JEFFREY R. WOOD
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Sacramento & Placer County Domestic Violence Attorney
Domestic Violence Defined
When the police investigate a domestic violence case, and they believe a crime has occurred, they are required by law to arrest the person they think is the dominant aggressor, not the first aggressor, but the most physically powerful.
But what is domestic violence? It is defined in California Family Code section 6203 and 6211, as any form of violence or abuse between family members, people who live together, people in a romantic relationship currently or in the past, spouses or ex-spouses, or domestic partners.
The domestic violence, or domestic abuse, laws in California are broad. They cover a wide variety of offenses, not just some sort of physical abuse. Physical abuse does not just refer to hitting but can also be kicking, pushing, shoving, throwing things, or pulling hair. It can also be restraining someone or intimidating them.
Some domestic violence cases the District Attorney will file do not involve just violence, or any violence at all. Many domestic violence cases are verbal, emotional or psychological trauma. It is important to understand that in a domestic violence case, someone does not have to be hit in order to be a victim.
Examples of Domestic Violence/Abuse include:
Stalking (Penal Code 646.9) (such as following the victim to and from work and threatening the victim)
Physical Assault (Penal Code 273.5) or abuse (Penal Code 243(e)(1)) (hitting, slapping, pushing, shoving or kicking)
Verbal, social, and sexual abuse
Punishment for Domestic Violence
In California, domestic violence cases are often punished more severely than a comparable incident involving a total stranger. A domestic violence charge can have a severe impact on your life, especially if it involves physical abuse. In addition to facing jail time and financial penalties, a restraining order is highly likely to be issued. Depending on your criminal record and the circumstances surrounding your case, you could either be charged with a
misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor domestic violence conviction may result in: community service hours, 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling (Batter's Treatment Program), fines, a no contact order with the victim and up to 6 months in jail. A felony conviction on the other hand can result in all of the same penalties, but instead of a short jail sentence, a prison
sentence of up to three years or more. Because domestic violence can involve a lot of “he said, she said” it is imperative that you get an experienced, credible criminal defense attorney on your side immediately.
Almost every California District Attorney has a number of specially designated prosecutors and special domestic violence units (also called “DV units”) to prosecute domestic violence cases. These special prosecutors and DV units will aggressively prosecute anyone who is charged with domestic violence. For this reason, it’s essential to trust your case to an experienced domestic violence lawyer. Mr. Wood spent over 15 years prosecuting, and supervising, the Domestic Violence Unit at the Placer County District Attorney's office, which gives him unique insight on how best to defend against these types of charges.
A restraining or protective order is an order used by a court to protect a person or entity, and the general public, in a situation involving domestic violence, harassment, stalking or sexual assault. These orders are issued in a variety of different formats.
An Emergency Protective Order (EPO) is issued in domestic violence or stalking situations where a law enforcement officer believes a party needs protection. An EPO may still be issued even if the alleged victim does not want a protective order, charges, or if either involved party has left the residence. The officer will call the judge and explain the circumstances, it is then up to the court whether to issue the EPO. The EPO may include specific orders, such as no contact, care and control of minor children, kick-out order, not to disseminate facts that include intimate details and other conditions. The Emergency Protective Order is in effect for five court days or seven calendar days. If the order is violated, new charges can be filed.
A Domestic Violence Protective Order is obtained in a civil proceeding separate from any arrest or criminal court. Oftentimes, an alleged victim will request a Temporary Restraining Order prior to the Emergency Protective Order expiring. A Temporary Restraining Order can be ordered without any input from the restrained party, it can be based solely on the requesting party's testimony. The Temporary Restraining Order is valid until the hearing on a permanent restraining order, which can be in place for up to five years. Similar to the Emergency Protective Order, the Domestic Violence Protective Order can prevent contact and harassment. It can, and often does address child custody, visitation, child/spousal support, a kick out (move out) provision, use of real property and surrender of firearms. A violation of any of the terms ordered by the court can result in new criminal charges.
If charged with domestic violence or stalking, a Criminal Court Protective Order (CPO) will be ordered during the arraignment. It is possible this will be a no contact order, meaning the restrained party may have to move out of their own home. The no contact order can also include a minor who was merely present during a domestic violence incident as a protected party. Other conditions may include allowing the protected party to record communications, being placed on GPS monitor and surrender of firearms. The Criminal Protective Order can be valid for up to 10 years and can only be changed by the court, and not by the acts of the protected party and the restrained party. California Penal Code §13710(b).
You could lose your firearms.
All protective orders have firearm restrictions prohibiting the restrained party from owning or possessing a firearm, as stated in California Penal Code §29825. In fact, an officer responding to the scene of domestic violence involving a threat to human life or a physical assault, or is serving a protective order as defined in Family Code section 6218, SHALL take temporary custody of any firearm or deadly weapon in plain sight or discovered pursuant to a consensual search. If you have firearms, and want to keep the right to own and possess them, you should contact an attorney before it is too late.
Call Attorney Jeff Wood for Immediate Legal Assistance.
One of the most serious aspects of domestic violence charges in Sacramento, Placer, Yolo, El Dorado or Nevada, and most other counties prosecuting attorneys may still press charges even if the victim does not want to. Frequently the person who initially called the police or claimed that domestic violence occurred does not want to press charges. They have had time to cool off and realize that they overreacted, but their attempt to withdraw allegations has come too late. This is one of many reasons that it is so important to involve a lawyer to handle your charges as early in the process as possible. Domestic violence cases often are complicated, sensitive, and emotional. During such a difficult time, defendants need supportive legal representation. Contact my law office for a confidential review of the specific circumstances of your case.