When it comes to domestic violence criminal cases, these cases are taken very seriously by prosecutors and judges alike. Therefore, coming up with ideas for the best defenses is crucial in successfully dealing with a domestic violence case you have pending in one of the criminal courts.
In California, some of the most common charges that are related to domestic violence include the following:
- Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC - Domestic Battery,
- Penal Code 273.5 PC - Corporal Injury to a Spouse,
- Penal Code 422 PC – Criminal Threats,
- Penal Code 273a PC - Child Endangerment,
- Penal Code 273d PC - Child Abuse,
- Penal Code 368 PC - Elder Abuse,
- Penal Code 136.1 PC - Witness Intimidation,
- Penal Code 273.6 PC - Violating a Restraining or Protective Order.
I've been handling these cases now for 30 years. I started working for the prosecutors, then a judge, and finally, in the early 1990s, I became a criminal defense attorney.
I've handled thousands of domestic violence-related offenses, so I think I have some excellent ideas that can be utilized to help you successfully deal with a case you might have pending.
These ideas are not applicable in every case. That's why it's crucial to get an attorney like me to sit down with them and review your case's facts so you can see what ideas, strategies, and angles might work for you. Our California criminal defense lawyers will examine this topic in more detail below.
Did the Alleged Victim Have a Motive to Lie?
One idea in a domestic violence case is that the alleged victim often has a motive to lie about the case. Sometimes, they're seeking a divorce.
Maybe something is underlying that's going on, and they want to get an advantage in that divorce, so if they make up allegations that a person abused them, hit them, struck them, or whatever the case may be, they can successfully get a criminal conviction and a protective order.
They can also then file for a domestic violence restraining order. They can try to get a divorce, and they'll be able to have a lot of success in the divorce case if they get that criminal conviction, they can get that domestic violence restraining order issued against the other side.
So, that's one angle or idea used against people. But if you can convince the prosecutor and the judge in the criminal case that:
- they don't have a good case,
- the only reason this was brought up in the first place is if the other person has a motive to lie,
- alleged victim is trying to misuse the criminal justice system.
Now, you have an idea you can use to defend the case successfully.
Was the Alleged Victim the Aggressor?
Of course, another idea and another thing that I see happening is that the alleged victim often precipitates these violent situations.
In other words, I see a lot of times where the other person has attacked my client, and in defending themselves, the other person gets injured and calls the police, or a neighbor, for example, calls the police.
Of course, the person who is the victim now wants to tell the police they didn't do anything wrong. It was the other party's fault because they didn't want to be arrested.
I can tell you right now, when the police come out to a domestic violence scene, if they see somebody's been injured or both parties are injured, somebody's going to jail. So, nobody wants to be the person going to jail, so that's an incentive for that person to lie.
What Are the Most Common Mistakes?
For those people who have been arrested and charged with domestic violence, you don't want to make these common mistakes because they typically either put you in a worse position or make sure that a criminal case will get filed against you, such as the following:
- The first common mistake that I see being made in these domestic violence cases is the person causing more trouble after they've been arrested and released on a $50,000 bail. They're still having issues with their significant other.
- Another common mistake is that people think that because their significant other has changed their mind and doesn't want them prosecuted, the case is over – they can stick their heads in the sand, and everything will go away. This, of course, is a foolish thought and will not happen.
If you hit or hurt your significant other and there is apparent injury, I can tell you right now that the case is not going to go away just because your significant other says they want it to. This is a common thing that happens in these cases.
In 80% of the cases, prosecutors have to grapple with the alleged victim either saying they don't want the person prosecuted or attempting to change their story somehow. This is something they already know. If the case is a good case for them, and they believe the person committed domestic violence against their significant other, then they're going to prosecute it.
Don't forget, the police have bodycams. They will be able to testify to whatever was said, and most likely, it will be captured on video anyway. Hence, prosecutors are likelier to believe that version of events than later.
You've got to get an attorney ready to fight for you. Just to give you one example, a lot of times, I see a husband and wife get in a situation where the husband gets a domestic violence charge against them. They live together. They have kids together. The husband is the breadwinner. They go to court for the first time, and the judge orders the husband out of the house and to stay a hundred yards away from the alleged victim.
This is a massive problem because where is the husband supposed to go? Now, he is going to be separated from his kids. This is one small example that you've got to have an attorney well before you go to court to anticipate some of the problems that might come up in your specific case, to see if anything can be done to deal with those problems so you're ready when the court case comes up, and you make the right moves.
Does the Physical Evidence Support the Victim's Claims?
So, if you can show the prosecutor, as a defense attorney, that this person is saying all of this stuff because they didn't want to get arrested. What they say often doesn't match the other available physical evidence.
Again, I can't tell you how many times I had a wife claiming that her 200+ pound husband punched her in the face multiple times, and there's no mark on her face.
So, you look at the prosecutor and say, I don't understand. How are you allowing this person to make this claim? You're charging a criminal case against my client, and the injuries don't match their claim. That's another way to have a defense, which is to say, look:
- I was defending myself, or
- this person has made up a bunch of allegations and
- the physical evidence doesn't match what they're claiming.
Is Negotiation with the Prosecutor Possible?
Yes. The final idea I would have is, if there is good evidence that you're guilty, you want to get the best criminal defense attorney that you can because now you want to negotiate:
- You want to try to avoid jail time;
- You want to avoid the worst possible crime they can charge you.
They can charge whatever crime they want when it comes to these domestic violence cases, and sometimes they're willing to give a lower charge if you don't have a criminal record or if there are minor or no injuries.
So, again, these ideas make sense depending on the case's facts and circumstances. I've had other instances in which my client has a prior conviction for a domestic violence case, and now they have a new domestic violence case, and they're being charged with a felony.
They don't want a felony on their record. They don't want to face prison time, so now we have to come up with ideas on how to deal with that.
We need to figure out how to look back on the other case to show it wasn't as severe as the prosecutors are making it seem and, of course, look at the current case and see if any significant injuries warrant a felony filing.
So, there's a lot to be concerned about. Many ideas can be used to help you, but of course, I've got to know the facts and circumstances of your case.
So, if you want the best, you've come to the right place. Don't settle for anything less. Don't settle for one of these young attorneys fresh out of a lawsuit with no experience.
Hire someone who has been doing it for 30 years, is battle-tested, and has succeeded in domestic violence defense. Pick up the phone now and ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. The Hedding Law is located in Los Angeles County, California. We offer a free case consultation by phone or use the contact form.