This is probably one of the more difficult situations to handle as a criminal defense attorney when your client is charged with a domestic violence charge and there's children involved. The prosecutors, judges and police obviously don't want to see children and domestic violence and they tend to blame the issue on whoever the offending spouse is in a situation where there's a fight, there's violence, children are present and see what happens.
Child Endangerment Charges – Penal Code 273(a)
There better not be any children present or actually being abused during the domestic violence and then the prosecutors really see red as far as punishment and a conviction and what they're going to do to the criminal defendant in that circumstance. See related CALCRIM 822 Jury Instructions – Inflicting Physical Punishment on Child.
So, if you've got a situation where there's a child involved — it's a domestic violence situation — obviously, you need to get to an attorney immediately because there is an extra enhancement.
In addition to being charged with domestic violence, a lot of times the person will also be charged with child endangerment, which is defined under California Penal Code 273(a), and this starts to not only cause a strong possibility there's going to be custody time, but it also may cause you to lose your valuable rights with your child.
If you get hit with a conviction of child endangerment and if there's any type of divorce situation going on, child custody is going to be a real problem for the offending spouse who commits a domestic violence charge that involves any type of children whatsoever.
Sometimes one spouse gets the children involved when they really shouldn't be involved. They start to make false allegations against another spouse because they're trying to gain an advantage in a divorce situation.
If this is where you find yourself, you obviously are going to need a fighter. You're going to need an attorney who has been down this road before, who has defended people who are charged with committing crimes that involved children, the family setting, domestic violence.
Special Prosecutor Assigned to Case With Children Involved
They'll be a special prosecutor assigned to the case and obviously, that prosecutor is going to be looking out number one for the child because when children are involved, prosecutors and judges feel they have a special obligation to make sure that those children are protected and anybody involved with doing any type of physical or mental harm to a child is punished in a very severe manner.
So, if you find yourself in this situation, take the right precautions. Make the right moves. Get your self a divorce and child custody lawyer so you can protect your interests with your children.
Obviously, you're going to want to get somebody who has handled cases with children involved, can do damage control and really not allow the system to take your parental right away.
Sometimes when children are involved and it's a domestic violence situation, what I see happening is the children are actually sent into the Monterey Children's Court in downtown Los Angeles. Everybody is given an attorney — the child and the two parents.
The bottom line is, the court and County Counsel for the government are going to be looking to make sure that if there's domestic violence in the home where children reside, they need to make sure the children are protected.
If they're not, they will not give the children back, even to the innocent parent, because they want to make sure the children are not in a home where violence could possibly get to them. So, they will do everything they can to prevent that from happening.