If you have been arrested or charged with domestic violence, then early intervention is the best course of action. California law is known to be extremely tough on domestic violence cases. This means that it takes very little evidence for you to be implicated, arrested, and/or charged with a domestic violence case. Unfortunately, domestic violence is a crime in which it is extremely common for people to be falsely accused and wrongly convicted.
The key is to try to stop the moving train, that is the government, before you are charged with domestic violence. If you hire an aggressive and experienced domestic violence attorney to conduct an extensive investigation and build your best legal defense, then it may be possible to block criminal charges before they are even filed by the prosecution. Do not wait until after domestic violence charges have been filed to start researching attorneys. If you are proactive in your defense from the moment that accusations are made, then you are protecting yourself from potential life-long consequences.
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Domestic Violence Definition
Domestic violence charges fall under two main penal codes: Corporal Injury on a Spouse PC 273.5(a) and Domestic Battery PC 243(e)(1)
Corporal Injury on a Spouse, Co-Habitant, Dating Relationship, Fellow Parent PC 273.5(a)
Corporal Injury on a Spouse, Co-Habitant, Dating Relationship, Fellow Parent
Under California Penal Code Section 273.5(a), it is a crime to inflict a corporal injury on a spouse or former spouse, cohabitant, fiancée or former fiancée, one with whom the accused has or used to have a dating relationship, or the father or mother of the accused’s child. In order to be found guilty, a person must willfully inflict a physical injury on an intimate partner and as a result, it caused a “traumatic condition” to the victim.
Many people think that a traumatic condition means that the alleged victim must go to the hospital or sustain a very serious life-threatening injury. This is not the case. Under the law, a traumatic condition is an injury, whether minor or serious, caused by the accused.
Domestic Battery PC 243(e)(1)
Under PC 243(e)(1), it is illegal to commit an unlawful touching that is harmful or offensive against a spouse or former spouse, cohabitant, fiancée or former fiancée, one with whom the accused has or used to have a dating relationship, or a fellow parent. This offense does not require the victim to sustain any type of injuries; the prosecution does not have to prove any injuries. This means that if you willfully use force that is rude or offensive against an intimate partner, then you can be facing charges of domestic battery.
Criminal or Terrorist Threats PC 422
PC 422 is another charge that often is associate with domestic violence. It is unlawful to threaten to kill or physically harm someone with the specific intent that the statement is taken as a threat. The alleged victim must be in sustained fear for his/her safety, the threat must be specific, and the threat must have been communicated verbally, in writing or via an electronically transmitted device.
Victims Can’t Drop Domestic Violence Charges
The most common misconception about domestic violence cases in California is that the alleged victim can drop the charges if he/she desires not to prosecute. Most people do not realize that the alleged victim does not dictate or control whether domestic violence charges can be filed or dropped. Once the government (i.e. law enforcement) gets involved, then the direction of the case is snatched out of the alleged victim’s hands. This means that even if an alleged victim wants the charges to be dismissed, the prosecution can still go forward with a criminal case against you regardless of the alleged victim’s requests. In fact, in most domestic violence cases, the prosecutor expects the alleged victim to recant her previous statements to the police and express a desire not to prosecute.
Legal Defenses to Domestic Violence Crimes
There are several circumstances in which you could be wrongfully accused of a domestic violence crime. Whatever the accusation may be, once an allegation is made, you must act quickly to prepare the best defense. Here are some common legal defenses to domestic violence crimes:
- Self-Defense: You were defending yourself against the alleged victim during the altercation. You are entitled to use self-defense to protect yourself when you reasonably believe that you are in imminent danger of being touched unlawfully, you reasonably believe that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend yourself, and you used no more force than was reasonably necessary to defend yourself.
- False Accusations: The alleged victim is lying or fabricating the truth for various reasons. The alleged victim could be motivated by ulterior motives such as revenge, jealousy, trying to seek an advantage in another court hearing (i.e. child custody), pressure by parents or loved ones, etc.
- No Willful Act: In order to be convicted of corporal injury on spouse or domestic battery, you must willfully use force against the alleged victim. If you can prove that you did not act willfully to injure the alleged victim, then you may have a potential legal defense.
Corporal Injury on a Spouse PC 273.5(a) Penalties
Penal Code Section 273.5 is a “wobbler” which means that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The prosecution will be looking at the extent of the injuries and whether the accused has any prior convictions or acts of domestic violence. If you have a history of domestic violence with your current partner or past partners, your criminal history can come back to haunt you. Specifically, the prosecutor may be able to use your prior history of domestic violence against you if charges are filed.
- Misdemeanor PC 273.5 punishment is up to 1 year in jail, 52 weeks of Domestic Violence Rehabilitation Program classes, criminal protective order, probation, restitution, fines, and prohibition of possessing firearms.
- Felony PC 273.5 punishment is 2, 3 or 4 years in state prison, along with 52 weeks of DV classes, criminal protective order, restitution, fines, and prohibition of possessing firearms. This punishment does not take into consideration any additional sentencing enhancements that may be used to increase punishment such as great bodily injury allegations or personal use of a weapon.
Domestic Battery PC 243(e)(1) Penalties
Unlike PC 273.5, domestic battery is a misdemeanor and it cannot be filed as a felony.
- Punishment is up to 1 year in county jail, 52 weeks of Domestic Violence Rehabilitation Program classes, criminal protective order, probation, restitution, fines, and prohibition of possessing firearms.
Criminal or Terrorist Threats PC 422 Penalties
A violation of PC 422 is a wobbler and it can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony. If filed as a felony, then it is considered a “strike” offense under California’s Three Strikes law. As you can imagine, if you are convicted of a felony PC 422 offense, you are facing some very serious consequences which can cause irreparable damage to your future.
- Misdemeanor PC 422 punishment is up to 1 year in jail, 52 weeks of Domestic Violence Rehabilitation Program classes, criminal protective order, probation, restitution, fines, and prohibition of possessing firearms.
- Felony PC 422 is 16 months, 2 or 3 years in state prison, along with 52 weeks of Domestic Violence Rehabilitation Program classes, criminal protective order, probation, restitution, fines, and prohibition of possessing firearms. This punishment does not take into consideration any enhancements that may be alleged to increase your sentence.
The Law Offices of Anna R. Yum has a long and successful track record defending against all types of domestic violence crimes including but not limited to:
- Corporal Injury on a Spouse or Co-Habitant
- Domestic Battery
- Child endangerment/abuse
- Child Neglect
- Sexual Battery
- Elder abuse
- Terrorist Threats
- Violation of a domestic violence restraining order
- Cyber Stalking
What to do if You Are Accused of Committing a Domestic Violence Crime
Do not wait to seek legal representation if you are being investigated for a domestic violence crime. We cannot stress enough the importance in retaining experienced and aggressive legal representation immediately once it has come to your attention that you are being investigated by law enforcement or if you learn that a person has accused you of committing domestic violence.
Here at the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum, we work quickly and aggressively on your behalf to prepare your best defense. It is essential to initiate the defense investigation right away so as to interview any potential witnesses, to gather evidence, to prepare you for what is yet to come in the process, and to contact the prosecution before a filing decision is made. Ms. Yum can tell you from personal experience as a former domestic violence prosecutor. It is in your best legal interest to try to “clear your name” before criminal charges are filed rather than to wait until after charges are filed in seeking a dismissal. If you hire the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum, then you are being proactive by trying to prevent charges from being filed against you and to prevent consequences that can affect you for the rest of your life.
If the prosecution does end up filing criminal charges against you, then it is time for you to prepare an aggressive defense. If you hire the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum, then you will be arming yourself with a highly experienced and aggressive legal team that will protect you, fight for you, and give you peace of mind as we navigate you through the complicated maze of what is known as the criminal justice system.
How We Can Help You
Domestic violence cases require a specialized knowledge that only comes from experience. Law books and treatises cannot teach a seasoned criminal defense attorney how to successfully defend a domestic violence charge. This is because domestic violence cases can be very complex especially when it comes to knowing the intricate evidentiary issues and how to prepare the best legal strategy depending on whether an alleged victim is cooperative with the prosecution or with the defense. Attorney Anna Yum is a seasoned criminal defense attorney with substantial experience in defending against domestic violence charges. Her vast experience comes from handling hundreds of domestic violence cases as a former prosecutor and as a defense attorney. Ms. Yum’s experience comes from conducting numerous domestic violence jury trials and also, by resolving many cases with a favorable plea before trial.
Prior to opening her law practice, Attorney Anna Yum worked specifically in the Domestic Violence unit at the District Attorney’s office. Ms. Yum handled domestic violence cases from beginning to end which means that she knows precisely what a prosecutor is reviewing and considering before making a filing decision. Ms. Yum also can easily spot the legal issues concerning the investigation, the strengths of the case, and most importantly, the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case. This invaluable experience has enabled Ms. Yum to obtain exceptional outcomes for her clients including not guilty verdicts at trial, dismissals, and favorable plea bargains with the least amount of consequences.
Defending against domestic violence crimes cases require particularized experience, comprehensive investigation, and an aggressive approach. Ms. Yum works with the best investigators, forensic psychologists, and medical experts in protecting you against serious domestic violence charges.
In domestic violence cases, the prosecution acts quickly. The alleged victim is interviewed, typically by the patrol officer and a detective who specializes in domestic violence. Percipient witnesses such as roommates, neighbors, children, or other family members are interviewed almost immediately. Photographs of any injuries of the alleged victim and/or the accused are taken right away. Because the government is moving fast to build a case against you, it is imperative that you work just as fast if not faster to protect yourself.
Here at the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum, Ms. Yum and her team work tirelessly on your behalf to help mount your defense while the prosecution is building a case against you.
If you are facing domestic violence allegations or charges, contact the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum immediately at 619-233-4433 to schedule your free and confidential legal consultation.