Domestic violence, also referred to as domestic abuse, comes in many forms and may leave those accused facing criminal charges. Depending on how serious the incident was and other factors, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense. Misdemeanor charges are generally less serious than felony charges and result in penalties/punishment that is less harsh than with a felony conviction.
It is a crime under California’s domestic violence laws to harm, or threaten to harm a spouse, fellow parent, cohabitant, intimate partner, or even someone you are dating/have dated. Unfortunately, many people who are completely innocent are accused of domestic abuse every day. Even worse, if you are found guilty or “convicted” of domestic violence it can impact your reputation, family relationships, even your freedom. A criminal record is something you don’t want hanging over your head.
If you are convicted on domestic violence charges, other consequences may include payment of restitution to the victim, fines, loss of child custody rights, mandatory participation in domestic violence classes, jail time, and immigration consequences if you are not a citizen of the U.S.
What are some of the most common defenses used in domestic violence cases? Some include:
The alleged victim falsely accused you
Your (the defendant’s) actions are not what caused the injuries
It was an accident
You (the defendant) were acting in defense of yourself or another person
Domestic violence is defined under California Penal Code 13700 as abuse committed against an intimate partner. An individual commits “abuse” when he or she intentionally or recklessly uses physical force against an intimate partner, or even threatens to use force. Even if an injury is as minor as a small scratch, responding officers must make an arrest. It is easy for a minor disagreement to escalate into a full-blown argument and in the end, it is often a case of “he said, she said.” The alleged victim may have been the one to first make threats of harm, but you may be the one facing charges in the end. You can easily see how the wrong person could be accused of domestic abuse.
There are a lot of “what ifs” and “buts” when it comes to domestic violence and depending on the circumstances, the criminal charges could be extremely serious – especially if you have a prior criminal record or conviction. The best thing you can do to protect your legal rights and freedom is to work with an experienced Los Angeles domestic violence defense attorney. Depending on the facts of your case it may be possible to have charges dismissed, or felony charges reduced to a less serious misdemeanor offense. It’s easy to find yourself the “fall guy” or gal – don’t let false allegations ruin your future.