Domestic Violence: Guilty Before Proven Innocent?

Domestic Violence: Guilty Before Proven Innocent?

If you’ve been accused of committing a domestic violence related offense, you may feel like the phrase “innocent until proven guilty” is a myth. Often in cases of DV, the accuser is given the full benefit of the doubt and the alleged abuser becomes a social outcast within the family, community and sometimes at work, even before they see a courtroom.

Because prosecutors and law enforcement take domestic violence accusations so seriously, they will likely issue a peace (or “stay away”) order the moment the accuser files charges. This could mean that before you ever speak to a judge or investigators, you will be ordered to stay away from your abuser, any children you may have together, and out of your home until the court hears your case.

Most people are surprised to learn that they can be charged with domestic violence against people who are not their spouse or partner, and for acts that don’t involve physical abuse at all.

Domestic violence can be charged for any assault or abusive, threatening act against a spouse, partner, children, family members, people who live with you, or ex-partners. In some jurisdictions, you can be charged with domestic violence for an abusive or threatening act against an ex-partner’s new spouse or partner.

The most commonly charged act of domestic violence is Domestic Battery. Battery is charged when the defendant punches, slaps, kicks, pulls hair, or performs any act involving the infliction of willful force against any of the aforementioned individuals.

Other acts of violence charged as domestic violence include:

  • Vandalism or destruction of property used as a method to harm, intimidate or “punish” the victim
  • Holding the victim against their will, either by force or threat i.e.; not allowing them to leave the home or space under the threat of violence or actual physical force
  • Brandishing a weapon with the threat of physical harm
  • Threatening violence if the victim presses charges or testifies against you, also referred to as “Witness Intimidation”

Most of the offenses above are considered felonies, or at the very least, “wobbler offenses”, which in California means the State could prosecute as either a misdemeanor or a felony. There are also additional sentencing consequences that can be imposed if you’ve ever been convicted of a felony previously, or if the act was committed with a deadly weapon. In addition, a conviction of any domestic violence charge will require you turn in any firearms you may own to authorities and lose your ability to ever purchase a firearm in the future.

With all the odds stacked in the favor of the victim, and without physical proof being required to constitute an actual crime took place, it may seem the odds are greatly stacked against those accused of domestic violence. However, there are several defenses that can be used to fight DV charges:

  • Self-defense is the number 1 defense against any charge of violence. If you were defending yourself against physical harm, you may be able to prove self-defense, and have the charges against you dropped.
  • Defending someone else in your household may also be used to defend your domestic violence charges. If you were acting in the defense of your child, for instance, the court may see your behavior as necessary, and not proceed with a criminal case.
  • Oftentimes estranged partners or spouses will use domestic abuse to “get back at” their former partner out of spite and claim abuse when no act of violence ever occurred. Proving your accuser’s allegations were vindictive in nature will result in having your charges dismissed, and the peace order quashed.

Regardless of the facts of your case, you’ll need an aggressive domestic violence defense lawyer to protect your interests inside and outside of the court. Having an attorney experienced in defending domestic violence charges will allow you to fight charges brought against you out of anger, explain cases of self-defense, and work with prosecutors to have your charges reduced or dismissed.

Domestic violence charges can put your life and freedom on the line. You need a Los Angeles defense attorney in your corner. Call Shield Criminal Defense Law today for a comprehensive legal analysis of your domestic violence case, we are available 24 hours a day at (213) 514-8732.

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