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Domestic Violence

Learn Your Best Defense Strategy in Domestic Violence Cases in Los Angeles

Over the course of the past 25 years I have defended literally hundreds of domestic violence cases.  The most common charges are domestic battery under Penal Code 243(e)(1). In just about every case the other party has a change of heart regarding wanting their significant other prosecuted.

The prosecutors are keen to this and really do not care as far as dismissing the charges.  In fact, they expect the other party to try and help their significant other and have strategies to counter this approach.

Domestic Violence Attorney in Los Angeles
I wrote the book on defending domestic violence charges.

It is up to the domestic violence attorney to be ready to show them that their case is weak and if they do go to trial, they will lose.

And, when I prepare cases, I prepare them with the idea of going to trial if necessary.  This approach gives us the best chance to show the prosecutors that their case has problems and we are prepared to exploit the problems if necessary.

Without this strategy the question becomes why should they bend on how they handle their case.

We must show them that the other party had a motive to embellish and even lie because of facts that were not brought up at the time the police came out to the location of the arrest.

Further, many times the other parties story does not match up with the evidence that is available in the case.

For example, I see people claiming they were punched in the face multiple times by a much bigger person and their injuries do not show it.

This is the first sign that they did not tell the truth and that their credibility is so questionable that they can not be believed in anything they said at the time of arrest.

There are so many different motives for people to lie when it comes to human affairs that we must sit down and go over your defense piece by piece and set up our strategy for success.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence is the mental, physical and/or verbal abuse of a spouse, child, family member, cohabitant or loved one. It may involve kicking, hitting, punching, pushing, name calling and intimidation.

Domestic violence is considered to be a very aggressive crime in nature and is one of many violent crimes that often go unreported as well as the more underestimated crimes of intimidationstalking, and criminal threats.

Due to this, it is important to work with an experienced defense attorney who can protect your rights if you are accused of domestic violence.

When law enforcement responds to a domestic violence call they must assess the situation, and if they feel that someone has committed a crime of violence then they must make an arrest – whether or not the alleged victim wants to press charges.

In addition, when someone is arrested for domestic violence a restraining order or criminal protective order is almost always issued.

This type of order of protection will have special instructions by a judge ordering the abuser to stay away from the victim and his or her place of residence, employment and school. It will also state that you must stay away from any other family members, friends or cohabitants of the victim.

Therefore, in the case that there are children involved, you will no longer be able to see them until determined otherwise by the courts. Authorities are also to assess the situation to determine if there is any child abuse or child endangerment taking place.

In a domestic violence case, even when the victim refuses to press charges against you, the district attorney's office can still prosecute you and the penalties can be severe.

If convicted of domestic violence in California you will be facing a sentence of up to 1 year in a county jail or 4 years in a state prison – and a loss of your gun rights.

You may also be ordered to pay a fine of $6,000 or more, restitution to the victim, and attend community service and anger management classes.

In addition, if this is your third felony offense or more under California's three strikes law you may also be looking at a lifetime sentence behind bars.

Our criminal defense attorneys have defended many domestic violence cases throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding areas and have a complete understanding of the law and how it can affect your freedom.

Domestic Violence Laws in California

  • California Penal Code 273.5 PC – Corporal Injury to a Spouse – makes punishable to strike an intimate partner in some violent way causing a visible injury.
  • California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) – Domestic Battery – makes it a misdemeanor to inflict force or violence on an intimate partner. This specific penal code does not require a visible injury.
  • California Penal Code Section 273d –  Child Abuse – makes it illegal to inflict corporal punishment or injury on a child if it was cruel or inhuman.
  • California Penal Code Section 273a – Child Endangerment – makes it illegal to willfully allow a child who is in your care or custody to suffer harm or have his or her health endangered.
  • California Penal Code Section 368 – Elder Abuse – makes it a crime to inflict physical or emotional abuse, neglect, or endangerment on a person 65 years of age or older.
  • California Evidence Code 1109 – Allows admission of evidence of a person's character, including the use of prior misconduct to show a defendant's propensity to commit the currently charged offense.

Most domestic violence cases arise from same sex domestic violence and/or spousal abuse and our spousal abuse defense lawyers have handled these types of cases. Our California criminal defense lawyers understand that often the innocent people get accused and we are here to prevent that and fight for our clients.

How to Avoid a Felony in a Domestic Violence Case?

Many people don't realize that the charges from a domestic violence incident can be filed as felonies or misdemeanors. In addition, depending on what happened, multiple charges can be filed. 

What determines whether it's a felony or a misdemeanor is an essential question. I believe you must get a criminal defense attorney with experience dealing with domestic violence cases. Hence, you have the best chance of not receiving a felony on your record.

When we talk about a felony for domestic violence, we're talking about a scenario where somebody gets seriously hurt typically – broken bones, some internal injury. 

Another way they can get a felony is if the person has prior convictions for domestic violence and is committing a new domestic violence case again. But, again, this could jack the case up to a felony. I've seen felonies charged because the battery occurs when the woman, for example, is pregnant.  That could jack the case up to a felony.

Motion to Reduce to a Misdemeanor

So, it's crucial for your defense that you make sure you have an attorney who can do the following:

  • who knows what scenarios amount to a felony in domestic violence, and
  • knows how to attack the prosecutor's case to knock the case down to a misdemeanor, especially if you're guilty of something but shouldn't be charged with a felony case.

One strategy that I've utilized if you're charged with a felony domestic violence case is that we will set the case for a preliminary hearing. We will do the prelim and damage the prosecutor's case.  Show the judge that it's not felony conduct.  Show the judge the following:

  • your criminal record,
  • your career,
  • get character letters, and
  • do what's called a Penal Code 17(b) PC motion to reduce the felony to a misdemeanor.

There's nothing the prosecutors can do about that except argue against it. Still, the judge has the authority under the right circumstances to reduce a felony domestic violence charge down to a misdemeanor. So ultimately, if you complete the probation on that, we can get the case dismissed.

Arrest and Investigation Process in a Domestic Violence Case

Regarding the arrest and initial stages of a domestic violence case, you must have an attorney on your side from the beginning.  We get involved with the case, we sit down with you, and we talk about exactly what you're up against and the following:

  • We will discuss what you're facing,
  • What the other party is going to claim that you did,
  • We will decide exactly how we're going to handle the case,
  • What type of information you're going to get about the case;
  • Whether you're going to talk to the other party about the case,
  • Whether you're going to be with the other party while the investigation phase is pending; and
  • What you might expect moving forward.

That way, you begin to take control of your domestic violence case to get the best possible outcome.

Independent Investigation

Sometimes, we might even investigate the domestic violence case before it's filed, such as the following:

  • get witness statements,
  • get photographs of certain things that are important in the case,
  • preserve video evidence – it just depends on your case.

Don't be fooled into thinking the same thing is done in every domestic violence case.  It depends on the case. However, some things do make sense to do. 

That's why we get you in immediately.  We sit down and go over everything.  In that way, not only do you make the right moves for yourself, but you have your attorney making the right moves for you, and you put yourself in the best position from the beginning.

Retain a Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer

So, many things can be done in domestic violence cases, but the first step is to hire the right attorney. Then, we will sit down and go over your whole case. Then, finally, we get your side of the story. 

If I don't have the paperwork and discovery on the case yet, it's best to give me all of the details so I can see exactly where we're going to be attacking the case and what the police and prosecutors are going to say that you did wrong. 

Once I have that information, we'll discuss your defense and see if the case is defensible – if you can argue self-defense or some other defense – and get the case dismissed.

If you're involved in a domestic violence case and want to do it once if you have to, do it right and never again.  That's my job.  Let my 30 years of experience work for you right from the beginning in the investigative stage, in the stage when you've been arrested, whatever the case may be.

I will direct you, guide you, and make the most that will get you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible. So I put out my shingle and started defending domestic violence cases right from the beginning – at the investigative stage, at the arrest stage – that helps guide the case in the right direction so you can get the best result.

Meeting with Prosecutor

If not, if we have to mitigate it and try to work out a deal, I will put together a mitigation package, get character letters, and set up a meeting with the head prosecutor. They have the authority to reduce the case to a misdemeanor, try to keep you out of jail and do all the necessary things to get the best result.

So, if you're talking about felony versus misdemeanor in a domestic violence case, sit down with me.  Let's talk about it.  I'll let you know what I think once I hear the details. 

Many people get arrested for domestic violence and have to post a $50,000.00 bail, and they think they've been charged with a felony, but they haven't because the police can't charge people, only prosecutors can charge people.

So, having an attorney that can go to the prosecutor and fight for you and try to get the misdemeanor makes all the sense in the world. So, pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you.

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