Posting Bail in a Domestic Violence Case
These cases are filed every day, and people are scared. They've been arrested. Usually, what we see is that you have to post a $50,000 bail to get out—the police check on the appropriate box that you are booked for a felony.
Many people think they've been charged with a felony because of the bail and because the police are checking the felony box. The reality is the police can't charge anybody with anything. They don't have the authority to do so. What ends up happening is, they may book you for a felony and check that box, make you post a $50,000 bail, which is just them answering to a higher power.
They say because there are so many issues with domestic violence cases in Los Angeles, we're going to make it a $50,000 bail to let the person cool off for a while and show them how serious we're going to take these domestic violence cases.
So, once that bail is posted, you're going to end up going to court, and the prosecutors are the ones who decide whether the case is going to be filed first, and then they determine if it's going to be filed as a felony or a misdemeanor. So, don't despair. You've been booked for a felony; it doesn't necessarily mean you'll be charged a felony.
The most common domestic violence charges are domestic battery under California Penal Code 243(e)(1) and corporal injury to a spouse under Penal Code 273.5. Domestic battery (CALCRIM 841) is always a misdemeanor, but a corporal injury to a spouse (CALCRIM 840) is a “wobbler,” meaning the case can be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will review this topic further below.
Level of Injuries and Prior Convictions
When we say what to expect, they will look at the case and see how bad the injuries are. That's the number one thing in deciding whether to file the case as a felony or a misdemeanor. They'll also look to see if you have any prior domestic violence on your record. If you do, that will make it a lot more likely that the case will be filed as a felony, although not necessarily for sure.
So, those are the two big things to consider: whether there are terrible injuries and whether or not the person has a prior conviction for domestic violence. That will be the significant deciding factor for the prosecutors on whether they will file the case as a felony or a misdemeanor.
Domestic Violence Court Process
The next thing you have to worry about in the court process — when we talk about Los Angeles, this includes the San Fernando Valley, Van Nuys Court, San Fernando Court, and some of the outer-lying courts.
These also include Glendale court, Burbank Court, Pasadena court — all these courts you're going to go in for the arraignment. The judge will set the bail, and also, the judge can put any parameters, like for example, one of the big ones that people have to deal with in this Valley courts is a full stay away — keep away from the person 100 yards.
A lot of times people are married and living together, so the person has a $50,000 bail, they bail out, they get to be with that person unless the person seeks an emergency protective order or restraining order, they can go back home if here's no order saying they can't.
So, now they're with their loved one for thirty days and go to court, and what happens is the judge routinely is issuing a complete protective order. They're ordering the person charged with the domestic violence crime to stay 100 yards away from the alleged victim in the case.
If you live with the person, you're now kicked out of the house. Suppose you have children with the person, that impacts your parental rights. So, I have some strategies for dealing with this because it is relatively new that they're doing a full protective order.
They've always put what's called a level one protective order in a place where you'd just be ordered not to strike, molest, harass, stalk the other party, but you could co-existence with them, as long as they came to court and said they wanted you to be back together with them. Now they just routinely and automatically put that full protective order.
Some of the things I've used to combat are having the person start the domestic violence program right from the beginning and having a number of those under their belt as they go into that first arraignment. Maybe do some counseling with the other party, and there are several other things that I will discuss at the meeting when you come to my office. We go over everything and get our strategy together moving forward.
So as you can see, that's just a little taste of the process of a domestic violence case. There's a whole host of other factors to consider that aren't going to be covered in this section, like, for example, are you going to make a deal or are you going to go to trial? What type of punishment are you looking at for these domestic violence cases if you make a deal? So, these are all things that I discuss face to face in my office.
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I put my 26 years of experience to bear on your problem, and I don't like to talk about these things because you really can't generalize them. A whole host of factors go into what you end up with punishment-wise in a domestic violence case.
For example, what's your criminal record? How bad are the injuries? What are the circumstances of the case? There is a whole plethora of things that prosecutors and judges look at. Of course, they're going to look at you and your circumstances, and that's going to be up to your domestic violence defense attorney to argue on your behalf to get the best possible resolution.