Domestic Violence

Defending yourself against domestic violence charges can be difficult. However, you do have certain rights and options that may help you throughout the process. First and foremost, you should get in touch with an experienced criminal defense attorney for assistance in building your case.

After that, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the following actions:

Understanding the Definition of Domestic Violence

Under state law, domestic violence is defined as harming, or threatening to harm, an intimate partner. Common charges include domestic battery and inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner.

For purposes of criminal law, an intimate partner may include a current or former spouse, a current or former domestic partner, a current or former fiance, a person with whom you have a child, or a current or former significant other.

Consequences of a conviction may include jail time, participation in an intervention program, payment of fines, loss of custody rights, a permanent criminal record, and loss of gun rights. You may also face a restraining order.

Building a Defense

Common defenses used against domestic violence charges include:

  • Claiming you did not commit the crime at all
  • Claiming your former spouse or partner fabricated the story
  • Claiming it was an accident, and therefore unintentional
  • Claiming you were defending yourself or your children
  • Claiming the incident cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt
  • Claiming the incident took place because of your partner’s violent behavior
  • Claiming the police made errors during their investigation and/or arrest

As soon as you hire an attorney, the police report of the incident will be carefully combed through for details. Is there a recorded call to emergency services that supports the victim’s story? Were there witnesses? What was your emotional state during the incident? Do you have a history of violence? Does your home show the signs of a physical struggle?

Your chosen defense will help your attorney determine where to look for possible evidence that backs up your claim.

Asking for a Continuance

Because a hearing in a domestic violence case typically takes place within ten days of the complaint, you may choose to ask the court to “continue” the hearing — giving you additional time to build your case.

Conducting Discovery

During any criminal case, you have the right to ask for certain documents to build your defense, including copies of medical records regarding the injuries the victim claims to have suffered, a list of witnesses the victim intends to bring to the stand during trial, and copies of all evidence the victim will use in court.

You can also find evidence for yourself, including details from the police report, information from third-party witnesses that are not being used by the victim, or additional photographs and tape recordings you have in your possession.

Contact an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney for Representation

Have you found yourself in a situation where you are defending yourself against domestic violence charges? An experienced Alameda County criminal defense attorney can help you understand and fight for your rights. Contact our team at The Law Office of Louis J. Goodman by calling (510) 582-9090.

Additional Reading:

Under California law, you could be served with a restraining order for a multitude of reasons. A domestic violence restraining order is used when there has been alleged abuse from a spouse, former spouse or someone the plaintiff is dating or used to date. It can also be used when there has been alleged abuse against a close family member, cohabitant, co-parent or child.

Abuse does not necessarily mean physical abuse. Though abuse does include acts or attempted acts of physical or sexual harm, verbal harassment and intimidation are also considered forms of abuse.

If you have a restraining order against you, it could affect many of your rights:

Your right to contact. Generally, a restraining order protects the plaintiff from any contact with the defendant. This means you may not contact the plaintiff through text, phone call, e-mail, by mail or in person. In addition, you may not come near or contact anyone who lives with the plaintiff.

Your right to see your children. In addition to restricting contact with the plaintiff, a restraining order could affect your ability to see your children. The court could grant child custody rights to the plaintiff. However, depending on the court order, you could be granted child visitation rights.

Your right to live on your property. A restraining order could order you to leave your apartment or house if you are currently living with the plaintiff. It does not matter if the property is in your name.

Your right to go where you please. In addition to staying away from the plaintiff’s home and workplace, you may also be required to stay away from your child’s school and homes of the plaintiff’s family members. Also, if you come across the plaintiff in public, you should leave the area or you could be arrested.

Your right to possess or own a firearm. When a restraining order has been filed against you, you must turn in all of your firearms to local authorities or have them stored with a licensed firearm dealer. You must file proof of completion within 48 hours of receiving the court order.

How an Alameda County Restraining Order Attorney Could Help You

If you have been served a restraining order, you should contact an experienced, restraining order attorney before your court hearing. In California, a restraining order can last up to five years. If you fail to come to your court hearing, you forfeit your right to stand up for yourself.

At the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman, we could help you file a legal response to the restraining order against you, defend your rights in court and fight for a fair outcome. If you have questions about your rights and responsibilities under California law, we could answer your questions. Contact our office at (510) 582-9090 or fill out our online form to schedule a free initial consultation.

Every domestic dispute case is unique. Therefore, the consequences of a domestic violence offense depend upon a variety of factors. Many offenses could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, which would result in different penalties. Determination is based on the circumstances of the situation, whether any injuries occurred, the seriousness of incurred injuries and the defendant’s prior offenses.

When law enforcement is called for a domestic dispute, under California law, they must arrest someone if they find probable cause that an altercation has occurred. There are multiple forms of domestic violence offenses a defendant could be charged with, including domestic battery, stalking or harassment. Depending on the charge, a conviction could result in these penalties:

  • Fines
  • Time in jail
  • Completion of a domestic abuse treatment program
  • Community service
  • Payments to a domestic violence program
  • Restitution payments to the alleged victim

A domestic violence charge could also negatively affect your everyday way of life in other ways. Other implications include:

Your right to own a weapon. Current law requires a convicted defendant to surrender their weapons for up to 10 years. However, Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a law that will keep certain defendants from ever possessing a firearm. Going into effect on January 1, 2019, certain domestic violence misdemeanors could result in losing your right to own or possess a weapon forever.

Loss of child custody rights. California considers domestic violence charges when granting child custody. In most cases, a defendant convicted of domestic violence will lose sole or joint custody rights and receive visitation rights only. However, because the court takes into account the best interest of the child, if custody to the other party is a worse option, the court may allow the defendant to keep custody rights.

Sex offender registration. Some stalking charges could result in the defendant being required to register as a sex offender. Being registered as a sex offender would cause serious limitations on your life including limitations on where you work and live.

Employment. A domestic violence charge could seriously affect your employment. If you work in a public service industry such as teaching or nursing, you could lose your job. Military professionals could lose their right to possess a weapon too. California state law affects military personnel and law enforcement officers. If applying for jobs, your conviction could come up during an employment background check and make it more difficult for you to get a job.

Need an Alameda County Domestic Violence Defense Attorney?

The Law Office of Louis J. Goodman understands the serious consequences a domestic violence allegation can have on your life. If you have been arrested for domestic violence in Alameda County, I recommend that you remain silent and contact a domestic violence defense attorney as soon as possible. California’s domestic violence laws are complicated. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights under the law as well as how the law could affect your case.

Having an experienced attorney on your side could help you negotiate a more favorable outcome. For example, if your domestic violence offense is being charged as a felony, a defense attorney could help reduce your charge to a misdemeanor. Call (510) 582-9090 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.

When one thinks of domestic violence, commonly, that violence occurs between either spouses, significant others or family members. But when an assault or battery occurs between two roommates, does this count as domestic violence?

The short answer – no, not typically. And here’s why.

Domestic Violence Laws in California

California’s domestic violence statutes are defined most by penal codes 273.5 and 243(e)(1), which only cover physical attacks against certain people, including:

  • Spouses, whether current or former
  • Fiancés or former fiancés
  • Co-parents of children
  • Current or past romantic partners
  • Cohabitants or former cohabitants

It may seem like roommates are covered under this law – roommates are cohabitants, after all. However, courts have consistently held that the California domestic violence codes only apply to cohabitants that have been involved in some type of romantic or sexual relationship.

To quote one California appellate court:

The term cohabitant “requires something more than a platonic, rooming-house arrangement.” It “has been interpreted ‘broadly’ to refer to those ‘ “living together in a substantial relationship — one manifested, minimally, by permanence and sexual or amorous intimacy.”  – People v. Holifield, 205 Cal.App.3d 993 (1998)

So, if you are accused of battery by a roommate, then you should make it clear to your attorney that you were never involved in any intimate relationship with your roommate. This won’t protect you from battery claims, but it can eliminate any doubt as to whether domestic violence has occurred.

What Do I Do If I Have Been Accused of Battery by a Roommate in California?

Battery accusations can lead to serious penalties, including jail time and expensive fines. You need to speak to a criminal defense attorney to preserve your rights if you have been accused of battery, whether domestic or otherwise. Call us for a free consultation at (510) 582-9090, or contact us online and tell us about your case.