Domestic Violence Attorney in Santa Clarita
Passionately Protecting Your Rights & Reputation
Whether you’ve been charged with a felony or a misdemeanor, it’s imperative to take a domestic violence charge seriously. A conviction can have severe and life-altering consequences in your life, making it all the more crucial to seek help from an experienced domestic violence defense attorney who can guide your legal steps and strengthen your defense.
If you or a loved one was accused of domestic violence, you may be wondering what comes next. In California, domestic violence laws can be complex and challenging to interpret. In many cases, the outcome of a domestic violence accusation is tied to other factors, such as a prior protective order or any police reports from a neighbor or witness who allegedly overheard a domestic disturbance.
The California court defines domestic violence as “abuse or threats of abuse when the alleged victim and abuser have been in an intimate relationship or are closely related by blood or marriage.” Keep in mind that domestic violence goes by many names, including:
- Domestic abuse
- Spousal abuse
- Family violence
- Relationship abuse
- Intimate partner abuse
- Domestic battery
- Spousal battery
- Intimate partner violence
Many fail to realize that a domestic violence charge doesn’t just include physical abuse (such as shoving, hitting, slapping, or biting) but also includes non-physical actions such as stalking, threats, harassment, or restricting access to finances, transportation, or a phone.
According to California state law, domestic violence can occur between married or domestic partners, a person the alleged victim is dating or used to date, a person with whom they live or used to live, or a person they share a child with.
Domestic violence charges are rarely simple. In many instances, the police are obligated to make an arrest when abuse has been reported regardless of facts or lack of evidence. If you’ve been accused of domestic violence, it’s crucial to take action as soon as possible to avoid lifechanging consequences.
Facing domestic violence charges? Turn to a defense attorney with a comprehensive understanding of California law. Call (661) 529-7011 to request your free consultation.
Penalties of a Domestic Violence Conviction
The consequences of a domestic violence conviction are dependent on the unique circumstances of your case. Factors such as your criminal record, prior arrests, or prior reports of domestic disturbance can impact the court’s decision.
Penalties are also reflective of the severity of the violence in question. At a minimum, a domestic violence conviction entails at least 3 years of probation and the completion of a court-ordered 52-week batterer's program.
Depending on the circumstances, a protective order (also referred to as a “stay-away order” or temporary restraining order) can be issued to protect the complainant from criminal threats, stalking, violence, or sexual abuse. It’s important to rely on a trusted lawyer who can help you interpret the law and prevent you from making costly mistakes if you find yourself on the other side of a protective order.
Domestic Violence Misdemeanors
Here are some basic penalties you may expect if convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor:
- Probationary period. Requirements for a probationary period are outlined in California Penal Code §1203.097.
- The issuance of a protective order. Regardless of whether the offense involved physical contact, the court will often impose a minimum “Level One” protective order to protect the complainant’s safety if you are convicted of a domestic violence charge.
- A fine. If convicted, you may be required to pay a minimum $500 fine. Additionally, §1203.097 requires a $400 payment to fund state domestic violence programs.
- Community service. If convicted, you will likely complete a certain amount of community service hours.
- Completion of a mandatory batterer’s counseling course. Successful completion is court-ordered.
- Jailtime. Those convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor may serve up to 1 year in jail.
Fortunately, the California court is unlikely to impose a harsh sentence that entails all of the above, especially if it’s the defendant’s first offense or the criminal conduct isn’t determined to be severe. In many instances, the court may decide to suspend jailtime unless the defendant violates the terms of their probation.
It’s important to fully understand the terms of your probation to avoid a harsher sentence. Probation can include additional requirements such as drug testing, counseling for substance abuse or anger management, community service hours, court-ordered education courses, and the inability to own a firearm.
Domestic Violence Felonies
The punishment for a domestic violence conviction is dependent on several factors, such as the number of total charges accrued. This can help determine whether you’ll be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. It’s imperative to know the difference between the two considering the drastic difference between the penalties involved.
A felony is considered the most serious criminal offense in California. It often entails severe penalties, such as:
- Prison time
- Loss of voting rights
- 3-5 years of probation
- 2-6 years in state prison
- The inability to own a firearm
- The inability to travel outside the U.S.
- Difficulties obtaining employment or housing due to your permanent record
When Is Domestic Violence a Felony?
There are various reasons why a domestic violence offense could result in a felony conviction, including:
- The offense involved child abuse. Child abuse is a form of domestic violence in California. As a “three strike” offense, a third offense of child abuse can result in 25 years to life in prison. However, any conviction of child abuse that involves major injury (regardless of prior offenses) can result in life in prison.
- The offense involved a deadly weapon. Weapon use (such as a firearm, knife, or other tool used to threaten or conduct violence) can elevate the domestic violence charge to a felony.
- The defendant violated a protective order. If a defendant violates the terms of a protective order or stay-away order, they may face felony charges.
- The offense caused bodily harm. If the offense resulted in corporal injury or harm to the alleged victim, the defendant may face felony charges (such as if the person was choked or strangled).
- There was a prior history or pattern of abuse. A documented history of abuse can result in a felony conviction for domestic violence. This may occur if neighbors called the police to report a domestic disturbance or if the alleged victim made a prior report documenting the abuse.
- Prior conviction(s) of a domestic violence offense. If the defendant has accrued multiple domestic violence offenses, they may be charged with a felony.
Defense Strategies for Domestic Violence Offenses
Domestic violence laws can be confusing and daunting. Rest assured that there are ways to beat domestic violence charges. Whether the allegations against you are unfounded or skewed facts were used to discredit your voice, there are various legal defense strategies that can give you the justice you rightfully deserve.
It’s essential to consult with a trusted criminal defense attorney who can help determine which legal strategy will be most effective for your case. Common legal defenses against domestic violence include:
- The act was unintentionally committed. Sometimes, a domestic violence offense isn’t the result of an attack, but an accident. An alleged victim who falls and hits their head during a heated argument cannot lawfully fault the defendant for their injury. However, this can be a tricky strategy to execute, as domestic abuse isn’t limited to physical injury. It’s vital to have an experienced attorney on your side who can help assemble and organize sufficient evidence.
- Law enforcement acted unlawfully. Mistakes are part of human nature. In some instances, an officer can make an unlawful arrest based on personal biases or lack of information. Your attorney can help review police records to ensure that the court proceedings are just and fair.
- The act was in self-defense. Maybe your partner initiated the violence and things got out of hand. Maybe the alleged violence you committed was proportionate to your partner’s initial attack. Sadly, gender can play a role in unfair biases and falsehoods. In this instance, a skilled criminal defense lawyer can help obtain and present evidence that may shed a light on potential discrimination.
- The alleged victim has ulterior motives. In some cases, the complainant may make false allegations to obtain revenge or fulfill another motive. Your lawyer can help you build and strengthen your case with appropriate evidence of this if needed.
Count on Us to Defend Your Rights Today
Our hardworking team at Lias Law Firm understands how intimidating it can be to face criminal charges. From prison time to fines to loss of your civil liberties, criminal cases can result in life-altering consequences. This is why it’s critical to secure the support of a trusted criminal defense attorney.
Antionette Lias has a successful track record defending the accused in Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley. She has trained with some of the most experienced attorneys in the criminal defense bar and understands how daunting the criminal defense system can be. Attorney Lias is here to listen to your side of the story and establish the most strategic legal approach to obtain a favorable outcome in court.
Attorney Lias personally represents each and every client that comes to her for legal aid and goes above and beyond what you’ll receive from other lawyers in the area. If you’ve been charged with a crime, don’t settle for a conviction without a fight. Choose a domestic violence defense attorney who is committed to navigating your case with compassion, transparency, and tireless advocacy.
Were you charged with a crime in Santa Clarita? It’s crucial to take immediate action to avoid lifechanging penalties. Call (661) 529-7011 today to schedule a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.