San Diego Domestic Violence Attorney
Skilled Criminal Defense Firm Serving San Diego, CA
Domestic violence refers to violence that occurs between people who are living together, such as spouses or family members. Domestic violence most often involves female and child victims, but men can also be the victims of at the hands of a violent girlfriend or wife, especially when they believe they should never hit a woman and refuse to defend themselves against their female abuser.
JD Law has more than 30 years of experience and offers legal guidance from a top-notch criminal lawyer. Not only is our founding attorney a board-certified criminal law specialist, but he has also tried hundreds of cases. Let us utilize our background and experience to help defend you!
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What Is Considered Domestic Violence in California?
Under California law, the following may qualify as domestic violence:
James N. Dicks is a San Diego criminal lawyer who knows how to handle your domestic violence case. As a former police officer, he has experience with more than one side of domestic violence. This background has proven valuable in the numerous domestic violence cases he has defended. With his solid understanding of California's laws and regulations regarding domestic violence, attorney James N. Dicks is ready to help defend you in your case.
What Is the Process for a Domestic Violence Case?
Domestic violence charges are taken very seriously in San Diego, and they all follow the same process that involves four different stages: arrest, pre-file, arraignment and pretrial hearings, and trial.
When someone calls the San Diego Police Department to report a case of domestic violence, the law mandates that one person involved in that case must go to jail, even if just temporarily. The officer who arrives on the scene will decide who the dominant aggressor in the situation is and arrest him or her. This is sometimes called a welfare check. This is said to be in the interests of public safety, but it can really hurt an innocent person’s case.
During this stage, the prosecution will prepare a case against the accused while the accused puts together a mitigation request: asking for a reduced charge, or to have the charges dismissed. The sooner this mitigation package is assembled, the better chance the accused has of getting a dismissal in his or her case. An arraignment for the accused will also be scheduled during this phase.
Arraignment and Hearings
The next phase includes an arraignment (where the charges against the accused are formally read), pretrial hearings, and any time leading up to a trial. A defense lawyer will work with the prosecutor to negotiate the charges. Together they will discuss whether or not there is enough evidence to go to trial. The defense lawyer will also work hard during the discovery process, trying to gather documents and other evidence that will prove the accused’s innocence.
During the pretrial phase, any restraining orders that have been issued will be discussed and revisited to determine if they are still necessary. If they are no longer necessary, it will be harder for the prosecutor to prove the accused is guilty.
To give yourself the best chance during this stage, if you were served with a restraining order, obey it and do not contact or see the protected person under any circumstances. If there is something that must be discussed, such as childcare, you should always speak to your lawyer about the issue and allow him or her to make arrangements with your ex.
The last phase of the process is the trial, but very few domestic cases get to this point. It can be difficult to predict what a witness is going to say on the stand, or what evidence is going to be presented. No one wants to stand trial in a domestic violence case. But if the person who originally made the complaint is willing to testify in your favor, pushing for a trial can be beneficial. Complainants often become uncooperative and do not wish to press further charges or continue on with the case.
However, when this happens, prosecutors often claim battered woman syndrome. It is imperative that if you are accused of domestic violence, you have a good defense lawyer to fight these claims and prove your innocence.
Penalties Enforced for Domestic Violence
Even if you feel the charges against you are minor, it is important to understand that your future and freedom may be at stake when facing domestic violence or abuse charges. A domestic violence conviction could carry with it severe, life-altering consequences.
While the penalties will vary depending on the case, they can often include:
- Three years of probation
- 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling
- A fine determined by the court
- Restitution to the victim in some cases
- Public work service
- Jail time in felony cases or cases involving severe injuries
In addition to the penalties the criminal court can enforce, a family court may strip a parent of custody rights, barring the parent from spending time with his or her children due to a domestic violence conviction. No matter your situation, you cannot afford to go through this time without qualified representation.
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California law enforcement agencies and courts have become increasingly strict in regards to domestic violence cases. Increased pressure from political groups, as well as extensive media coverage and public outrage, has contributed to California's strict laws on domestic violence.
If your spouse or family member calls the police or 911 to report an incident, no matter how minor, you could face arrest and formal domestic violence charges – even if your partner or family member decides not to press charges or follow through with a case. New laws have made it so domestic violence cases cannot be handled informally under the radar. Even if the alleged victim decides not to press charges, the state prosecutor has the sole discretion to decide whether or not to follow through with charges. This makes it crucial for anyone accused to obtain legal representation they can rely on.
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