Domestic Violence in San Diego
Arrests for Domestic Violence incidents are extremely common in San Diego County. Domestic Violence includes a number of crimes. Some of the more common crimes include:
- Corporal Injury to a Spouse / Cohabitant;
- Domestic Battery;
- Child Abuse;
- Child Endangerment;
- Child Neglect; and
- Elder Abuse.
People often overlook that Domestic Violence affects more than just the individual being abused. Those who are around, or even just aware of, the abuse can also be harmed. Consider a father who beats his wife. Not only is the abused wife affected, but in many cases, so are any children who might have witnessed the abuse. Even though the children were not physically harmed, additional charges, such as child endangerment, are often applicable.
As such, Domestic Violence incidents are taken very seriously in California, and can lead to severe penalties. If you have been accused of Domestic Violence, it’s crucial that you consult with an attorney right away. Our lawyers, at the San Diego Criminal Attorney, routinely represent San Diego defendants in Domestic Violence cases of all kinds. We have the experience, and resources, to properly defend your rights. Our law firm is proud to offer a FREE, in person, no-obligation, consultation to anyone who has questions or concerns regarding their Domestic Violence incident. During your consultation, you will be able to confidentially discuss your matter with one of our experienced attorneys.
Contact us today at 619-880-5474 to schedule your FREE consultation. Meet Our Law Firm
Mitigating Factors that Assist in a Domestic Violence Case
At the San Diego Criminal Attorney, we understand that you are defined by more than just the allegations against you. As your attorneys, part of our job is to convey this to the prosecution during plea negotiations, and/or to the judge at sentencing. In most cases, virtually all that the prosecution will know about you comes from police reports, and your prior record. For this reason, assembling, and then filing a “mitigation packet” with the city/district attorney’s office can drastically increase your chances of having the charges against you reduced, or dismissed. Typically, the following will be included in a mitigation packet:
- Your Resume;
- Any Academic Degrees, Awards, Certificates, and/or proof of current enrollment;
- Any proof of employment and/or employment achievements;
- Letters of support from close friends and family;
- Any evidence of volunteer work and/or community service;
- Any evidence of successful completion of any rehabilitative programs; and/or
- Any mental or physical health records that might be relevant.
Compiling the documents during the early stages of your case can really help you get ahead, and will give your attorneys an extremely valuable bargaining chip during negotiations. At the San Diego Criminal Attorney, we deal with the City, and District Attorney’s Offices on a daily basis. We have the experience you need, to get your charges reduced or dismissed.
Domestic Violence and Your Family
Usually, in a Domestic Violence case, your family will be the most knowledgeable parties with respect to the alleged incidents. As such, the prosecution will likely contact members of your family, in hopes of using their statements against you. In many cases, family members are even issued subpoenas, and ordered to provide information. If this happens, its extremely important to seek the advice of an attorney, who can help you in selecting the best course of action.
California Penal Code 273.5 – Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant
One of the most common Domestic Violence charges is for Corporal Injury to a Spouse under PC 273.5. Typically, this crime will occur when one partner physically takes control of the other by force. However, threats and/or intimidation can suffice in some cases.
As noted above, Domestic Violence is a very serious allegation under California law. As with any crime, the prosecution bears the burden of proving each element beyond a reasonable doubt. There are essentially two (2) elements to prove in a PC 273.5 case. The first deals with the relationship between the defendant and the victim, and the second deals with the harm suffered. The prosecution must prove the following:
- That you unlawfully and willfully injured:
- Your current spouse;
- Your former spouse;
- Your current cohabitant;
- Your former cohabitant; or
- The mother/father of your child; and
- A traumatic condition resulted from the injury.
You’re probably wondering what constitutes a traumatic condition? Unfortunately, the law is vague, and any injury could arguably result in a traumatic condition. This can range from serious bodily injury, down to an offensive touching. A number of factors are considered when evaluating whether traumatic conditions are present. For example, witness statements, 911 calls, police reports, and photographs. These factors will often be determinative in what charges the District Attorney will choose to bring.
If found guilty of PC 273.5, a prison sentence of up to four (4) years and/or a fine of up to $6,000 can be imposed. This will be discussed in further detail below.
Domestic Violence – Misdemeanor or Felony
Like many crimes, Corporal Injury to a Spouse, can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Essentially, based on the facts of the case, the prosecutor will have discretion to file the case as either. The decision will ultimately come down to the evidence, and severity, of the resulting injury, as well as your prior criminal history.
Evidence in a Domestic Violence Case
It is very common in DV cases, that the victim ultimately decides to recant their original statement. This is often due to the close relationship between the victim and defendant. As such, the prosecution has to rely very heavily on photographs, the emergency 911 call, and on the defendant’s prior criminal record.
There are strict evidentiary rules regarding the use of prior convictions and prior bad acts. However, they are often admissible in DV cases. Essentially, if you were convicted of a violent crime within 10 years of your current charge, it can be used against you. Further even evidence of prior police calls that did not ultimately result in criminal charges will likely find their way into court.
Therefore, you will want an experienced defense attorney on your side. At trial, your attorney will know when certain evidence should not be admitted. Our Chief Trial Attorney, Vincent Ross, has over 29 years of experience in criminal defense, and has overseen thousands of cases. If you have been accused of Domestic Violence in San Diego, make sure to protect your rights by consulting with one of our attorneys.
What to Expect During Your Domestic Violence Case
During your first court appearance, the judge will set bail, and you will be given the opportunity to plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest to the charges against you. Typically, the issue of protective orders will also be discussed. It is likely that you will be issued either a full protective order, or a “no negative contact order”.
If you are issued a full protective order, you will have to remain a certain distance from your spouse, or the victim. If you violate the order, you will face additional charges. A no negative contact order is slightly less severe. With a no negative contact order, you will still be able to come in contact with the victim during the trial. It’s important to note that either type of order can be modified at any stage of the case.
As noted above, in any criminal case, it’s important to stay ahead of the curve by portraying yourself in a positive light early in the case. Therefore, we often recommend that our clients begin attending anger management, and/or other relevant classes to help reduce the potential penalties. Further, your mitigation packet will help in proving that you are a productive member of society. It’s often little things like these, that can mean the difference between a full protective order and a no negative contact order.
Domestic Violence Cases in Relation to Divorce Proceedings
Domestic Violence cases are commonly intertwined with divorce proceedings. As you may already be aware, the burden of proof in a criminal case (beyond a reasonable doubt), is much higher than in a family law case. As such, if an order is issued against you in your criminal case, it is likely that the family law court would adhere to the same order.
It is very common that domestic violence accusations are false. Often times, allegations are made simply to gain an advantage in a child custody, or spousal support dispute.
If you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, do not take the situation lightly. The penalties you could be facing are very severe. Contact one of our experienced attorneys at the San Diego Criminal Defense Law Firms right away.
Penalties in a Domestic Violence Case – PC 273.5
As mentioned above, Corporal Punishment to a Spouse can be brought as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The range of penalties varies depending on which charge is brought.
Misdemeanor DV – Penalties
If convicted of misdemeanor Domestic Violence under PC 273.5, you can expect to face penalties along the following lines:
- A maximum of one (1) year in county jail;
- At least three (3) years of informal probation;
- A maximum fine of $6,000;
- Reimbursement to the victim for reasonable medical expenses resulting from the incident;
- Contribution to a battered women’s shelter of up to $5,000;
- A protective order or restraining order preventing you from contacting the victim; and/or
- Mandatory completion of counseling classes for up to one (1) year.
Felony DV – Penalties
For a felony conviction under PC 273.5, the penalties are even more severe:
- A maximum of four (4) years in a State Penitentiary;
- If great bodily harm is involved, you could face an additional prison sentence of up to five (5) years;
- Formal probation;
- A protective order or restraining order preventing you from contacting the victim;
- A possible strike on your record for purposes of California’s Three Strikes Law; and/or
- A maximum fine of $6,000;
California Penal Code 273.5 – Defenses
As you can see, the penalties listed above are extremely severe. As such, it is important to contact an attorney who understands the best defenses to raise in your specific case. Some common defenses include:
In order for self defense to be applicable, the following must be true:
- You reasonably believed you were in immediate harm or danger;
- You reasonably believed that the use of force was required to defend yourself against the imminent harm or danger; and
- The force you used was reasonable in comparison to the harm or danger you faced.
Defense of Another
This defense is extremely similar to self defense. The only difference being that the defendant is defending a third person from imminent danger, rather than themselves. Their belief that imminent danger is present, and the force they use, must still be reasonable under the circumstances.
Lack of Intent
To be guilty of PC 273.5, you must have acted willfully when you injured the victim. As such, an injury that results from an accident, or from other negligent behavior, is not sufficient to result in a conviction.
As noted above, false accusations are extremely common in domestic violence cases. Many times, one spouse will be motivated to bring a false claim because of a divorce or custody proceeding.
Contact the San Diego Criminal Attorney for Your Free Domestic Violence Consultation
If you have recently been accused of Domestic Violence in San Diego we strongly encourage you to contact our office as soon as possible. During your FREE consultation you will be able to meet face-to-face with one of our experienced attorneys. We will be go over all of your questions, and address all of your concerns. Our law firm does not believe in diagnosing your case over the phone, and we take pride in our ability to meet personally with every potential client. At the San Diego Criminal Attorney, we will treat you, and your case, with the attention it deserves.
Call us today at 619-880-5474 to schedule your FREE consultation.