Domestic violence cases have been legislated by our government. What I mean by that is, the government has determined certain mandatory minimum sentences when it comes to a domestic violence case.
They've taken this to such an extreme because of political pressure and the various other elements that cause the legislature to act on these domestic violence cases, that even if you are able as a criminal defense attorney to get a lesser charge — to mitigate things down to something lesser in a domestic violence case.
Mandatory Minimum Sentences in Domestic Violence Cases
If the root of the problem involves some sort of an issue with a family member, a boyfriend, a girlfriend, a husband, a wife — some sort of a significant other, then there's certain minimum sentences that apply to the particular case.
For example, a person has to do a 52-week domestic violence course. That's once a week for one year, and you cannot escape out of that when it comes to these cases. Also, they're typically going to put you on three years of misdemeanor probation which basically means you can't get in trouble for those three years or you would violate your probation.
You also have that ten-year gun ban where you're not allowed to have a gun for ten years when it comes to your domestic violence cases.
So, those are three things right off the top in just about every domestic violence case filed in Los Angeles and you're looking at those things if the prosecutors can get a conviction against you. That's not where the punishment ends. That's just the bare minimum that's mandated by the legislature.
Serious Nature of the Offense
Other potential punishments really have to do with the dangerous and seriousness level of your domestic violence case. Obviously, the more damage that you've cause to the other party, the more dangerous that you are perceived by the prosecutors and/or judge, the more likely you are to get a harsh punishment.
When you talk harsh punishment, you're talking prison. You're talking in a lot of these felony domestic violence cases, you're looking at six years in prison for a high term for one of these charges and if you add in the fact that if you cause great bodily injury to the alleged victim in the case, that is a three year enhancement.
So, that's an extra three years that's tacked onto the back of that six years, so a lot of these cases your exposure could be nine years if you seriously injure somebody.
What that great bodily injury allegation does, in addition to adding three years to your sentence, it also makes the case a strike pursuant to the California Three Strikes Law. So, now you have a strike on your record. You're going to usually serve 85% of that time.
Some of these cases can be very serious. Obviously, moving down from a prison sentence which most people don't get, especially if it's your first offense, you could be facing local time in the Los Angeles Count Jail. That time could be served at Wayside County Jail or Twin Towers.
Those are the three areas in Los Angeles County where they house men who commit domestic violence crimes against their girlfriends or wives, and they also have the Lynnwood Detention Facility where they house women who commit domestic violence crimes. So, jail is another option in addition to the other punishments I've mentioned.
There's one other effective weapon that the prosecutors use is what's called a protective order. Basically, what that is, the judge orders the defendant to stay a hundred yards away from the victim in the case and that's usually while the case is pending, and even after the case in a lot of circumstances — especially if it's a felony.
Even if the victim wants the protective order off, a lot of times the judges refuse to do it because the feel that this victim is not going to protect themselves, so I'm going to protect them. I'm going to order the defendant to stay away from them.
Then if you have a circumstance where somebody gets into an argument or a fight, the neighbors call the police, the police come — nobody's been hit but the people are together and the police can see that there's a protective order there — now the person's going to be arrested.
They're going to violate that protective order, which is a new crime in and of itself, and if the person is on probation to a particular court, they will violate the probation and then they will be exposed to a punishment in their domestic violence case — whatever the maximum sentence is for whatever they pled guilty to.
Domestic Violence Lawyer
So, there's all sorts of different things that the prosecutor can use. They can make the person do AA meetings if they think alcohol is an issue in the case. They're going to craft a punishment that fits the crime and that is going to put the victim in the best position to not have any more issues with this particular defendant.
So, obviously, you're going want to have a criminal defense attorney that is local to the court where your case is pending, who knows how to handle domestic violence cases and is going to be looking out for your best interest in this situation and really make a strong effort to get you out of the criminal justice system as fast as possible.
Hedding Law Firm
16000 Ventura Blvd #1208
Encino, CA 91436