California Domestic Violence Court Process
Following a domestic violence arrest in California, alleged perpetrators can waste time, money, and energy preparing for their court processes. Although there are no definitive statistics to quote, there is no denying that some suspected acts of domestic violence by prosecutors are later determined to have insufficient evidence, or in some cases, evidence that directly contradicts the experience reported by alleged victims.
Many people have very strong feelings concerning instances of domestic abuse with groups pushing to punish abusers having gained a lot of support. Although this has been a productive transition for those dedicated to decreasing instances of household violence, those who are unfairly accused of committing acts of abuse against their spouse, significant other, or child can have a difficult time clearing their names in the court of public opinion. An arrest largely depends upon the evidence gathered during the course of an investigation, which is designed to identify a victim and an abuser.
When authorities arrive on scene, they will focus on separating everyone involved. If the area in which interviews are performed is particularly small, officers will separate the involved parties as much as possible with their backs facing each other to promote safety and focus.
If serious injury has occurred or substantial damage to a home is evident, the officer may turn the area into a crime scene. If this occurs, investigators will take photographs, take various measurements, and be especially vigilant in the collection of evidence. Statements may be tape recorded or written and should be obtained from the alleged defendant, victim, as well as any witnesses.
It is important to note that there are instances in which the person arrested for domestic abuse does not have their injuries photographed. Those facing charges are encouraged to take their own photos of their own injuries and do so every few days after the injuries are sustained.
Possible Court Orders
Criminal charges for these types of incidences almost always result in some type of court order to help protect the parties involved in the initial scuffle. The following are the most common CA domestic violence court orders and a brief description of their purpose.
– Peaceful Contact Order
- This order is often obtained by alleged victims who want to continue having a relationship with their alleged abuser. This often occurs between parties who do not want to file charges for domestic abuse and are both in opposition to the court process.
– Civil Harassment Restraining Order (CHO)
- This is an order aimed specifically at limiting contact between the two parties to cease harassing behavior. This occurs when the victim feels they are suffering severe emotional distress as a result of their alleged abuser.
– Emergency Protective Order (EPO)
- Issued under more extreme circumstances where the alleged victim is in immediate concern for his or her safety and needs immediate protection from the court prior to the domestic violence court hearing.
Once the district attorney or other prosecutor views the domestic violence reports, a legal “Complaint” is prepared and charged through the Superior Court. The alleged abuser is then required to appear in a court of law to respond to the allegations with their attorney. The defendant can hire an attorney or a public defender will be appointed to represent them. Due to the large number of cases that are assigned to public defenders and the wide variety of different types of cases they provide legal service for, so they may be unable to rely on their previous domestic violence experience to ensure the best legal representation for their clients.
Usually, the arraignment is the first in-court hearing that the defendant will face. At the arraignment, the defendant will:
- Enter a plea of guilty, not guilty, or no contest.
- Be informed of issues concerning bail and release.
- Be informed of their future court date.
- Be informed and advised as to your Constitutional rights.
- Be informed of the specific penal codes for which you have been found in violation.
What Every Defendant Must Do
Everyone who is charged with committing an act of domestic abuse and is formally charged must tend to a number of uncomfortable court processes. If they fail to do so, they may dramatically increase their chances of spending time in jail or increasing their existing penalties.
Here are actions you should take to keep yourself from experiencing further court action:
– Respond to any domestic violence restraining order in a family or civil law court.
– Do not make any statements to any authorities or to anyone else about your court case unless they are your attorney. If the police keep trying to get you to talk to them simply inform them that you are taking advantage of your right to remain silent and want your attorney before going over the case with them. Police will almost always use your statements against you.
Prosecution of Alleged Abusers
In times past, a conviction for committing domestic battery and the penalties ordered by the court were the consequences for abusers, reserved only for those whose case was heard in a court of law and were found to be guilty, but this is no longer the case. These days, simply being arrested for allegedly committing domestic violence can be information that is easily accessible by a potential employer or significant other.
Penalties are no longer reserved solely for those convicted, but also for those arrested. An unfortunate unintentional consequence of media networks that thrive from outrageous headlines and condemning editorial pieces.
So what can those facing charges in California do to limit the damage? Get in touch with the court process and hire a skilled domestic violence defense attorney. Taking on a domestic violence case alone can be a foolish endeavor. Take advantage of a free confidential case evaluation and find out where you stand.
Those facing charges for committing spousal or child abuse in Southern California are invited to contact my domestic violence law firm, The Law Offices of Randy Collins, by calling (888) 250-2865 for a free confidential case evaluation. Having been selected as a Top 40 Criminal Defense Lawyer Under 40 by the American Society of Legal Advocates, you can feel confident knowing that you have a top notch domestic violence defense lawyer representing you when it matters most.