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Los Angeles Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys

Criminal Defense Lawyers in Los Angeles Committed to Protecting the Rights of the Accused

Domestic violence impacts many families in California, and it is a serious problem throughout the entire United States. Unfortunately, in some cases, innocent people are caught up in the criminal justice system and overzealous prosecutors pursue higher-than-appropriate charges or sentences. For this reason, anyone accused of domestic violence should call a California criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

At the Law Offices of David S. Chesley, our lawyers will review the facts of your case for free and give you our honest assessment of your case. We are dedicated to resolving cases related to domestic violence as favorably as we can and know how to negotiate plea bargains that avoid the most undesirable consequences possible. In addition, we will never shy away from taking a case to trial if it is in our client’s best interest. To schedule a free consultation with a domestic violence defense lawyer in Los Angeles, call our office today at 800-755-5174 or contact us online.

What Constitutes Domestic Violence Under California Law?

Although most people in California have an idea of what domestic violence is, the actual crime is a little more complicated than you would think. If you've been charged with a crime related to domestic violence, it's important to understand exactly what you've been charged with.

California Penal Code Section 13700 defines domestic violence and contains two key components. Section 13700(a) defines abuse as “intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, or placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to himself or herself, or another.” (Emphasis added).

There are some important details here that you should consider. First, abuse doesn't need to be intentional - it can include causing injury through reckless behavior. Second, you can be charged with abuse even if you didn't injure anyone - the mere attempt to cause injury is sufficient. Third, you can be charged with abuse if, for example, you threatened someone and made them fear for their safety.

Section 13700(b) then goes on to define domestic violence as “abuse committed against an adult or a minor who is a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or person with whom the suspect has had a child or is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship.” As you can see, domestic violence can be charged even if the victim is not the defendant’s spouse. For example, domestic violence could include the following people as victims:

  • An ex-spouse
  • A fiancé
  • A live-in girlfriend
  • Roommates who share expenses
  • An adult sibling who lives with you

Because the term “cohabitation” is somewhat vague, the statute identifies several factors that may be used to determine whether the victim was a cohabitant. These factors are as follows:

  • Whether the victim had a sexual relationship with the accused;
  • Whether the victim and the accused shared income and/or expenses;
  • Whether the victim and the accused shared the use or ownership of the property
  • Whether the victim and the accused told others they were spouses; and
  • The length and the continuity of the relationship.

Clearly, domestic violence can be charged in a broader set of circumstance than most people realize. While this allows the law to protect more people who are victims of abuse, it can also lead to instances where people are wrongly charged with this very serious crime.  If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, a criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles can evaluate your case and help you understand your options.

Penalties and other Potential Consequences

In addition to embarrassment and severe damage to your reputation, a conviction for domestic violence can carry very serious penalties. The obvious potential consequences are a permanent criminal record and possible jail time. However, there are a number of other penalties that people often aren’t aware of, such as the following:

  • Payment of fines or restitution to the victim
  • Required participation in a 52-week batterer intervention program
  • Loss of the custody of your children
  • Required compliance with a restraining order
  • Losing your right to own a gun
  • Problems with your immigration status if you are not a citizen

Domestic violence can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, which will affect the severity of the potential penalties. However, there are a variety of other factors that will determine which penalties are applied and how much jail time the prosecution may seek. Here are some of the factors that will determine the potential consequences a defendant may face:

  • The severity of the victim’s injuries
  • Whether a weapon was used
  • Whether you have a prior criminal record

In general, the circumstances surrounding the incident will be important in determining the potential consequences. However, California law does set out specific penalties for various domestic violence crimes. Here are some examples:

  1. Corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant (Penal Code 273.5):
    1. A felony punishable by imprisonment in state prison for two, three, or four years; or
    2. Imprisonment in the county jail for not more than one year; or
    3. And/or punishable by a fine of up to $6,000
  1. Domestic battery (Penal Code 243(e)(1)):
    1. Punishable by a fine that is not to exceed $2,000; or
    2. Imprisonment in the county jail for no more than a year
    3. Can qualify for probation, but penalties may also include:
      1. Payment to a woman’s shelter of up to $5,000;
      2. Payment of costs of victim’s counseling and other reasonable expenses caused by the defendant
  1. Child abuse (Penal Code 273d):
    1. A felony that is punishable by imprisonment in state prison for two, four, or six years; or
    2. Imprisonment in the county jail for up to a year; or
    3. And/or punishment of a fine of up to $6,000

Although common, probation can be very complicated and is often more burdensome than people realize. For example, probation is likely to include at least some jail time, even if it's the minimum sentence of 30 days. This can happen even if the defendant is charged with a misdemeanor and it's his or her first offense.

Non-Citizens May Face Serious Immigration Consequences

If you are a non-citizen who has been accused of a domestic violence, it is important to be aware of the fact that you may be facing immigration consequences, including difficulty obtaining citizenship down the road and even deportation. Importantly, these potential consequences should be considered when making the decision about whether to take a plea deal that requires you to plead guilty. As a non-citizen, facing domestic violence charges, you should make sure that your attorney is aware of the intersection between criminal and immigration law (often referred to as “crimmigration”) so that you’re not surprised by unexpected consequences.

Why you Need an LA Domestic Violence Defense Attorney

All of this may seem pretty straightforward, but being charged with a crime can be overwhelming. The criminal justice system is often confusing and difficult for non-lawyers to navigate. And if you are convicted, domestic violence charges can do irreparable damage to your future and your family.

You should also know that domestic violence crimes are prosecuted aggressively in California. Without a lawyer, the prosecution and the police will try to get you to admit things you don't actually have to talk about. They will try to get you to undermine your own case, and they don't have to tell you whether or not they have sufficient evidence to convict you. If you have a California defense lawyer, the prosecution and the police cannot talk to you at all unless your attorney is present.

In addition, a lawyer can help you with your defense. They may be able to argue that you were acting in self-defense or in the defense of another. Maybe these charges are based on a false accusation that grew out of some personal animosity that your ex-spouse has against you. Maybe the victim's injuries were an accident. In order to present the best defense possible, you need someone to help you understand the law and how it applies to your case

Finally, an attorney can often help negotiate a plea deal that helps you avoid the most serious consequences associated with a domestic violence charge. In many cases, we can negotiate more serious cases down to disturbing the peace or criminal trespass, which do not carry the stigma associated with domestic violence. In addition, in some instances, we can help our clients into a diversion program, which, if completed successfully, can avoid a conviction from being entered onto their record at all.

Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Consultation with a Los Angeles Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with domestic violence, you need to hire a California defense attorney as soon as possible. The lawyers at the Law Offices of David S. Chesley have over 50 years of combined experience, and they will fight for your rights and give you the best defense possible. If you would like a free consultation, call us at 800-755-5174 or email us today!

Domestic Voilence

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is one of the most commonly reported in California and every year hundreds and thousands of domestic crime cases are registered.

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Assault and Battery

Assault and battery are often charged together, but these are not interchangeable criminal offenses.

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Assault with a deadly weapon

Assault with a Deadly Weapon

Being charged with aggravated assault (also known as assault with a deadly weapon), is a serious criminal charge.

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Resisting Arrest

When a suspect is uncooperative, dismissive or verbally indignant, some officers take it personally. People who have committed no crime suddenly find themselves facing bogus criminal charges.

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Criminal Threats

A criminal threat is often referred as ‘terrorist threat’ in California even though the statute no longer uses this term to define the offense.

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Unlawful Possession of a Firearm

Unlawful Possession of a Firearm is strictly illegal.

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Recent Results

  • Multiple defendants each facing 7 years charged with smuggling prescription drugs into California from Mexico our client was the only defendant who received NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 5 years for possession of deadly weapon we negotiated a plea for NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 3 life terms for multiple felony counts of Child Molestation and Sodomy with child we proved the charges were fabricated by victims mother DISMISSAL of all charges at preliminary hearing!

  • Strike case: Client charged with possession of methamphetamine facing 25 years we filed a Romero Motion which was granted case REDUCED TO MISDEMEANOR!

  • Client's estranged girlfriend alleged Client broke into her room and choked her facing 14 years in State Prison we won at trial JURY ACQUITTAL.

  • Police allegedly discovered 3 bags of marijuana in client's glove box faced 6 years we filed a 1538.5 motion to suppress resulting in DISMISSAL of all charges!

  • Client allegedly sold rock cocaine to undercover officer faced 10 years following our argument client received NO JAIL TIME!

  • Client facing 15 years for Armed Robbery we proved misidentification Judge DISMISSED the case!

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