Judge Issuing a Protective Order

The Van Nuys Court handles much domestic violence and spousal abuse cases. The terms spousal abuse or domestic violence are used interchangeably. It has to do with somebody committing some battery against a partner. This includes a boyfriend/girlfriend, husband/wife, wife/wife, husband/husband – it doesn't matter. It has something to do with someone committing a crime against someone they're with. Even with family members, I see domestic violence cases filed where a father hits a daughter or siblings attack each other.

These domestic violence cases in Van Nuys Courthouse are handled very seriously. If it's a felony case, it will be in Division 100. Division 100 handles all the felonies in the Van Nuys court. If it's a misdemeanor case, it will be in Division 101. Those courts are right near each other on the third floor of the Van Nuys courthouse. I've dealt with hundreds of these cases for the last twenty-five years in the Van Nuys courthouse. These are real severe cases to deal with because there're a lot of ramifications that are involved.

Protective Orders in Domestic Violence Cases

The first thing a judge is going to do and a prosecutor is going to ask for in a domestic violence case – take a situation where a wife accuses a husband of battering her – when the attorney goes in there, the judge is going to order at the end of the hearing, in addition to dealing with bail and setting a new court date – the judge in these domestic violence cases is going to order a protective order and tell the husband that he has to stay 100 yards away from the wife while the case is pending.

When there's a conviction in these cases, the stay-away protective order lasts for a three-year or five-year probationary period. So, these protective orders are the first things that need to be dealt with in domestic violence cases in the Van Nuys court. We can often get the wife to come in and tell the prosecutor; I don't want to have a complete protective order. This guy is living with me. We've been together for a long time. We have kids in common. He has a job. He pays the bills. He supports me.

So, we're able to get that taken care of where it's a level one protective order in a domestic violence case, allowing the parties to be together while the case is pending. But if the wife doesn't show up and doesn't say anything, then this is the strange thing about these domestic violence cases – the protective order is automatically issued.

If you violate one of those protective orders and the police catch you, you'll be prosecuted again. They'll charge you with a new case. They might up your bail. There're all sorts of things that can happen. So, the first thing to deal with is the protective order.

I've been practicing in the Van Nuys courthouse for approximately 30 years. I've done hundreds of domestic violence cases, charged as misdemeanors or felonies. Kind, the dividing line between a misdemeanor and a felony, is:

  • the person has a prior domestic violence case which would move the case up to a felony, or
  • there's a real severe injury that would move the case up to a felony.

Otherwise, it's going to be charged as a misdemeanor. Often, I see people get arrested, and they have to post a $50,000.00 bail.

Domestic Violence Defense in the Van Nuys

They get a court date, and the police have marked on their paperwork that they're booked for a felony.  That doesn't necessarily mean they will be charged with a felony.

Just because the police decide to book somebody for a felony and make them post the $50,000.00 doesn't necessarily mean the prosecutors will see it that way.

You want to get a criminal defense attorney on your side right away –someone like me with a lot of experience so we can try to make sure that you do not get charged with a felony because that would be a much more difficult situation than being accused of a misdemeanor. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will review more closely below.

Common California Domestic Violence Charges

Stay-Away Order

As far as the ins and outs go, you'll want to get an attorney there when you first appear in court because the judge will often try to put conditions on you while the case is pending.

For example, they may order that you stay away from the alleged victim.  That's a massive problem for many people because they live with the alleged victim, which effectively causes them to be kicked out of their homes. We have some strategies for dealing with that so that you don't get kicked out of your home, or if complete protective order is issued, some things can be done to deal with that.

Setting Bail in a Van Nuys Domestic Violence Case

The next thing to deal with is the bail. Most times in these domestic violence cases, they're setting the bail at $50,000.00, and that's a felony bail, but a lot of times when you get to court, it's filed as a misdemeanor. It's still a serious situation, but a $50,000.00 bail is not a misdemeanor. It's a felony bail.

The next thing to deal with is how you will maneuver the case to the Van Nuys court system. These domestic violence cases have to be handled the right way. You want to get in front of a prosecutor or judge who you know the tendencies of and who will be fair in these spousal abuse or domestic violence cases.

The only way to gauge that is because you probably haven't been down this road before. You don't know the Van Nuys court system and how they deal with domestic violence cases is your attorney.

Determining a Defense Strategy

This is why I get you in the office. We sit down from the beginning. We decide what our strategy is going to be. Are we going to fight the case all the way? Are we going to try to do damage control and resolve the case? These are questions that have to be answered right from the beginning. We have to sit down and look at all the paperwork in the case, any videos, and pictures of injuries, and then use our common sense and decide the best way to handle this domestic violence case.

We have to decide so that we know how the Van Nuys courthouse will deal with the case. In other words, if they're going to set the case for trial, what will they do if their witness does not show up? What are they going to do if the witness is not cooperative? You have to know how the prosecutors handle these domestic violence cases, and you have to see how the judges will take it.

The only way you're going to figure that out is through the representation of a defense lawyer who has handled hundreds of domestic violence cases over the course of my twenty-five-year career; I can give you a feel for what you're looking at, what you're facing and how these prosecutors might deal with your domestic violence case.

That's the first thing you have to look at.  The second thing you have to look at is you've got to decide whether or not you did anything wrong and whether the police/prosecutors can prove that you did anything wrong.

Because if you're guilty of a domestic violence case, then you're faced with the issue of figuring out what the punishment is going to be and what you're going to do to effectively defend yourself and help yourself and make the right moves as it relates to your domestic violence case.

Once we figure out whether it's a situation where you're going to say that you're innocent or guilty, we figure out if you will go to trial and what evidence we need to defend you. If you're going to try to work out a resolution because that's in your best interest because they've got evidence against you, then we're going to figure out how to deal with that.

No matter what we decide, we're probably going to put together a mitigation package on your behalf with character letters and other things that make sense to mitigate your case. This includes either getting a reduced charge or keeping you out of jail — whatever we decide is the right thing to do based on what you're charged with, your criminal record, and what happened in your case.

Prefiling Intervention Defense

Prefiling intervention is a legal process of negotiating with law enforcement and the prosecutor in an attempt to get the case dropped, known as a “DA reject.” Put simply; this is a negotiation to prevent the formal filing of criminal charges in the first place. In many domestic violence cases in LA County, uncooperative victims or people with perceived motivation to exaggerate or outright make false allegations.

Thus, effective presentation by a criminal defense attorney related to issues of proving the case along with substantial mitigating factors about the defendant's character and background could potentially result in:

  • the charges being dropped before court,
  • reduce a felony to a misdemeanor, or
  • even handled informally through the office hearing process.

This means that immediate intervention by our law firm after a police report or arrest is often made the best legal defense strategy to avoid the expense and risk of a formal court filing.

Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney

If you are in a situation where formal charges have already been filed, aggressive legal representation by our firm could be the key to obtaining the best outcome. We know from experience that the presentation of mitigation factors early in the process often helps secure no-jail settlements and reduce the charges to a lesser offense.

There are some situations where the prosecutor wants to avoid dealing with an alleged domestic violence victim who changed their initial statement to law enforcement. In the right circumstances, prosecutors could be open to negotiating a favorable settlement.

So, you've come to the right place.  I know how to answer questions and deal with domestic violence cases.  Pick up the phone.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.

Get to somebody who knows how to deal with these cases, who knows how to defend these cases, and who knows what it takes to get you a successful result. We need to review all the case details to determine an appropriate defense strategy. Hedding Law Firm is a Los Angeles-based criminal defense law firm, and we offer a free case consultation at 213-542-0940 or by filling out our contact form.