A Small Ripple Can Become a Tidal Wave
As you think back, it was all so silly. You got into a verbal disagreement with your spouse. Things got a little out of hand and the police were called because your spouse was angry, or perhaps a neighbor decided to intervene… Now you have BIG TROUBLE.
Chances are, tour partner didn’t want you to get arrested and certainly, he or she didn’t want you to be charged with a serious crime called “Domestic Violence” that could send you to jail, cost you your job, and drain your life’s savings – but here we are…
A BIG MESS – The police came into your home. They may have been a little hostile, rude and unwilling to listen to what actually happened. It happens – all the time! Your arrest was likely one of several that these officers made that same week. It is hard to blame the police – they are under outside pressure to make AN ARREST when arriving at ANY domestic violence call: legitimate or a little disagreement. Bottom Line? They arrested you and now you are facing serious criminal charges for Domestic Violence. The alleged victim may even want the charges dropped, but the prosecution will not drop the charges. That is exactly what seems to happen these days. Whether you should be —or not— you are now in serious trouble and you will be needing some competent legal representation.
Domestic Violence Arrest: What You Should Know…
Since the mid nineties, following the OJ Simpson trial, when the police go to a home to intervene in a domestic argument, invariably, someone is going to get arrested. California law requires police, absent strong justification to call it a “false alarm,” to arrest at least ONE of the parties involved in a domestic dispute before they can leave. Their job is to determine WHO was the primary aggressor and to make an arrest. That’s it! Someone is going to jail and the system can “figure it out later…” It may be unfair, overly-harsh, or “politically-correct” – but that is what is happening in every town, county and state in the United States.
Once the police have identified the primary aggressor and made an arrest, the local prosecutor becomes involved in the domestic violence case. The prosecutors often are under tremendous societal pressure to file criminal charges and aggressively prosecute a defendant even if they might personally feel that the case is trivial. They may have no negative feelings about a particular defendant, nonetheless they are compelled to proceed to trial because of internal office politics or a fear of how it might be perceived by the public if they were to drop the charges.
Can’t the “Victim” Intervene and Stop the Prosecution?
No! Before the O J Trial – sure… Since then, no way. These days, the victim has no power over the prosecutor. In fact, the prosecutor has the legal power to compel the testimony of the victim even if the victim does not want to testify. Through the power of a subpoena and the threat of a contempt charge, the prosecution will likely strong-arm the victim into testifying against you.
How Do I Protect My Rights if Charged with Domestic Violence?
There are a number of Pro-Active steps you can take to protect your rights.
First, you have a right to remain silent. Take advantage of this right: USE IT! It is NOT in your best interest to speak with the police or the prosecutor. You do have to show the officer your ID and you cannot resist your arrest, but you do not have to answer any questions about what happened or make incriminating statements that will be used against you later.
Second, contact an experienced Los Angeles County Criminal Defense Attorney who deals with California Domestic Violence as soon as possible. If you have already talked to the arresting officer(s) their arrest report will be immediately handed over to a detective for follow-up before being presented to the prosecutor – usually in the first 48-hours. This means that you have another opportunity to remain silent should the detective want to get a telephone statement from you or have your meet for a follow-up interview and statement. Be advised, that phone call will be recorded, and the officer doesn’t have to tell you so, nor read you your rights. Call an attorney. If you feel absolutely compelled to tell the detective your “story,” your attorney can do it without the story being used against you later.
While the detective has the report, this window of opportunity is the perfect time to contact an attorney! If you can have an attorney represent you while the report is still in the hands of the arresting officers or the detective – – – yet before it is submitted to the District Attorney’s Office you have an critical and time-sensitive opportunity to change the tone and severity of the report before the prosecutor sees it.
It is sometimes possible that the detective will conclude that it will not be necessary to present your case with a recommendation for prosecution if your side of the incident is presented by your attorney who knows how to work with the police. This is a critical time and offers a time-limited opportunity for you to have an attorney intervene on your behalf and present you and your version of “what happened” in the best possible light with the detective. It costs you nothing to contact an attorney for a consultation while the paperwork is still in the hands of the police.
Moreover, an attorney can explain your charges to you in detail and share with you these charges might affect you, explain your options, and then give you a candid assessment of your chances of getting the charges reduced or perhaps completely dismissed. If time has passed since your arrest, and the police have already recommended that the DA’s office file charges against you, your attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor’s office on your behalf to have the charges dismissed, reduced, or if necessary, aggressively defend your rights at trial.
Penalties for an California Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Conviction:
- Up to 5 years probation.
- Up to 1 year in county jail.
- Up to $6,250 in fines.
- A Criminal Protective (“No Contact” order) that protects you from having any contact with the victim, regardless of their wishes and yours.
- Community service.
- Mandatory counseling, typically twice per week for one year.
Penalties for an California Felony Domestic Violence Conviction:
The “soft” (non-jail) penalties for a felony domestic violence conviction are typically the same as the penalties for misdemeanor domestic violence. However, depending on the severity of the crime, and your past history, you could spend anywhere from 18-60 months in prison – or more.
Contact Attorney Nicholas Rosenberg if You Are In Trouble
If you have been arrested for domestic violence in California, I encourage you to contact me, Nicholas Rosenberg. I am a Los Angeles County Criminal Defense Attorney and have successfully defended many clients charged with domestic violence.
If you or someone you know has been (or may soon be) charged with Domestic Violence, call me at (818) 404-3363 for a free initial consultation. Early intervention is critical to a successful resolution. Nicholas Rosenberg is hired to win or get the absolute best resolution possible for your predicament.