Many years ago, in 1994, O.J. Simpson went to trial and the undertone of the case was — and some of the arguments were — that he had committed domestic violence against his wife multiple times and the police had really done nothing about it.
He had been given a slap on the wrist, and ultimately, because of that lack of action, she was killed by him. Of course, there was no conviction in a criminal case. They did ultimately get a finding of guilt in the civil case where he was ordered to pay a bunch of money.
However, the bottom line is that really brought out some of the issues and problems at the time in the early 1990's and I'm sure well before that, the police, prosecutors and judges really weren't zeroed in on prosecuting people for domestic violence.
To give readers a better understanding of how domestic violence incidents in Los Angeles were handled after the O.J. Simpson case, our criminal defense attorneys are providing an overview below.
Domestic Violence Penalties Significantly Increased
Things, especially in Los Angeles, have changed since that time, where domestic violence cases, spousal abuse — any type of abuse of a family member. I see children falling under the umbrella of domestic violence, boyfriend/girlfriend, girlfriend/girlfriend — it doesn't really matter what the relationship is.
If there is some sort off relationship there and there's any type of violence involved, if the prosecutors and judges, and even the legislature to a big degree — jam that under the umbrella of domestic violence and anybody on the wrong end of that is going to look at a lot of different punishments.
A loss of their right to own a firearm, use and possess weapons/bullets — that's a big one, because they don't want people who lose their temper and do illegal violent actions to be able to have a gun, because they figure those people will end up shooting and killing somebody.
Another big thing is putting a protective order in place to keep the victim protected even when the victim doesn't want to be protected because that's their significant other. That's someone they love. Maybe that's someone who puts food on their table and takes care of their kids.
Maybe the alleged victim doesn't work and they like having the other person working and bringing home the money even if there's these allegations of domestic violence.
So, O.J. Simpson and that case really ignited the legislature. It ignited judges and prosecutors into making sure that victims of domestic violence were protected. So, all of these laws have been passed. They're putting people in jail. They're really trying to show power as far as stopping violence.
Victim Impact Prosecutors
Another big thing that has helped spearhead this domestic violence crusade is the fact that almost every single prosecuting agency and all of the courts in Los Angeles County — and there's approximately 25 here in 2019 as we move into 2020 — have special prosecutors called Victim Impact Prosecutors (VIP) and they're specially assigned to each domestic violence case that comes in.
This is something that never happened before the O.J. case. All of the domestic violence cases were treated like regular criminal cases, so a lot of times as the argument goes is that they slipped through the cracks and they weren't prosecuted the right way. People weren't punished.
Precautions weren't taken and that's how people end up dead. And that's why the O.J. case was such an igniter because it really forced prosecutors to do their job and to make sure that people who commit crimes — domestic violence crimes — against other individuals were severely punished. And that's exactly what has happened.
Since I've been practicing for the past 25+ years, I've seen the domestic violence epidemic, as far a prosecution and really not backing down and not giving up — a lot of times people will say to me, because they don't understand the new school of domestic violence since the O.J. Simpson case.
My significant other isn't going to prosecute me, so they're just going to dismiss the charges. Or, my significant other is going to dismiss the charges. What they're failing to realize is that their significant other is not the one who prosecutes.
It's the prosecutor who has a mission — who have a policy against domestic violence. So, even though their significant other is the alleged victim, they're not the ones who decide whether or not a case is dismissed or whether charges are dismissed.
Whether the prosecutors seek jail time, whether the prosecutors seek a serious conviction on your record. That's up to the prosecuting agency — whether it be the City Attorney, the District Attorney, and then the judge will be the one who has the final say as far as sentencing the person.
Most of the time in these domestic violence cases, the deals are worked out between the prosecutor and the defense attorney but sometimes the judges will get involved depending on the situation, so you've got to deal with them and they're political aspirations and their concern to protect victims of domestic violence.