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Los Angeles Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys
Understanding Criminal Charges of Spousal, Child & Elder Abuse
There are many types of domestic violence crimes and they can include domestic battery, spousal abuse, child abuse, child endangerment and elder abuse. The O.J. Simpson trial and the widespread national attention it drew placed the issue of domestic violence and the "cycle of violence" at the forefront of the public's consciousness. Since then, law enforcement and prosecutors have ratcheted up their efforts to arrest and severely punish those whom they allege to have committed this crime. Although the increased attention being paid to domestic violence related offenses has its positives, it also has its negatives.
People are arrested everyday for alleged domestic violence when they are factually innocent. Police officers, following an arrest for domestic violence, will routinely tell arrestees that they have to automatically arrest someone due to the fact that the offense is domestic violence related. What is most troubling is that people can be arrested for these types of offenses even when there's an absence of any visible injury or in circumstances where neither of the parties involved in the incident called the police nor desired arrest and prosecution.
Domestic violence offenses are unique in many ways as compared to other criminal offenses. For example, contrary to popular belief, a person indentified by the police and prosecution as the victim cannot decide to simply drop charges in an effort to end a domestic violence case. Unfortunately, the prosecutor would make this decision, and most of the time, without any consideration given to the alleged victim's wishes.
In addition, an Emergency Protective Order or an EPO can be issued on behalf of an alleged victim by the arresting law enforcement agency, regardless of whether he/she wants it or not. The EPO's are temporary restraining orders and usually expire after 7 days unless the alleged victim requests that it be extended. A recently arrested person served with this order is legally barred from having any in-person, telephonic, nor electronic communication with the alleged victim, or risk arrest and criminal prosecution for violating a restraining order. Unfortunately, an EPO is not the only order forced upon alleged victims.
Another restraining order or stay-away order will be issued by the judge at the defendant's arraignment or first court appearance. It is for that reason that people charged with even misdemeanor domestic violence must appear in court at least for arraignment despite retaining a private criminal defense lawyer. The appearance is mandatory so the defendant can personally accept service of the new restraining order. Although alleged victims do not possess the decision making power, they can influence the decisions that are made. For example, restraining orders can be modified to allow for "peaceful contact" and criminal filing decisions can be influenced by alleged victims exercising their legal right to decline to cooperate with law enforcement and prosecutors.
The penalties for domestic violence convictions in California are very tough and become much more serious if a person charged has a prior criminal record of domestic violence. A person convicted of domestic violence faces incarceration in either county jail or state prison; fines; community service/labor; and mandatory completion of a 52 week batterers program. The penalty is not just limited to what a person is sentenced to. A conviction would result in a criminal record that could disqualify a person from pursuing a professional license, owning a firearm, and/or certain types of employment such as working in a school or hospital. In the state of California, there are several different laws that are targeted towards domestic violence; these include the following:
Penal Code Section 273.5(a): Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Spousal Abuse - It is considered to be a criminal offense to cause corporal injury to a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or mother or father his or her child that results in a traumatic condition. This could be, but not limited to, swelling, bruising, lacerations or any other visible injury.
Penal Code Section 243(e)1: Domestic Battery - This offense is similar to PC 273.5(a) in that it outlaws force or violence against a spouse, cohabitant, or parent of a person's child, except that it does not require that a visible injury be present. Therefore, domestic battery is considered a lesser offense.
Penal Code Section 273d: Child Abuse - This offense is committed when a person willfully inflicts cruel corporal punishment or injury resulting in a traumatic condition such as selling, bruising, lacerations, or any other visible injury.
Penal Code Section 273(a): Child Endangerment - This section makes it unlawful for a person to willfully cause or permit unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering upon a child under his/her custody. Furthermore, this section also makes it unlawful for a person to wilfully cause or permit a child to be placed in an unsafe environment.
Penal Code Ssection 368: Elder Abuse - This crime is committed when a person, who under conditions likely to produce great bodily injury or death, willfully permits or allows an elder adult to be subjected to any physical pain or mental suffering. Furthermore, inflicting unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering is also considered Elder Abuse. In addition, it also considered Elder Abuse if a person willfully causes or places an elder in a dangerous situation or defrauds an elder for financial gain.
Penal Code Section 422: Criminal Threats - This crime, which also commonly referred to as Terrorist Threats, is committed when a person threatens to commit a crime that could result in great bodily injury or death. The threat can either be made verbally, in writing, or by electronic communication. Even if the person making the threat does not intend to act on the threat, it is still considered a threat if the person being threatened is placed in fear for his/her own and family's safety.
A domestic violence conviction is very serious and can have life changing effects for the offender that may cause difficulties in obtaining employment, as well as issues with personal and professional relationships - even if the defendant is not guilty and has been wrongfully accused. A felony criminal record can bar offenders from obtaining certain professional licenses and disqualify one from jobs requiring security clearance. A domestic abuse charge can even affect a custody award.
Due to the harsh consequences that a person may suffer from as a result of a domestic violence related conviction, it is imperative that those accused seek experienced and qualified domestic violence defense representation. The two plus decades of serving those charged with various offenses in our criminal defense practice has provided us with an unmatched insight into the mindset of law enforcement and prosecutors. A swift and proactive response will insure that factual weaknesses in the prosecution's case against those accused will be indentified and presented before any filing decision is made. Make an appointment today for a consultation with one of our qualified and experienced domestic violence lawyers at Takakjian & Sitkoff, LLP.
Defending Against Charges of Domestic Abuse
The courts take all accusations of domestic violence seriously and act quickly to protect victims. A charge of this nature requires legal assistance from someone skilled in handling delicate yet potentially explosive household situations. An individual arrested for domestic violence should contact us immediately for legal representation from former district attorneys who have knowledge in these types of criminal issues.
At Takakjian & Sitkoff, we defend all types of criminal cases including those involving domestic violence. Our attorneys use their experiences as former district attorneys and a former superior court commissioner to provide a complete legal defense team that aggressively fights for the rights of those charged with crimes of domestic violence. As former prosecutors, we have a full-bodied understanding of the law and are prepared to go the distance in our efforts to provide our clients with the high-quality assistance that they need.