Over the last 30 years the consequences for Domestic Violence have become more severe as the government and politicians try to prove that they are “tough on crime.” Being charged with a Domestic Violence offense in Monterey County can be extremely embarrassing and frustrating, because of the very personal issues that will be exposed in the process. The government meddling in your personal life, getting involved in your private dealings with your spouse, or telling you how to raise your children can be very upsetting. Hiring a qualified Monterey, Carmel, or Salinas Domestic Violence attorney can increase your chances of reaching a favorable outcome.
Possibly the most frustrating thing about being charged with a Domestic Violence offense is that it is a crime that is often based on the story of someone who is angry with the accused at the time of contacting the authorities, and who may want revenge. Unfortunately, the system can be easily manipulated by someone with an agenda who wants to use the criminal justice system against his or her partner. This need for revenge usually comes from an outstanding family court matter, divorce, child custody dispute, or simply recently discovered infidelity. The Monterey County courts are full of men and women who were accused and charged with Domestic Violence offences, and either pled to something they did not do or went to trial and were wrongly convicted because they were set up.
CONSEQUENCES OF A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTION
The consequences of these unnecessary pleas or unjust convictions can last a lifetime. These crimes carry heavy fines, mandatory classes that last an entire year, and jail and prison sentences, lifetime gun ban and they are defined as crimes of moral turpitude. Moreover, some of them can be “strike” offenses for purposes of the Three Strikes Law. Domestic Violence crimes also can have grave immigration consequences and can lead to deportation from the United States. Many times, when children are involved, a conviction of a Domestic Violence crime in Monterey County can even mean losing custody of your kids.
Throughout Monterey County and the Salinas Valley, the police’s main priority after that fateful 911 call is made is to make an arrest. The prosecution’s priority is making sure that they get some type of conviction. The system is not interested in what really happened in the relationship, what the fight was really about, that the “victim” was actually the instigator, or that he or she was the aggressor and you were trying to defend yourself. Unfortunately, there are no real safeguards in the system to protect innocent men and women from being accused and charged with something they did not do. And even more unfortunate is that gender often plays a key role in Domestic Violence cases: men are most times the accused. Whoever made the 911 call will almost always be defined as the “victim,” and that means that if you were not the one who made the call, you are more likely to be the one arrested when the police arrive.
THE CHARGES CANNOT BE DROPPED
There is the misconception that a spouse/partner/girlfriend can “drop” the charges after he or she has called the police and you have been arrested. That is not true. The Monterey County District Attorney’s office will not drop the charges in a Domestic Violence case simply because a week or a month later the supposed Domestic Violence “victim” wants to drop the charges. The decision to file or not file a case is the sole decision of the Monterey County District Attorney. That decision will be based on what is said on the 911 call, what is written in the police report, whether or not there were any injuries, and whether or not there have been any prior acts of Domestic Violence (Under Evidence Code section 1109 the D.A. can make a motion to introduce evidence of prior acts of Domestic Violence, whether they were charged as crimes or not and including acts of Domestic Violence against persons other than the alleged victim in your case.)
THE PENAL CODE SECTIONS IN DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES
California Penal Code section 273.5 (Corporal Injury on a Spouse or Cohabitant) is the most commonly used criminal charge in Domestic Violence cases. In order to convict someone of this charge the government must prove that you: Willfully and intentionally inflicted a bodily injury; and the injury was inflicted on your current or former spouse, partner, girlfriend, or someone with whom you have had a sexual relationship, dating relationship or a person with whom you have a child together.
Penal Code section 273.5 is a “wobbler,” which means it can be filed or pled or sentenced as a misdemeanor or a felony. Whether the case is filed as a felony or a misdemeanor depends on the gravity of the injuries. Whether the case is pled or sentenced as a felony or misdemeanor will depend on the facts of the case as well as the expertise and experience of your attorney.
Penal Code section 243(e)(1)(Battery or Cohabitant or Spouse), is defined almost exactly the same as Penal Code section 273.5, except that the government does not have to prove that there was an injury. Penal Code section 243(e)(1) is a misdemeanor. The D.A.’s office will almost always file this charge when the supposed victim was allegedly pushed or shoved. In most of these cases there was no crime committed, only a simple misunderstanding or an accidental touching. Yet the “system” is so focused on arrests and convictions instead of the truth that these cases are filed all the time. Although a violation of Penal Code section 243(e)(1) cannot result in a prison sentence, a plea to or a conviction to this crime can have all of the other consequences listed above.
California Penal Code section 422 (Criminal Threats) is charged whenever the alleged victim makes the claim that the accused threatened her. In relevant part Penal Code section 422 demands that the government prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused “willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement …. is taken as a threat…” In other words, the government can use the unfortunate things couples say to each other during a fight to charge you with a crime. Although Penal Code section 422 is a “wobbler” and can be filed a misdemeanor or a felony, if it is filed as a felony, it is considered a “strike” for purposes of the Three Strikes Law. Obviously, if you plea to such a charge or are found guilty of it by a jury, it will have life-altering consequences. The fact that these charges came out of a verbal argument that you and your partner had does not mean that you should take it lightly. A charge of Penal Code section 422 is serious enough to be a “strike” if it is filed as a felony.
HIRE A MONTEREY COUNTY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ATTORNEY
The first thing to do if you are being investigated by the police or have been arrested for Domestic Violence is to hire a criminal defense attorney. The negative life-long consequences that can come from a Domestic Violence conviction cannot be overemphasized. As a Deputy Public Defender, for more than 10 years, Attorney Charles Shivers defended 1,000s of cases, including hundreds of Domestic Violence cases. Mr. Shivers knows how prosecutors and police investigate and put together a case against you. More importantly, he knows the mistakes that they usually make and the shortcuts that they take. Mr. Shivers will use his expertise and knowledge to your advantage either in negotiating a plea or taking your case to trial in front of a jury.
If you or a loved one has been charged with domestic violence, you need a qualified Monterey, Carmel, and Salinas Domestic Violence Attorney to protect your rights. As a former deputy public defender, Mr. Shivers has the experience to aggressively defend you. Choosing a qualified criminal lawyer is an important and difficult decision. Call Charles H. Shivers, Attorney at Law, today for a free consultation (831) 751-1667.
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