In the state of California, domestic violence is a very serious legal matter. Whether you are the victim of domestic violence, or have been charged with a domestic violence complaint, it is essential that you understand the various factors that will influence your case. The Law Office of Bradley R. Corbett is experienced in offering legal counsel and defense for cases of San Diego domestic violence and abuse. Don’t take the risk of attempting to defend your case on your own.
What is Domestic Violence?
The first step in determining your best course of action in a domestic violence case is to have a solid understanding of what domestic violence is and what it isn’t. The first aspect of domestic violence cases is the relationship between the plaintiff and the defendant. In California, a domestic relationship is defined by CA Penal Code §273.5 as one where the victim is or was one or more of the following:
- The offender’s spouse or former spouse
- The offender’s cohabitant or former cohabitant
- The offender’s fiancé or fiancée, or someone with whom the offender has, or previously had, an engagement or dating relationship (as defined in paragraph  of subdivision [f] of Section 243.)
- The mother or father of the defendant’s child
If none of these conditions are met, the domestic violence charges cannot apply. However, it is of course still unlawful for any person to inflict violent injury on another.
Any of the following actions are considered to be domestic abuse if the above conditions are met:
- Intentionally or recklessly to cause or attempt to cause bodily injury
- Sexual assault
- To place a person in reasonable apprehension of imminent bodily injury to that person or to another
Behavior that has been or could be enjoined pursuant to Penal Code § 6320 can also be classified as domestic abuse, including molesting, attacking, striking, stalking, threatening, sexually assaulting, battering, harassing, telephoning, destroying personal property, or disturbing the peace of the other party.
In addition, child abuse (Penal Code §273d), child endangerment (Penal Code §273a), elder abuse (Penal Code §368) and criminal threats (Penal Code §422) all constitute domestic violence in California.
Domestic Violence Defense
Unfortunately, many people are wrongfully accused of domestic violence, particularly when heated child custody and divorce battles are also in the picture. If you’ve been wrongfully accused of domestic violence, an experienced domestic violence lawyer can help you take control of the situation and secure your future.
When choosing legal representation, it’s important to hire a lawyer who has familiarity with the local courts. Bradley Corbett is one of the best San Diego domestic violence attorneys, and has won domestic violence cases in every courtroom in San Diego County.
As explained above, a domestic violence complaint must meet the relationship and injury requirements in order to hold up in court. If the complaint meets both of these requirements, there is still hope for the defendant.
Two of the most common defenses for domestic violence cases are self-defense and de minimis infractions. Self-defense justifies the use of physical force against the plaintiff. When the defendant can make the case that their use of force was necessary to protect themselves against the plaintiff’s use of unlawful physical force, the argument can be successful.
De minimis infractions assert that the physical injuries being presented to the court are too minor and trivial to be considered a criminal offense.
Before the trial begins, a domestic violence attorney will complete a “discovery,” wherein they obtain copies of all documents and evidence the plaintiff plans to use against the defendant. If the plaintiff has sought out a temporary restraining order (TRO—see above for further explanation), it is in the defendant’s best interest to seek out a transcript of that hearing, as they likely were not present.
If you have been accused of domestic violence, it is essential that you abide by any court-issued restraining orders that proceed a full trial, even if you have been wrongfully accused.
Domestic Violence Lawyer for Victims
Whether you have been accused of domestic violence or you’re filing domestic violence charges as a victim, it’s important to find the right domestic abuse attorney for your case.
If you’re a victim (plaintiff) of domestic violence, there are several things a domestic violence attorney will assist you with as you prepare for trial. The main objectives of your trial will likely involve obtaining a restraining order from your abuser and securing protective custody rights for any children you may have with the defendant.
For the plaintiff, the first step of a domestic violence case is to obtain a temporary restraining order (TRO) from the court. The order may be received ex parte, meaning the plaintiff may seek the TRO from the court without notifying the defendant. If the evidence of abuse is deemed sufficient, the court will grant the victim a TRO, which will be served to the defendant within 24 hours of the hearing. These orders typically expire within 10 to 20 days, after which the victim must file a complaint for domestic violence and proceed to a full trial.
To prepare for a full domestic violence trial, the victim must compile a number of documents, including:
- All medical records and reports related to any physical injury that resulted from domestic violence
- A list of witnesses that could be called upon during trial
- Evidence of abuse, such as photographs of injury, audio or video recordings, and expert reports
The more information the victim can gather, the more favorable the potential trial outcome. An experienced attorney can assist the victim in gathering the necessary information and working to ensure the most favorable outcome for the victim’s safety.
In addition to providing evidence of the crime, the victim may also choose to seek out financial support. In this case, they must be prepared to testify of all financial needs (rent, childcare, food, insurance) as well as all financial assets available to both parties. An attorney will help you gather as much of the supporting documentation as possible, including tax returns and pay stubs.
Outcomes of Domestic Violence Cases
There are several possible outcomes for domestic violence cases. If the defendant is found guilty of domestic violence, the primary goal of the plaintiff is to seek protection for their self and any children from the abuser. This usually comes in the form of a permanent restraining order (which usually lasts up to three years) and loss of child custody for the abuser.
In more severe cases, a criminal protective order or “stay-away” order may be issued which lasts for 3 years after the case is over. Additionally, the victim may seek out emergency family maintenance funds to assist in leaving the abusive situation.
Both nationally and locally in San Diego, there is an abundance of resources available for domestic violence victims. These resources and organizations play an important role in helping victims recover and return to their daily lives.
California Domestic Violence Penalties
For the defendant, being found guilty in a domestic violence case is a very serious matter. Most counties in California require a minimum of 30 days in jail and three years of probation, even for first-time offenders. Additionally, almost all guilty defendants are required to complete a 52-week batterer’s program and pay a $400 fee to fund domestic violence program. By statute, defendants can face up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine for a domestic violence misdemeanors.
Defendants convicted of a domestic violence felony can be held responsible to pay for hospital bills, and are subject to several years of probation and even a prison term, based on the severity of the victim’s injuries.
Additionally, in California a domestic violence charge becomes a part of one’s permanent record, making it difficult to find employment and housing.
This is why it’s so important to find the right attorney for your case. As a San Diego domestic violence lawyer, Bradley has won “Not Guilty” verdicts in every courthouse in San Diego County. Whether you’ve been falsely accused or have been charged with a crime, we can help. We can help you take control of your future by fighting back against those that want to see you in jail.
Domestic Violence Facts and Statistics
Regardless of trial outcomes, it’s important for everyone to acknowledge that domestic violence is a serious problem, both nationally and within our San Diego communities. Both men and women can be victims of domestic violence, while children and the elderly are especially vulnerable to abuse.
In the United States, one in four women (24.3%) and one in seven men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been or will be the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. Here are some important statistics to consider:
- On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States—more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year
- IPV (Intimate Partner Violence) resulted in 2,340 deaths in 2007—accounting for 14% of all homicides. Of these deaths, 70% were females and 30% were males
- The medical care, mental health services, and lost productivity (e.g., time away from work) cost of IPV was an estimated $8.3 billion in 2003 dollars for women alone
- 15 million children are exposed to domestic violence every year
Domestic violence is also a significant issue in San Diego. The San Diego Domestic Violence Council reports:
- An estimated one out of every four children in California is directly exposed to violence as a victim or witness
- On any given day in San Diego, 531 women and children need shelter
- 21,000 domestic violence calls and cases are reported to law enforcement in 2004
- Over 5,600 calls to the domestic violence hotline are made annually
Chances are, a friend, neighbor, or loved one in your life has been a victim of domestic violence.
San Diego Domestic Violence Resources
If you are in an abusive or violent situation, know that there are resources available to help you find a way out. While researching your options, please be cautious and use a computer or phone that your abuser does not have direct or remote access to, such as a computer in a public library or at a trusted friend’s house. Always clear your internet history after searching for domestic violence resources.
If you are in an emergency or in immediate danger, call 911. For domestic abuse guidance, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit www.ndvh.org. For rape and sexual violence, call the National Sexual Hotline at 1-800-656-4673 or visit www.rainn.org.
If you or a loved one are trying to leave an abusive situation in the San Diego area, contact the Family Justice Center of San Diego for support (866-933-4673). Additionally, the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office offers several victim services, including crisis intervention, referral assistance, property return assistance, employer notification, and court support.
Additionally, the following organizations offer shelter and other victim advocacy resources in the San Diego area:
- Becky’s House
- Center for Community Solutions
- Community Resource Center
- Crisis House
- South Bay Community Services
- Women’s Resource Center
- YWCA of San Diego County
Together, we can work towards greater awareness, protection, and prevention in our community.
If you are facing a domestic violence trial in San Diego, the Law Offices of Bradley Corbett will work tirelessly to get you the best possible outcome. Contact our expert criminal defense team today for your free case consultation.