Domestic Violence cases

Domestic violence accusations are often some of the messiest criminal allegations because of how personal they are. The complaining witness is usually your dating partner or spouse, although these charges can also arise from altercations with other family members such as a brother, aunt, cousin, etc.

In many of these cases, there is an underlying issue that goes far beyond the main incident that was reported. Whether it's problems with drugs, suspected cheating, or disputes over child custody, there is practically always some kind of back story at play.

It can also be difficult to return to "normal life" after a domestic violence arrest because the judge will often order you to have "no contact" with the complaining witness. They may have been sharing your home with you, you may have children in common. The "no contact" order isn't just direct person-to-person contact...you can't have relatives or friends reach out to them, you can't post a public social media status for them to see, and you can't write them.  The judge can decide to lift "no contact" and instead have a "peaceful contact" which means you still cannot harm, annoy, or harass the person, but you can be around them. 

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If you are going to write about domestic violence on a website, it is very important that you have at least one stock photo of an angry fist and a woman keeled over looking devastated. 

A domestic violence trial can be very different from other types of trials. In most trials, "relevant" evidence is only that which tends to prove or disprove the charges in your case. But in domestic violence cases, an additional level of evidence is permitted: prior incidents of a similar nature can be presented to show a jury that this is a pattern. This is true even if those incidents were not reported and no charges were filed! However, judges will consider arguments against introducing this type of evidence if the defense can convince the judge that this will result in an unfair trial. 

Often, during the course of the criminal case, the complaining witness will change their mind about prosecution. Prosecutors are *not remotely surprised by this* and will rarely ever consider "dropping the charges" just because they find out that person no longer wants the case to go forward. It is extremely important not to even take part in discussions with the complaining witness about their testimony. Why? Well, you don't want to say anything that could be remotely construed as "tampering" or "dissuading" a witness. Often, those charges will be much more serious than the ones you might already be facing. If you are still allowed to have contact with the complaining witness in the case pending against you, it is critical that you not only exercise good judgment about your actions, but that you protect yourself from false accusations by not making statements that can be open to interpretation that can get you in trouble.

Don't get into a vicious cycle...

 

Some partners learn that calling the cops is their new favorite "weapon" against the other person, usually if they've called 911 once before and had the experience of it fixing the immediate problem (either with you, or with a previous partner). If you're mad that someone called the cops on you when you actually did hit them, ummm... I got some bad news for ya. But there are some BBQ Becky's out there. They think you're cheating? Right to jail. Didn't text back? Jail. Ignored them when they wanted to argue? Right to jail, right away! If this sounds like your relationship or if this kind of thing has even been threatened against you, sounds like high time to (peacefully) get out. You might think you love this partner, but the only real partnership this is leading to is one with your future cellmate. Get out while you can and meet someone nice, preferably whose idea of a jewelry gift ISN'T handcuffs!

 

Only you really know what your relationship is like, but having handled many of these cases, I can say that often, the complaining witnesses are very emotionally conflicted toward their partners and one moment, they want the maximum punishment possible, the next moment, they want the charges dropped, depending on their feelings toward the person. The best thing you can do is just not talk to the complaining witness about the case at all, and if they try to bring it up to you, contact your lawyer immediately to discuss the situation. Sometimes it is appropriate to re-interview the complaining witness, sometimes it is not. Regardless, you should have as little involvement in that process as humanly possible.

A domestic violence conviction will almost certainly cost you your right to possess a firearm, but additionally, you will often be required to take a 52 week "batterer's treatment program," perform work service hours, and adhere to a continued no contact or peaceful contact order as terms of your probation. These are all mandatory minimum sentencing requirements passed by the legislature, so it is pretty typical to see these terms as part of your plea bargain offer, but in some cases there may be an opportunity to negotiate and avoid some of these consequences without having to go to trial. Other times, trial ends up being the best option.

It is critical to have a lawyer with the skills and experience you can trust to navigate this messy area of the law. I have handled many domestic violence cases and gotten acquittals, dismissals, reductions to misdemeanors, and sentencing reductions for my clients facing these cases.

 

If you are charged with a domestic violence crime in Shasta County, including the areas of Redding, Anderson, Palo Cedro, Shasta Lake City, Cottonwood, Happy Valley, or if you are in Tehama County (Red Bluff), Trinity County (Weaverville), or nearby counties in the North State area of Northern California, don't delay in seeking the services of a skilled attorney to get you the help you need to protect yourself. I am available to discuss your case with you in a free consultation.

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I borrowed these sunglasses to take this picture just to avoid copyright infringement. This is the kind of dedication you want to see in your lawyer.