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BlogPotential Defenses in a California Domestic Violence Case

In general, when it comes to California domestic violence cases, a common perception is that the criminal justice system tends to favor the accusers. False domestic violence charges in California, however, are unfortunately all too common, and domestic violence conviction can lead to a myriad of serious consequences. Those consequences may include criminal fines, jail time, and protective orders being issued against you – as well as irreparable harm to your reputation.

If you are facing domestic violence charge, you need an experienced California criminal defense attorney on your side who can assist you with your case. A skilled lawyer can make all the difference when it comes to potentially obtaining a dismissal of your charge or a favorable plea deal with the state’s attorney. A lawyer can also be helpful at sentencing hearings when arguing for a reduced sentence after sustaining a domestic violence conviction.

If you are facing Los Angeles domestic violence charges, you should call The Law Offices of David S. Chesley today at 1-800-755-5174, or contact us online to schedule a free case evaluation;

Defining Domestic Violence in California

Depending upon the facts and circumstances of the case-at-hand, domestic violence can be a felony or a misdemeanor. In order to constitute a domestic violence charge, the accused must have intentionally inflicted bodily injury on another person, resulting in a "traumatic condition." In addition, qualify as domestic violence, the alleged victim must have been the accused's cohabitant, former spouse, spouse, former cohabitant, partner in a dating or former relationship, or the father or mother of the accused’s child.

The bodily injury component can come in the form of punching, hitting, biting, pushing, stabbing, or strangling. The key to proving domestic violence is showing that the accused and the accuser live under the same roof.

There are other California criminal charges which are commonly associated with domestic violence. Those charges include:

  • Stalking
  • Trespass
  • Child abuse
  • Child endangerment
  • Elder abuse
  • Kidnapping
  • Domestic battery
  • Spousal abuse
  • Sexual assault

Domestic violence is typically a felony charge in the State of California. Consequently, a domestic violence conviction can incur severe penalties. The potential penalties upon conviction may include:

  • Incarceration in state prison for a period of two to four years
  • Incarceration in a county jail for no more than one year
  • A monetary fine of up to $6,000
  • A combination of jail time and monetary fines

Proving California Domestic Violence Cases

In California criminal cases, including domestic violence cases, the prosecutor must prove that the accused committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. The “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard amounts to a doubt based upon common sense and ordinary reason.

Much like the State has the burden of proving the legal elements of domestic violence (and any other charged crimes), the accused has the burden of proving any applicable defenses to the charge(s).

Motives for Filing False Domestic Violence Charges

In most domestic violence cases, the word of the alleged victim tends to carry more weight than the word of the accused.

By the same token, however, false domestic violence charges are filed all the time. In some cases, the alleged victim may file the charges simply to seek attention, while in other cases, the alleged victim is trying to obtain revenge against the accused for an extramarital affair. Other common bases for false domestic violence charges include the following:

  • The alleged victim is trying to obtain more money out of a divorce settlement.
  • The alleged victim is trying to obtain custody of the couple’s minor children by damaging the accused’s reputation.
  • The alleged victim has mental health problems of his or her own or is otherwise emotionally unstable.
  • The alleged victim is trying to get the accused out of his or her life and believes that filing domestic violence charges will accomplish just that.
  • The alleged victim wants to keep the couple’s residence (e.g., an apartment) or wants to try and obtain the accused’s valuables, possessions, or other belongings.

Potential Defenses to California Domestic Violence Charges

When you’re accused of domestic violence, it can feel like your back is up against a wall. Fortunately, however, your lawyer may be able to raise one or more legal defenses to a domestic violence charge. Potential defenses to a domestic violence charge in California include the following:

  • Disproving the domestic violence charge – By showing that the prosecution failed to satisfy one or more of the legal elements of the domestic violence charge, the defense can disprove the charge and may be able to obtain a dismissal.
  • Self-defense – If, at the time of the incident, the accused reasonably believes that he or she is in imminent danger of death or grievous bodily harm, then the accused can take reasonable measures to defend himself or herself. Self-defense can be especially effective as a legal defense if the evidence shows that the alleged victim started the altercation which led to the injuries.
  • Defending others – If the accused harbors a reasonable belief that someone else is in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm, then he or she can take reasonable measures to defend that person. This defense is very similar to self-defense.
  • The injury was accidental – If the accused can show that he or she did not specifically intend to harm the other person and was not acting in a criminally negligent manner, then this may act as a basis for dismissal of the charge.
  • Mistaken identity – The accused may be able to show that there is a reasonable doubt as to the abuser’s true identity. This defense is especially helpful in cases where multiple people were present in the location or the lighting conditions were poor. It may also be helpful if the accused has a good alibi.

Remember, even if there are no defenses available in your case, it is important to have an attorney in order to obtain the best possible plea arrangement you can. In some cases, a lawyer may even  be able to get you into a diversionary program which, if completed successfully, will result in the charges against you being dropped – allowing you to avoid a conviction entirely.

Contact a California Criminal Defense Attorney Today to Review Your Legal Options 

Domestic violence charges – and especially convictions – can have serious and lifelong impacts for the accused. This is especially true today, as criminal background checks are common and criminal records are easily obtained online. Whether true or not, a domestic violence charge will portray you in an extremely negative light and can make it difficult for you to find and keep a job, go to school, or find a place to live.

Consequently, when it comes to domestic violence charges, a good legal defense is more important now than ever. If you are currently in the midst of domestic violence proceedings, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles or your side who can help you formulate a good defense. At The Law Offices of David S. Chesley, our legal team can review your case with you and help you do just that.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a California criminal defense attorney, please call us today at 1-800-755-5174, or contact us online.