If you’ve been charged with domestic violence, you may be worried about what’s at stake and what happens next. A conviction carries significant consequences, including potential jail time, fines, mandatory participation in educational/rehabilitative programs, loss of child custody, loss of gun ownership rights, and social stigma. Indeed, even if you are not convicted, accusations of domestic violence can ruin your reputation and perhaps even cost you your job.
For these and other reasons, it’s important to understand what you may be up against and seek the help of an experienced San Francisco, California domestic violence lawyer from The Morales Law Firm who can help you resolve your charges as favorably as possible. If you’ve either been charged with domestic violence or accused of this behavior and you’re worried about being arrested, don’t wait to connect with a domestic violence lawyer San Francisco, CA residents trust. Call now to better ensure that your rights are protected moving forward.
Domestic violence includes threats as well as actions
Physically harming an intimate partner or family member is well understood to qualify as domestic violence. But it is important to know that threatening violence also qualifies as a crime under most statutes. In some jurisdictions, it is also considered domestic violence when the perpetrator makes non-violent physical contact with the victim in a manner that is understood to be provocative or offensive. In short, bruises and cuts are not the baseline of what constitutes domestic violence. The definition is much broader.
Relationships differentiate domestic violence from battery
Inflicting or threatening violence against someone would normally be classified as “battery” (or assault and battery, depending on where you live). Domestic violence involves those elements, but it is its own class of crime because it involves violence in the context of intimate relationships.
Which relationships qualify? It’s important not to make any assumptions about your specific situation before you’ve connected with an experienced San Francisco, CA domestic violence lawyer. Exceptions to general rules may apply in your situation. With that said, in many cases, domestic violence is considered violence between the perpetrator and:
- A spouse or former spouse
- A partner in a dating/romantic relationship
- A co-parent or person with whom one shares a child
- The perpetrator’s children or step-children
- Someone who lives in the same home (even a non-related roommate)
Common Defenses To Criminal Charges
Family relationships can be complex, and what police officers see when they are called to a disturbance may not tell the whole story. There are numerous defenses to allegations of domestic violence, including:
- Defense of self or another person
- Accidental injury
- That the alleged victim’s injuries were caused by something or someone else
- That the allegations are false
What about false accusations?
Most domestic violence allegations are made in good faith. However, when false allegations are made, it is often to gain an advantage in family law proceedings such as a child custody dispute. This can be a very tricky situation to sort out, because courts must investigate allegations fairly and understand that while domestic violence is a real problem, there are instances in which alleged victims have something to gain by making false accusations.
If you’ve been falsely accused of domestic violence in the context of a custody dispute, it is critical to defend yourself against the criminal charges first, with the help of an experienced San Francisco, CA domestic violence lawyer. After that, the results of your criminal case can be cited in any family law proceedings. If the accusations are shown to be clearly false, it could actually damage your co-parent’s chances of gaining custody.
Don’t risk your future – contact an attorney today
Domestic violence charges are always serious and must be addressed quickly and decisively. Your best chance of a favorable resolution in such cases is to work with a skilled San Francisco, CA domestic violence lawyer who will fiercely advocate for your rights and your freedom. Call our team today to obtain skilled, dedicated representation.
More Important Information About Domestic Violence
The ramifications of alleged domestic violence can quickly escalate, leading to consequences that are more serious than most people realize. Below is some information regarding how you could find yourself facing erroneous domestic violence charges, followed by information on what to expect if convicted of domestic violence. Note that, as always, if you have questions about being charged with domestic violence, you should connect with an experienced San Francisco, California domestic violence lawyer as soon as you possibly can. If you have questions, even if you haven’t been charged yet, chances are that you’re in need of legal guidance. The team at the Morales Law Firm can help.
Victim Cooperation Not Necessarily Required
Domestic violence charges are sometimes the result of a misunderstanding by a well-meaning but uninformed third party. And unfortunately, it is not always possible to clear the matter up by explaining the situation to law enforcement.
Say, for example, that you and your spouse were having a loud argument that the neighbors could hear. Someone calls the police and they arrive at your doorstep. You are assumed to be the perpetrator and your spouse is presumed to be the victim. Even if your spouse tries to explain away the situation and doesn’t want to press charges, this may not be the end of the story. In California, once police get involved, they can pursue prosecution even if the alleged victim doesn’t cooperate.
You likely won’t be able to get the charges dropped early in the process, but a San Francisco, CA domestic violence lawyer may be able to negotiate to reduce the charges (from a felony to a misdemeanor, for instance). As with any criminal charge, time is of the essence. It is important to respond quickly and with the help of an experienced San Francisco, CA domestic violence lawyer.
Sentencing Terms and Costs
Depending on the facts of your case (severity of the charges, prior offenses, etc.), your conviction for a domestic violence charge could result in moderate to serious jail time. But even if you are given the most lenient sentence available, it could still include:
- Three years of probation
- One year of weekly participation in a mandatory batterer’s program (meeting once per week for two hours or more)
- A $400 payment that goes toward funding programs to combat domestic violence
- 15-30 days in jail, which can be served in the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program
- An additional $300 in fines
- Monthly fees for probation supervision
If you are on probation and fail to meet all of the requirements, you could be sentenced to serve jail time.
Restrictions After a Domestic Violence Conviction
In addition to the sentencing terms and costs mentioned above, you will likely face numerous restrictions after a domestic violence conviction (during the time you are on probation). These restrictions include:
- Being the subject of a mandatory stay away order (which could impact your living arrangements)
- Mandatory prohibition against owning guns while on probation
- Limits or prohibitions on consumption of alcohol and drugs (sometimes enforced by drug testing)
- Possible anger management counseling
- Possible substance abuse counseling
If you are an immigrant without citizenship (documented or undocumented), a domestic violence conviction could prevent you from gaining citizenship/naturalization, or could even result in deportation.
If you have been accused of domestic violence, you may have important questions about what you can expect in the near future. You might also wonder whether you should consult a San Francisco, California domestic violence lawyer. The following are some of the most common questions our firm receives.
What is Domestic Violence, and Is It a Crime?
Technically, domestic violence is not a crime; rather, it is an element of an offense that has been done to another person or group of people. In general, domestic violence occurs to family or household members, and can include:
- Reckless or dangerous conduct
Domestic violence charges can be filed when an alleged offense is committed against:
- A current or former spouse
- Blood relatives over the age of 18
- People who are, or were, sexual partners
- People who live together
- People who used to live together
Are Penalties Often Severe?
Generally, in California, domestic violence charges are severe. The eligible offenses committed against family or household penalties tend to include heightened penalties. If convicted, jail or prison time, large fines, probation, and a permanent criminal record may apply.
What Are the Repercussions?
If you are convicted of domestic violence, there can be collateral consequences, including:
- Mandatory rehab
- Mandatory anger management classes
- A likelihood of a protective order (which carries its own terms and penalties)
- Removal from the household
- The inability to own a firearm
- Loss of child custody
- The inability to travel to certain countries
- The inability to hold certain work positions
- Harsh social stigmatization
What If I Am Getting a Divorce?
If you have been accused of domestic violence during a divorce, the proceedings may be impacted. That being said, it is not uncommon for allegations to be made as a means of tainting the reputation of the “accused” spouse. If a false accusation of domestic violence has been made, you should hire a San Francisco, CA domestic violence lawyer right away.
Can My Child Custody Rights Be Affected?
Yes, even if the allegations of domestic violence have come from another person other than the child. In general, the court will discover the allegations, or a conviction, and you could face a loss of custody or mandatory supervised visits.
How Can I Respond When Police Are On Their Way?
If police have been called because of a domestic violence dispute or altercation, you should not get any more confrontational. Do your best to calm down. Breathe, relax, and wait for the police. You should not run or avoid the police as this can exacerbate the situation.
You might be better off by not saying anything when police arrive – even if your accuser is alleging you of the domestic violence. The odds of you changing the mind of the police officer are slim. Talking to them might only give police more evidence. Wait for your opportunity to call a domestic violence lawyer in San Francisco, CA, and then do so right away.
No matter the specifics of your particular situation, if you’re facing charges or have questions about domestic violence law generally, please contact a San Francisco, CA domestic violence lawyer as soon as you can. Being proactive now may save you a great deal of stress and trouble down the road.
“I have worked with Chris Morales on cases for several years. He is tops, a well versed lawyer who understanding client relations and representation. Simple a top professional, and a great colleague.”