What to do if I am Arrested for Domestic Violence?
If you’re asking, “What to do if I am arrested for domestic violence?” then time is of the essence. The most direct answer to that question is this: “Immediately call a Bay Area domestic violence attorney.” Let’s examine why that is the conclusion you should draw.
The Breadth of Alleged Victims
California law says that an alleged victim of domestic violence can occupy one of several different roles in your life – all under the umbrella term of “intimate partner.” Your accuser can be your spouse or you ex-spouse. They can be your fiancé/fiancée or your former betrothed. They can be your registered domestic partner or your former registered domestic partner. They can be your child’s other parent, regardless of the status of your relationship. They can be the person you’re living with in a romantic relationship. They can even be someone you’re dating or someone you’ve previously dated.
Let’s say that Joey is arrested for domestic violence. Joey’s accuser could be his wife, Kimberly, his ex-wife, April, or Theresa, the woman with whom he’s having an extramarital affair.
Many Domestic Violence Laws in California
An arrest for domestic violence in Alameda County can result in being charged with violating one or more of a dozen different California laws. A conviction can have serious consequences. Domestic violence charges and consequences include:
Corporal Injury: Under California law, felony domestic violence charges can be brought when the alleged victim has a physical injury. So, if Joey injures Kimberly, he can face felony charges. Kimberly’s injury can be mild or severe. Even if Joey only grabs Kimberly by her throat momentarily and hinders her breathing, he can be charged with felony domestic violence in Alameda County. A corporal injury conviction can lead to a sentence of up to a year in county jail or two, three, or four years in state prison, as well as a fine of up to $6,000. If Joey has a previous domestic violence conviction and receives probation, he may face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 15 days. If he has two or more prior convictions within the previous seven years, he faces a mandatory minimum of 60 days in Alameda County jail – even if he receives probation. In addition to jail or prison time, a corporal injury conviction with prior domestic violence convictions can carry a fine of up to $10,000 and a requirement to donate up to $5,000 to a battered women’s shelter. He’s also required to pay for Kimberly’s medical treatment and counseling.
Domestic Battery: Unlike domestic violence charges for corporal injury, a domestic battery charge in the Bay Area can be lodged even though no injury was sustained. Let’s say that Joey grabs Kimberly by the elbow, pulls her hair, or hurls her cell phone at her and misses. Joey can be arrested on misdemeanor domestic battery charges. If convicted, Joey faces up to a year in county jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. If he is granted probation or his sentence is suspended, he’s required to complete a batterer’s treatment program. If he has a previous conviction, he may face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 48 hours. One of the conditions of his probation may be to donate up to $5,000 to a battered women’s shelter. He is also responsible for reimbursing Kimberly for counseling or other expenses related to domestic battery.
Criminal Threats: If Joey and Kimberly fight, and Joey threatens to hurt or kill Kimberly, when he’s arrested for domestic violence he may be charged with criminal threats. This charge is a wobbler, meaning that Joey can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. If he’s convicted of a misdemeanor, Joey can be sentenced to up to one year in county jail. If he’s convicted of felony criminal threats, Joey can be sentenced to two, three, or four years in state prison.
Stalking: Let’s say that Theresa, with whom Joey is having an extramarital affair, breaks it off with him. Joey isn’t ready to let Theresa go and shows up unexpectedly at her work or home, or calls her repeatedly. If Theresa fears for her safety, Joey can be arrested in Alameda County and charged with stalking. If he’s convicted, he faces up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. If Theresa has a temporary restraining order against Joey, then a conviction means a state prison sentence of two, three, or four years. If Joey has a prior conviction for corporal injury or criminal threats, then a stalking charge is a wobbler. A misdemeanor conviction can result in a jail sentence of up to one year or a prison sentence of two, three, or five years.
Damaging Phone Equipment: If Joey throws Kimberly’s phone or smashes it in order to prevent her from calling 911 for help, then Joey faces charges of damaging phone equipment. If convicted of this misdemeanor charge, Joey faces a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000.
Revenge Porn: If Joey feels so betrayed by Theresa breaking off their relationship that he posts sexual or nude photos of Theresa online, Joey may be charged with revenge porn, a misdemeanor. If he is convicted, Joey faces spending up to a year in county jail and paying a fine of up to $1,000.
Online Revenge: Let’s say Joey doesn’t post revenge porn, but instead posts Theresa’s home address or phone number online with the thought that other people will harass her. Joey could face a misdemeanor charge that carries a jail term of up to one year and a fine of up to $1,000.
What to do if I am Arrested for Domestic Violence?
If you’re arrested for domestic violence in Alameda County, your first call should be to a Bay Area domestic violence attorney. Your Alameda County domestic violence lawyer understands the criminal justice system and can achieve the best possible outcome for your case. Your best possible outcome depends upon a number of factors, including the evidence against you and your history of prior convictions.
When considering whether or not to engage the services of a Bay Area domestic violence lawyer, it’s important to consider what’s at stake. First and foremost, your freedom is on the line. A misdemeanor conviction can lead to jail time, a felony conviction can lead to prison time, and prior convictions can increase the threat to your freedom.
Beyond spending time behind bars, there are a number of other ways your life can be impacted when you have a domestic violence conviction on your record. There’s a significant financial hit in being forced to pay the medical and counseling expenses of your accuser, court fines, and court-mandated donations to battered women’s shelters. There’s also the expense of participating in a court-ordered domestic violence program. On top of that, you may also lose visitation rights or custody of your children, and lose your right to own or carry a gun. Finally, you may be subjected to a protective order preventing you from entering your home or interacting with your partner. It’s important to note that these conditions can exist even if you avoid jail or prison time and instead receive probation.
How an Alameda County Domestic Violence Attorney Can Help
It’s clear that domestic violence charges can have life-altering consequences. That’s why, as soon as you’re arrested, you need to find an experienced Alameda County domestic violence attorney to represent you. Imagine jumping through the hoops of the legal system without a Bay Area domestic violence lawyer at your side. Here are some examples of how your attorney can help:
Arraignment: Your arraignment is an initial court proceeding during which you are told the charges against you and your rights, and asked how you plead to those charges. Your Alameda County domestic violence attorney likely advises you to plead “not guilty,” and asks the judge to release you on your own recognizance.
Review of Evidence: Your Bay Area domestic violence attorney has access to the police report and any evidence gathered at the time of your arrest. By carefully reviewing the evidence, your lawyer is able to find holes in the prosecution’s case and make an argument that the charges should be dismissed.
Plea Bargain: If it isn’t possible to have the case dismissed and it appears that the prosecution has a strong case, your Alameda County domestic violence attorney may be able to reach a plea agreement to a lesser charge. For example, instead of a domestic battery charge, the prosecution may agree to accept a guilty plea of criminal trespass or disturbing the peace. Keep in mind that, by avoiding the domestic violence conviction landmine, you can also avoid the domestic violence-specific consequences. For example, you do not have to relinquish your gun rights and you don’t face the certain loss of custody for your children.
Pre-Trial Diversion: Depending upon your criminal history and prior domestic violence convictions, your Alameda County domestic violence attorney may be able to convince the prosecution and judge to agree to a deferred entry of judgment. In practice, this means that you are required to attend an educational program related to domestic violence. Upon completion of the program, the charges are dropped and the slate wiped clean.
Defending You Against Charges: When you are charged with a domestic violence crime, your Bay Area domestic violence attorney can assert one of several legal defenses. For example, they can argue that you are being falsely accused. In the example used above, Joey’s attorney might argue that Kimberly discovered Joey’s affair with Theresa and accused him because she was jealous or angry. Perhaps Kimberly is planning to seek a divorce, and wants a domestic violence conviction on Joey’s record because she believes she’ll get a better child custody arrangement.
Joey’s attorney could assert that Kimberly’s arm was bruised by accident. The lawyer could say that Joey tripped and grabbed Kimberly in an attempt to keep from falling. They could argue that Kimberly is, in fact, the abuser and that Joey is the victim. They could assert that Joey was simply acting in self-defense.
If you’re accused of domestic violence, don’t make the misguided assumption that you can handle it on your own. There is simply too much at stake. With the help of an experience Bay Area domestic violence attorney, you have the resources you need to mount the defense you deserve.
Silver Law Firm has the skill and knowledge to navigate the legal proceedings that surround domestic violence charges. When you ask, “What to do if I am arrested for domestic violence?” there’s only one correct answer: Call Silver Law Firm immediately to avoid incriminating yourself and to ensure that you’re represented by the Bay Area’s finest domestic violence attorneys.