Los Angeles Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers
Domestic violence is one of the most frowned-upon charges in California, and unfortunately, is also one of the most common. Even the lightest form of domestic violence, called “domestic battery” can have significant negative effects on your life and your ability to achieve and retain employment. Further, domestic violence crimes can affect your immigration status and cause deportation – even if you are only convicted of a misdemeanor.
If you have been charged with a crime involving domestic violence, retaining legal counsel is crucial and can make the difference between jail time with a permanent blemish on your record, and the ability to carry on with your life. At Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP, we have a very high success rate at getting domestic violence charges dropped or reduced. We frequently see innocent people wrongly accused, and we know exactly how to defend your rights and your innocence. For the defense that you need, call our firm at (213) 688-0460 today.
Domestic violence is illegal in every state of America. However, the specifics of what is and is not domestic violence will change depending on the state. In California, domestic violence is defined under Penal Code PC 13700. Under this code, the crime of domestic violence is when someone commits abuse against an intimate partner, or a relation. This abuse must include the reckless and willful use of threats or physical force.
A common form of domestic violence is when one spouse begins hitting the other as an act of punishment. Or when a parent chooses to discipline a child using abusive acts. However, a key component of domestic violence is that the act is willful, as in intended. If the harm is accidental, due to self-defense, or forced by another party, then it is not considered domestic violence.
Not every act of violence can be considered domestic violence, and the law is very careful to define who can and cannot be considered a victim of domestic violence. If a victim does not fall on the list, then the charge of domestic violence will not hold water in court. Instead, the offense may be charged as assault or a different crime. Potential victims include:
- Former or current spouses
- Former or current domestic partners
- Former or current fiancés or fiancées
- Former or current live-in romantic partners
- The person that the accused has had a child with
- The child of the accused
- Any party related to the accused by blood or by marriage within a second degree
A relative within the second degree includes your siblings, parents, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts, and uncles. If a victim falls outside of that list, for example, a second cousin or a co-worker, then the act of violence would not be considered domestic.
There are two common charges of domestic violence with a spouse or intimate partner:
PC 243(e)(1), Domestic Battery
Domestic battery is the willful and unlawful touching of someone with whom you have an intimate relationship, and when that touching is considered harmful or offensive. Domestic battery does not have to result in an injury, the defendant only needs to have used force or violence against the plaintiff.
A domestic battery charge can result in a penalty of:
- A fine of up to $2,000
- Imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year
- Both the fine and imprisonment
A conviction of domestic battery also requires that you attend 52 weekly domestic violence classes.
PC 273.5, Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Inhabitant
Corporal injury to a spouse or inhabitant is the crime of inflicting an injury on someone with whom you have an intimate relationship. You can be charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the severity of the injuries to the alleged victim.
The penalties for a conviction of corporal injury to a spouse or inhabitant varies based on the severity of the injury and any prior convictions. As a misdemeanor, penalties may include:
- Up to one year in prison
- A fine of up to $6,000
- Both the jail time and fine
As a felony, the penalties for corporal injury to a spouse or inhabitant may include:
- Two, three, or four years in state prison
- A fine of up to $6,000
- Additional or more severe penalties if you have prior convictions of violent crimes on your record
All serious crimes, especially violent ones, have related offenses that are often thrown at the accused. These offenses are referred to as “aggravating,” because they can lengthen the accused’s sentence. For example, a case of vehicular manslaughter can be aggravated by a DUI charge, leading to a harsher punishment. With domestic violence, there are several aggravating factors, such as:
Child abuse: Children are commonly the victims of domestic violence. However, when a child is abused by a member of his or her household, then the abuser can be charged with both domestic violence and child abuse. A charge of child abuse can add from one to three years to the sentence of the convicted party.
Child endangerment: In a similar vein, the party who is physically harming the child is not the only one who can face a trial. It is illegal in the state of California to willfully allow a child to be harmed. This means that if one parent is allowing the other to hurt their child, then the parent who allowed the abuse could be facing a conviction as well, even if she never laid a hand on the child. This conviction could add six months to a jail sentence.
Elder abuse: Elderly members of the family can also face abuse, and, like children, have special protections under the law. Causing physical, emotional, or financial harm to someone over the age of 85 is considered elder abuse and can result in between one and four years behind bars, depending on whether it is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
Stalking: Stalking is when one party harasses and threatens another to the point where that second party fears for their safety or the safety of their family. This can be done verbally, through letters, or over the internet. Depending on the severity of the stalking, the charge could add between one to three years in prison or jail.
Aggravated trespassing: Oftentimes, in cases of domestic violence, the alleged victim will take a restraining order out on the supposedly guilty party. In such a case, aggravated trespassing charges are not uncommon. For a trespassing charge to be considered aggravated, one party must make a criminal threat, and then within 30 days enter the home or workplace of the person they threatened. This kind of crime can add up to three years in jail.
Because domestic violence is very frowned upon, there are additional consequences of a conviction, including the loss of the right to own a firearm, possible loss of a professional license (doctor, legal, etc.), and possible deportation for non-US citizens.
With the severe penalties and ramifications of domestic violence in California, you need to hire a criminal defense attorney as fast as possible. We can employ several common defenses to get the charges dropped or reduced, including:
- That you acted in self-defense of yourself or another (such as a child)
- That the injury was accidental
- That you didn’t “willfully” inflict any force or violence
- You were falsely accused (this is the most common defense)
Not every defense will fit your needs, however. All cases are different, especially when it comes to charges of domestic violence. Finding the right defense, and using proper evidence to craft it, is a difficult process, one that should be left to the experts. If you have been accused of domestic violence, then you should seek help from a skilled attorney.
The team at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP is here to help make sure false accusations of domestic violence don’t derail your life. We understand the severity of the situation, and we have the knowledge, experience, and resources to defend you aggressively. We treat our clients with respect and courtesy, working on your behalf to get the charges dropped or reduced. Call our Los Angeles violent crime lawyers today at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a free consultation and see how we can help you.
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Recent Case Results
- Complete Dismissal of Molestation Charges
Attorney Mark Werksman’s 29 year old client was falsely accused of molesting two neighborhood children and was subsequently charged with felony child molestation, with a significant prison sentence hanging over his head should he be convicted. Instead, at the preliminary hearing Werksman was able to convince the court to grant his client a complete dismissal of any charges.
- Decision Set Aside
Client, a college student in a faulty Title IX case, was awarded $130,000 in attorney fees.
- Probation with No Jail Time for Drug Money Laundering Charge
Wilmington man accused in New York federal court of laundering drug money through the sale of laptop computers. Mark was able to get the case transferred to federal court in Los Angeles, where he convinced the United States Attorney to reduce the charges. His client was sentenced to probation with no jail time on a misdemeanor conviction.