First Offense Domestic Violence in Los Angeles
Domestic violence is the most common charge in Los Angeles criminal courts. However, most people arrested for domestic violence have no prior criminal record.
Police responding to a 911 domestic violence call do not have much discretion in whether or not to make an arrest. In other words, any call to law enforcement about an alleged domestic violence incident will typically result in someone's arrest and, in some cases, both.
When the police arrive at the scene, they will get statements from both parties while looking for any visible injuries and determining who the aggressor was.
The alleged perpetrator will be transported to jail and might be required to post bail to get released from custody, even with no criminal record. They will be given a court date to appear later.
Our law firm has provided legal representation for many people arrested for domestic violence. In some cases, they were the party that called 911 first, and the police at the scene believed they were obliged to arrest someone.
The defendant will find the court process intimidating for a domestic violence offense. So, our California criminal defense lawyers will review the most common charges related to someone being arrested for a first-time domestic violence case.
What Are the Common Type of Charges for First Offenders?
The primary distinguishing factor in all domestic violence prosecutions is whether or not the alleged victim sustained a bodily injury, and if so, what were the extent of their injuries?
Corporal Injury to a spouse
Even minor physical injury with a visible mark will often result in the filing of felony domestic violence charges under California Penal Code 273.5 PC, called corporal injury to a spouse. It's a “wobbler” that can be prosecuted as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
PC 273.5 says, “(a) Any person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim described in subdivision (b) is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to $6,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.”
Subsection (b) says this statute applies if the victim is or was one or more of the following to the offender:
- spouse or former spouse;
- cohabitant or former cohabitant;
- mother or father of their child;
- fiancé or fiancée, or
- someone with an engagement or dating relationship;
- holding oneself out to be the spouse.
If convicted of a felony, the defendant will face some time in jail. However, a first-time misdemeanor will not typically carry jail time but rather probation with terms and conditions.
In cases where no visible marks are on the alleged victim, the most common charge is California Penal Code 243(e)(1) PC, domestic battery.
A PC 243 (e)(1) prosecution does not require that the alleged victim was injured. Instead, any “offensive” touching, meaning non-consensual touching, no matter how minor, is sufficient to justify a misdemeanor prosecution.
Penal Code 243(e)(1) is a misdemeanor that exposes the defendant, if convicted, to county jail time. Other common first-offense domestic violence charges include:
- Penal Code 368 PC - elder abuse;
- Penal Code 273(a) - child endangerment;
- Penal Code 273.6 PC – violate restraining order;
- Penal Code 422 PC – criminal threats;
- Penal Code 136.1 PC – witness intimidation.
What Are the Penalties for First-Offense Domestic Violence?
In most first-offense domestic violence prosecutions, the sentence will not include significant custody time unless substantial injuries were inflicted on the victim. The most common penalties include the following:
- probation with terms and conditions;
- 52-week domestic violence counseling course;
- special $500 fine applicable only to DV cases;
- substance abuse counseling, if applicable;
- anger management classes;
- community service hours;
- prohibited from possessing a firearm;
- protective order.
Even over the victim’s objections, courts routinely issue a full no-contact stay-away order to domestic violence defendants appearing at arraignment, which is the first court date.
What Are the Best Defenses for Domestic Violence?
If you or a loved one has been arrested for domestic violence in LA county, you will need an excellent attorney to represent you. The reason is that California is one of the toughest states in the nation regarding prosecuting people for domestic violence.
Most people who get arrested will start with a $50,000 bail, and then when they appear in court, they will be ordered to stay away from their loved one while the case is pending.
This is called a criminal protective order – not to be confused with a restraining order – because it's an order by a criminal judge, and if you violate it, it's also a crime, and you can be put in jail for it.
So, you start to understand that domestic violence cases in LA are very serious business. That's why you need the best domestic violence defense attorney.
I think the first thing we need to do is verify whether or not you did something criminal. In other words, did you exert physical force against your significant other that caused an injury?
If you did that, they could prosecute you for domestic violence, as long as you don't have an available defense, for example, self-defense.
If somebody attacks you and you're defending yourself, and then that person gets hurt, you may well argue that you're innocent.
Of course, any force you use against another person in self-defense must be reasonable. In other words, if somebody slaps you, you can't use a weapon to hurt them. That would be unreasonable and go too far.
So, we've got to take it step-by-step, piece-by-piece, and figure out whether you did commit a domestic battery against your significant other, whether there was an injury, and whether it was done in such a way that it was criminal.
Review of All the Evidence
That's why the first thing we have you do is come and meet with me. We sit down and talk about your case step by step to figure out what happened and then decide whether or not the prosecutors will be able to prove a criminal case against you.
That's what the best domestic violence or spousal abuse attorneys do. They first see what type of road map we're going to take because they don't want to be fighting the case when the government ultimately has the evidence against them.
Your loved one is injured. They're now claiming you didn't do anything wrong because they want to help you, but they've already given a complete statement on the bodycam of the police officer.
That will make it very difficult to win the case if there's an injury and they've given the information on the bodycam. So, we want to assess that first. Then, once we consider that, we decide how to handle it.
If we're going to try to work out some resolution, then we're going to want to get a mitigation package together for the prosecutors right from the beginning so they can see the real you, and we can give them the other side of the story.
There's always another side of the story in a domestic violence situation, and it's something that your lawyer is best equipped and best suited to get across to the prosecutor and judge.
So, if you need the best –somebody with the complete package of experience and who has handled hundreds of domestic violence cases over the years, you've come to the right place.
Pick up the phone now. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you. The Hedding Law Firm is located in Los Angeles, California.