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Domestic Violence Defenses in Los Angeles

Los Angeles County prosecutors and law enforcement agencies aggressively enforce California's domestic violence laws. Prosecutors often find themselves under public pressure to file cases and obtain convictions as domestic violence is often a sensitive and even political issue. Unfortunately, there are sometimes charges filed in in spite of significant evidentiary issues with the case.

For anyone accused of first domestic violence, it's crucial to hire a Los Angeles domestic violence attorney early in the court process. You need an attorney with experience and a thorough understanding how to prepare a best defense plan that will give you the best chance at avoiding a conviction.

In the vast majority of domestic violence cases, there are several strategies a defense attorney could utilize in an attempt to obtain the best possible outcome on the case. There are often situations where negotiation with the prosecutor could result in reduced charges or even get the charges dropped.

If you have been accused of committing a domestic violence offense, the next step you need to take is to immediately consult with our criminal lawyers and let them us know all the details of the case.

You need to be honest and not leave out details. Tell us exactly what happened and why you were arrested for domestic violence? What are prosecutors and police saying?

Once we have all the facts and circumstances of your case, we will be able to start preparing an appropriate plan to defend your case.

To give readers useful information about fighting domestic violence charges in Los Angeles courts, our criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.

Victim Can't Get Domestic Violence Charges Dropped

A common question deals with a spouse who decides they don't want domestic violence charges files against their spouse. In such a situation, can the prosecutor still file charges and could the spouse still be convicted? The answer is yes.

Any alleged domestic violence victim does not have the authority to file or drop charges. It's simply not their decision to make. By law, victims are not allowed to make to make this decision and the final decision on how to handle domestic violence case is made by the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office. 

Due to the relationship between an alleged victim of domestic violence victim and the defendant, there is often a tendency for the victim to have conflicted feelings about their spouse facing criminal charges.

Therefore, California law does not afford a victim discretion on whether or not formal charges are filed. Once law enforcement has received a call and there has been allegations of a domestic violence crime, then any decision on charges is made by the district attorney. This includes whether charges will be filed or dismissed.

Let's go through a review of the most common defenses against domestic violence charges in Los Angeles criminal courts.

Common Domestic Violence Charges

Penal Code 243(e)(1) – Domestic Battery
Penal Code 273.5 – Corporal Injury to a Spouse
Penal Code 422 – Criminal Threats
Penal Code 273.6 – Violating a Restraining or Protective Order
Penal Code 368 – Elder Abuse
Penal Code 273d – Child Abuse
Penal Code 136.1 – Witness Intimidation

Self-Defense Argument 

Once Los Angeles police arrive at the scene of an alleged domestic violence incident, they have to make immediate decisions in an often chaotic situation. There are some police departments in Los Angeles County that require their officers to make an arrest after they respond to a domestic violence call.

Typically, they tend to believe whoever made the initial 911 call, most often the female. Police officers will attempt to quickly decide if there are visible injuries on the victim and use this to make an immediate arrest.

Unfortunately, for the defendant, the police didn't conduct a thorough investigation and never considered whether that they might have acted in self-defense when they used physical force on their spouse.

In order to have a valid claim of acting in self-defense, it will have to prove there was a reasonable belief a defendant would suffer immediate harm of being injured.

It must also be proven there was a reasonable belief that using force was necessary to prevent from being injured and there was no more force used than necessary.

Under California's self-defense laws (CALCRIM 3470), a person is allowed to use force to protect themselves, even in a domestic violence situation.

It should be noted that domestic violence cases involve mutual combat between spouses. In other words, both the victim and defendant committed assault on each other. It's not always easy to determine the primary aggressor and if one spouse was acting in self-defense.

Our domestic violence defense lawyers might also be able to make a reasonable argument that the injuries on the alleged victim were not caused by a willful act, but rather an accidental injury.

False Allegation Argument in Domestic Violence Cases

Most incidents of domestic violence are highly emotional. It's not uncommon for the spouse who is calling 911 to not provide accurate details. Once police officers arrive, it's also not uncommon for a spouse to exaggerate the details, or make false allegations in the heat of the moment. Many victims end up regretting their statements later knowing they were not accurate.

There are cases where alleged victims of domestic violence will falsely accuse their spouse during divorce or child custody proceedings in a family law court because they believe it might be used to their advantage.

If you were falsely accused of committing domestic violence, our defense lawyers can show inconsistencies in the victim's statements, or might be able to prove they are false. In some cases, it might be necessary to conduct an independent investigation to show victim's motives to make false allegations.

If we can create reasonable doubt about the victim's accusations, then there is a much better chance the prosecutor could be persuaded to reduce or dismiss the domestic violence charges.

In some cases, we might be able to make a reasonable argument there is simply not enough evidence to obtain a conviction. If we can show the prosecutor there is a lack of credible evidence, then you have a much better chance at avoiding a domestic violence conviction.

Prefiling Intervention 

The process of prefiling intervention involves negotiation with police and the prosecutor in an attempt to get the case dropped. In some domestic violence cases in Los Angeles, the victims will exaggerate what happened or make false accusations. There are also cases where the victim doesn't want to the case to proceed and will become uncooperative.

A through presentation by a criminal attorney about these issues of proving a domestic violence case and mitigating factors about defendant's background can character might end getting the case dropped before court. It could also result in getting the charge reduced to a misdemeanor, or informally handled though the City Attorney hearing process.

Frequently, early intervention by our experienced criminal lawyers after the arrest or police report was submitted is the best strategy to avoid formal filing of domestic violence charges.

Presenting mitigation factors to the prosecutor very early in the process will often help obtain reduced charges and a resolution to the case with no jail time.

There are also situations where the victim changes their statement about what happened. This means a prosecutor will often be willing to negotiate a favorable agreement or even dismiss the charges.

Additionally, there are domestic violence situations where the prosecutor wants to avoid dealing with a victim who changed their initial statement to law enforcement. This means they are normally open to negotiate a favorable settlement.

Contact our Domestic Violence Attorneys for Help

If you were accused of committing domestic violence, our Los Angeles domestic violence lawyers will review the details of you case and legal options. You need experienced legal representation who knows the most effective strategies to obtain a favorable outcome.

We have history of success defending clients who have been charged with all types of domestic violence cases.

Cron, Israels & Stark is a criminal defense law firm with a team of highly skilled lawyers that have decades of combined experience. We are located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025.

We are also located at 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (424) 372-3112.

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