive touching may be enough to constitute a domestic battery. Unfortunately, this often results in the wrong person getting arrested for domestic violence.

In some cases, the victim is arrested instead of the aggressor. Other domestic violence calls come from an angry ex, or their family members who want to punish someone and wrongfully claim domestic violence. Some people even falsely claim domestic violence in order to try and get full custody of a child or children. Innocent people are arrested all the time for domestic violence. It is important to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney before deciding to plead guilty.

The penalties for domestic violence depend on the type of alleged conduct and injury, as well as the criminal history of the defendant. If charged as a felony, domestic violence may result in a maximum of 5 (five) years in state prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.00. If charged as a misdemeanor, domestic violence may result in up to 1 (one) year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000. Prior convictions for assault or domestic violence may increase these minimum penalties. In addition, a conviction for domestic violence may require counseling, community labor, completion of a batterer’s program, anger management program, protective orders against future contact, and/or substantial court fines and fees.

A protective order, sometimes called a restraining order, is a court order that requires an individual to avoid certain actions or take certain actions. In a domestic violence case, these most often involve restricting contact with the victim. This may include restricting physical contact, prevention from going to certain places or talking to certain people, and preventing someone from contacting another by phone, text, email, or social media.

Protective orders can be temporary or permanent. Violating a protective order can result in criminal charges, with up to three (3) years in county jail for felony restraining order violations. In addition, a defendant may be required to pay fines, counseling fees, and even give up their firearms.

The individual subject to a protective order can petition the court to modify the order. This generally requires a formal court appearance and sometimes requires filing paperwork with the court and serving those documents to the appropriate parties. At the hearing, the court will hear from any interested party, including the alleged victim, the prosecutor, defense, and sometimes neutral third parties in order to determine whether the protective order should be modified. In some cases, the court may allow the protective order to be terminated.

Many innocent people charged with domestic violence plead guilty because they think a jury will not believe them, or the prosecutor convinces them to take a plea deal rather than face the maximum penalty. However, before pleading guilty to a criminal charge that will affect you for the rest of your personal and professional life, including taking away your right to possess a firearm, you should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your legal defenses and how to fight your criminal charges.

For individuals with legal permanent residency, in the country legally on a visa, or unlawfully present, a domestic violence conviction may result in deportation. Domestic violence is considered a deportable offense. A conviction for domestic violence may lead to deportation or removal proceedings, even if the victim never wanted to press charges.

There may be many factors to consider before hiring a criminal defense attorney. Many people prefer having one lawyer who will handle the entire case themselves rather than pass the client off to whatever attorney is available that day. Contacting a lawyer with a free consultation will also allow you to talk to the attorney to get a sense of their commitment to you as a client before deciding to hire them. Talk to your attorney to make sure they have your best interests at heart and will fight for you.

A domestic violence conviction can impact you for the rest of your life. If you or a family member have been arrested for domestic violence, contact me for a free consultation. At DCD Law, I personally handle all of my cases and will be at your side the whole way, fighting for you.