Los Angeles County prosecutors and law enforcement officers have recently increased their efforts to enforce California's laws on domestic violence offenses. In fact, prosecutors have found themselves under pressure to obtain convictions and there has been a lot of domestic violence cases filed in spite of the fact there were significant evidentiary issues with the case.
With the increased enforcement, it has become crucial to retain a criminal defense lawyer early in the court process who has a thorough understanding on how to effectively prepare a defense strategy that has the best chance for a favorable outcome.
In most domestic violence cases, there are numerous legal defenses that can be used to achieve a best possible outcome. It might even be possible to negotiate with the prosecutor for lesser charges or even a case dismissal.
Clearly, the first step in preparing a defense is to tell a criminal attorney all the facts and circumstances surrounding your case. In other words, what exactly happened? Why are you being accused and arrested for domestic violence? What are the police and prosecutors claiming you did?
Based on the information you provide, we can will have a much better idea of how exactly to approach defending you against the case. To give readers a better understanding of common domestic violence defenses in Los Angeles, our California criminal defense attorneys are providing an overview below.
Victim Can't Drop Domestic Violence Cases
We are often asked what happens if my spouse doesn't want to press domestic violence charges against me? Can the district attorney still prosecute? Could I still be convicted?
It should be noted an alleged victim of domestic violence can't drop the charges. Under California law, this decision is out of their hands in domestic violence cases and the final decision maker is the Los Angeles District Attorney.
Based on the nature of the relationship between the alleged domestic violence victim and a defendant, there is a natural tendency for a victim to have mixed feelings about their spouse being charged with a crime.
Thus, California law doesn't allow a victim to have any discretion on the issue of whether or not to file formal charges. After police are called and domestic violence allegations have been made, then only the district attorney has the authority to decide if charges are filed or dropped.
With this fact in mind, let's turn our attention to the most common defenses against domestic violence charges in Los Angeles criminal courts.
Self-Defense Argument in Domestic Violence
When Los Angeles law enforcement officers respond to the scene of a domestic violence call, they are required to make quick decisions on often complicated circumstances. In fact, there are many police departments that require their officers to arrest at least one person when they are responding to an alleged domestic violence incident.
This means they frequently believe the person who made the call, which is most cases is the female. Police will also attempt to quickly determine if there are any visible injuries and will use this information to justify an immediate arrest.
However, these often chaotic and stressful situations are normally more complicated. In many cases, a domestic violence defendant might have been acting in self-defense when they used physical force on their spouse.
However, to have a valid self-defense claim means any defendant will have to be able to prove there was a reasonable belief of immediate harm of being injured or unlawfully touched.
Further, they will also have to show there was a reasonable belief that using force was necessary to prevent the harm, and no more force was used other than what was necessary. In other words, someone is allowed to use force in order to protect themselves, even in a domestic violence situation.
Also, many domestic violence cases involve mutual combat between spouses, meaning the victim and defendant were involved in assaulting one another. It can often be difficult to determine the primary aggressor and whether someone was acting in self-defense. We might also be able to argue the injury was not caused by a willful act, but rather was an accidental injury.
False Allegation Defense
Many domestic violence incidents are highly stressful events where one or both spouses are highly emotional. While one spouse is giving information to a 911 operator, or police officers who respond to the scene, they often exaggerate the details, or even make false accusations during the heat of the incident. It's not uncommon for alleged domestic violence victims to deeply regret their statements later.
It's also not uncommon for alleged victims to falsely accuse their spouse of domestic violence during a bitter divorce or child custody battle in a family law court because they believe it can be used to their advantage.
In a situation where you have been falsely accused of domestic violence, we can highlight inconsistencies in their statements, or even prove they are false. Our defense team can conduct an independent investigation to show how the alleged victim had a motive to lie. There have been cases where the victim eventually admitted they were not honest with the police.
If we are successful in casting reasonable doubt on the accuracy of the alleged victim's allegations, the prosecutor might be willing to reduce the charges or even dismiss the case. On a similar note, we might be able to argue there is insufficient evidence to prove the domestic violence case beyond a reasonable doubt.
If we can show there not enough evidence you committed the crime, then you have a good chance at avoiding a conviction. We might be able to present evidence or witnesses that will exonerate you during cross-examination of the prosecutor's witnesses.
Prefiling Intervention Defense
Prefiling intervention is a process of negotiating with law enforcement and the prosecutor to get the case dropped. In many Los Angeles domestic violence cases, there are uncooperative alleged victims or those with significant motivation to exaggerate or outright make false allegations.
An effective presentation by a criminal defense lawyer on the issues of proof along with substantial mitigating factors about our client's character and background often result in the charges being dropped before court, reduce a felony to misdemeanor, or even handled informally through the office hearing process.
Immediate intervention by our law firm once a police report or arrest is made is the best legal defense strategy to avoid the expense and risk of a formal court filing.
Even in a situation where formal charges have been filed, effective legal representation by our firm is key to obtaining the best outcome. We have learned that the presentation of mitigation factors early in the process can help secure no-jail settlements and reduced offenses.
There are domestic violence situations where the prosecutor wants to avoid dealing with a victim who changed their initial statement to law enforcement. This means they are normally open to negotiate a favorable settlement.
Common Los Angeles Domestic Violence Charges
Penal Code 243(e)(1) - Domestic Battery Penal Code 273.5 - Corporal Injury to a Spouse Penal Code 422 – Criminal Threats Penal Code 273.6 - Violating a Restraining or Protective Order Penal Code 273a - Child Endangerment Penal Code 273d - Child Abuse Penal Code 368 - Elder Abuse Penal Code 136.1 - Witness Intimidation
In Los Angeles County, police and the criminal courts act swiftly to all allegations of abusive situations in a home.
Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney
If you have been arrested for domestic violence, you need to review your case with a criminal defense lawyer who has experience handling these type of cases and knows the most effective defense strategies.
We are former Los Angeles County prosecutors and with a track record of success defending individuals charged with any type of domestic violence related crime. As stated, timing is crucial and early intervention into your domestic violence case and make a huge impact on the outcome of the case.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a law firm devoted exclusively to criminal defense. We are located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067. We are also located in the San Fernando Valley at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401. Contact us for a consultation at (310) 328-3776.