criminal defense

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.

If you are accused of domestic violence in California, then you may find yourself the subject of a restraining order (also known as a protective order).

Protective orders are designed to protect a person from abuse, harassment, stalking and threats by the person named in the order. These orders often include provisions prohibiting contact with the protected individual, including things like phone calls, text messages and even interactions on sites like Facebook or Twitter.

Penalties for violating a restraining order can be harsh, depending on whether it’s a first or subsequent violation and whether the victim suffers physical injury. Penalties include court fines, restitution for the victim’s counseling and medical services, and even the relinquishment of your firearms and an inability to legally obtain new ones.

Defenses Against a Restraining Order Violation

There are several potential defenses that your attorney could use in court to have your charges reduced or dismissed. Some of these include:

  • The protective order was never legally issued by a judge
  • You were unaware that a restraining order had been filed against you
  • The violation of the restraining order’s terms was unintentional or unavoidable
  • You are being falsely accused of violating the restraining order

Even if none of the above are true in your case, it is still worthwhile to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney. If you are facing domestic violence charges or have been accused of violating a restraining order in Alameda County, our law firm can help. Call us for a free consultation at (510) 582-9090.

While murder and manslaughter are different charges, some people may not understand what exactly makes them different from one another. In addition, murder charges are usually defined as first or second-degree depending on the severity of the crime. Manslaughter, on the other hand, can be voluntary or involuntary. The main difference between these two charges will be dependent on the state of mind of the person when they committed the violent action.

Voluntary and Involuntary Manslaughter

Manslaughter is the unlawful killing of another person that does not involve the intent to seriously harm or kill. Further, it usually involves less moral blame than murder. There are two types of manslaughter you could potentially be charged with will be either voluntary or involuntary. Voluntary manslaughter, also called a heat of passion crime, happens when a person is strongly provoked and kills someone in the heat of passion because they were provoked. Heat of passion exists only if the provoked party does not have time to cool off. Due to this emotional context, moral blameworthiness is reduced for people who kill in the heat of passion. Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, is the unintentional killing of another person due to criminally negligent or reckless behavior. This can be confused with second-degree murder, since extremely reckless behavior that leads to the death of another can be charged as second-degree murder.

First and Second-Degree Murder

First-degree murder is the unlawful killing of another person with the intent to seriously harm or kill. First-degree murder is also planned and committed in a cruel way under special circumstances. Other                                              offenses that can also be included in this charge:

  • Kidnapping
  • Hijacking
  • Robbery
  • Assault
  • Torture

Second-degree murder occurs when criminal negligence leads to the unlawful death of another person. It is also defined as a premeditated murder committed without special circumstances. Second-degree murder is slightly less grave than first-degree murder. Second-degree murder can also be similar to involuntary manslaughter and the extremity of the criminal negligence or reckless behavior may decide which charge will be given.

If you’re facing criminal charges for murder, contact an attorney as soon as you can. The criminal defense attorneys at the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman have years of experienced handling murder and manslaughter cases. Call us to schedule a free consultation today.

When a witness is brought in for questioning, they may be asked to provide evidence that could potentially incriminate them. The Fifth Amendment, however, protects witnesses from sharing incriminating information against themselves should it be invoked, and the witness refuses to answer any more questions. However, it is possible for an investigator to push past this privilege and obtain the information they require. By offering the witness immunity, the witness could avoid prosecution in exchange for a testimony.

The broadest type of immunity that is usually granted is transactional immunity. Also known as “total” or “blanket” immunity, transactional immunity offers complete protection from future prosecution for anything mentioned in the witness’ testimony. Keep in mind, however, that transactional immunity does not protect against prosecution for unrelated crimes mentioned in the testimony. Further, transactional immunity is not offered by the federal system, so it may not be offered as readily as one might think.

Used by both federal and state systems, use and derivative use immunity is a common but narrower type of immunity that could be offered to the witness.  This immunity stops the prosecution from using the witness’ statements or the evidence derived from those statements against the witness. Use and derivative use immunity does not protect against additional investigation, on the part of the prosecution, into crimes mentioned by the witness. Charges could be brought against the witness for their mentioned crime only if independent evidence is provided proving the crime. If independent evidence separate from the testimony is not provided, the judge could block the use of the immunized testimony.

A witness can also waive immunity if they wish. Immunity can be waived using a written statement, testifying before immunity is granted, or by not asking for immunity in a timely manner. When a witness waives immunity, the previously immunized testimony can be used in the case. However, before you consider waiving immunity, meet with criminal defense lawyer beforehand. Our team at the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman can protect your rights and interests as a witness.

marijuana DUIIn many cases, people are accused of stalking even though under the definition of the law, they did not commit any acts that would be considered stalking in California.

Definition of Stalking in California

CA.gov features a page on stalking in California. The page has a section on it regarding behaviors that are defined as stalking. These behaviors include the following:

  • Spying – This can include cyberstalking, literally hiding and spying or showing up at an event and keeping watch.
  • Threatening – Making threats that cause the victim fear or apprehension, such as threatening to enter the victim’s home.
  • Monitoring – Keeping track of the victim’s activities by following them online through their social media pages, using a GPS device or questioning the victim’s friends and family about the victim’s activities and whereabouts.
  • Harassing – Making several calls to the victim that are harassing in their frequency or due to their content.

There are several defenses that can be used if you have been accused of stalking. To learn more about what happens if you are accused of stalking in California and what you should do about it, call the Law Office of Louis J. Goodman. Criminal defense lawyer Louis J. Goodman has been successfully protecting the rights of people charged with stalking. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your situation with him.

Attorney Louis J. Goodman, speaks about guns and gun charges in the State of California. Watch as he sheds light on legal matters concerning this issue.

Do I need an attorney to defend against federal criminal charges? While many of us have had slight brushes with the law, few have had contact with the federal criminal justice system. It’s likely that you would feel uncomfortable when faced with criminal charges, but charges at the federal level are even more complex and harrowing.

The nature and the structure of the federal criminal court system are unfamiliar because the rules and procedures are vastly differing from those on the state level. The justice system on the federal level is designed with one purpose in mind; punishment of the wrongdoer. The intended purpose of this punishment is to rehabilitate the offender or to deter him from future criminal acts. If all of this sounds frightening and overwhelming, it’s because it is. (more…)

According to SpotCrime, over the past month, the three most common crimes reported in Hanford, CA were theft, assault, and burglary. The site compiles data from actual police reports and court records. With all of these crimes being reported, there are many arrests being made by law enforcement in Hanford.

Theft is basically a trespassory taking and carrying away of the personal property of another with the intent to permanently deprive the owner of the property. If you have been arrested for theft in Hanford, you should seek the advice and counsel of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. (more…)