Many people who have been arrested and charged with a California domestic violence related crime are first time offenders who have never been arrested for anything.
These defendants have no experience with the Los Angeles County criminal justice system and simply not familiar with how the court process works and have no idea what to expect next.
The criminal court process after a you were arrested for domestic violence is typically stressful with the real possibility of dividing a once close family unit.
Readers should note that Los Angeles County law enforcement, prosecutors, and the courts consider a domestic violence allegation a very serious issue.
If the victim sustained a serious injury, you might be charged with a felony case filed by prosecutors under California penal Code 273.5, known as corporal injury to a spouse. All felony cases normally require your personal appearance in court.
However, the vast majority of domestic violence cases are filed a misdemeanor case by the prosecution and the most common charges is California Penal Code 243(e)(1) – domestic battery.
In most misdemeanor cases in California, the defendant can retain a lawyer who can make the court appearances on their behalf, but domestic violence cases are the exception, which the reasons why are explained below.
A routine domestic violence case begins with a 911 call for the police to respond to the scene. Most domestic incidents start with some type of verbal argument between spouses, dating couples, or people who are living together.
Once police arrive, they will attempt to determine what exactly happened and to remove any risk of further conflict. They must also determine whether a crime committed by assessing the victim's statements looking for visible marks or a claimed injury.
If probable cause exists to believe domestic violence occurred, then will arrest the aggressor, or both people. At this point, criminal court process will begin.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys will provide a further review below.
Common California Domestic Violence Charges in Los Angeles County
- Penal Code 243(e)(1) – Domestic Battery;
- Penal Code 273.5 – Corporal Injury to a Spouse;
- Penal Code 273.6 – Violating a Restraining or Protective Order;
- Penal Code 422 – Criminal Threats;
- Penal Code 273a – Child Endangerment;
- Penal Code 273d – Child Abuse;
- Penal Code 368 – Elder Abuse;
- Penal Code 136.1 – Dissuading a Witness;
- Penal Code 646.9 PC – Stalking;
In a Domestic Violence Case Why Does the Defendant Have to Show up to First Court Appearance in a Misdemeanor Case?
Typically, in Los Angeles county, the defendant or the person who has been arrested does not have to show up for the first court appearance and the lawyer can show up for them.
This means your defense attorney can speak to the court, speak to the prosecutor and continue the case, and then give the client and opportunity to review everything and there can be a discussion about how the case is going to be resolved.
But, when it comes to domestic violence cases, the short answer is, when you show up for the first court appearance, the judge is going to order that you stay away from the alleged victim while the case is pending.
That is a right that the judge has. They're able to do that if it's a domestic violence case.
If the person didn't show up for the first court appearance, then the judge would have nobody to order and their order would not be effective.
Ordering the attorney to tell their client to stay away from the alleged victim is not an effective way to deal with a protective order, and that's exactly what the person is being ordered to do — not to violate the protective order.
The domestic violence protective order is going to address several different issues, including:
- staying 100 yards away from the person;
- not making any phone calls;
- not directing any relatives to make any phone calls.
Basically, it is designed and meant to protect the victim from any further domestic violence.
A lot of people are angry about this saying, aren't I presumed innocent? Why should a judge be able to start making orders against me when they haven't even heard any of the evidence?
And when it comes to criminal cases and bail and domestic violence orders like the protective order, the judge is to assume that the allegations are true for purposes of ordering the defendant to stay away from the alleged victim.
This is something that the legislature and courts have come up with. So, basically, it is the law of the land.
Court Appearances by Your Defense Lawyer
So, if you or a loved one has been arrested for a domestic violence case and you have an upcoming court appearance and even if it's charged as a misdemeanor, you still have to show up for the first court appearance.
Now, if it's charged as a misdemeanor case and you show up for the first court appearance and you're ordered to stay away from the alleged victim, the next court appearances and the court appearances that follow, your lawyer, if they choose, can appear for you and have you not come to court.
When it comes to a felony domestic violence case, it's always been a different story, and that is, the person has to show up at every felony appearance, whether it's a domestic violence case or not.
Now, with the Covid-19 pandemic, the courts have changed that and there's a Penal Code Section 977(b) PC which allows the attorney to appear for their client even in a felony domestic violence situation.
Typically, you're going to have the client sign a form that basically gives the attorney the authority to do that.
If you want to do it the right way, it will be done on the record in the court, and the court will ask you specifically if you give your attorney the right to do that.
Strategy to Fight Domestic Violence Charges
So, if you or a loved one is charged with a domestic violence case in Los Angeles County and you're looking for the best criminal defense attorney to defend you, pick up the phone and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.
I will explain to you all of the ins-and-outs of a domestic violence case and we will get a game plan and a strategy together and put my 27 years handling hundreds of domestic violence cases to work for you.
Hedding Law Firm has two office locations in LA County and we offer a free case evaluation to review all the details of your case and legal options moving forward.