OC Domestic Violence Lawyer in Orange County
Violation of California Penal Code 13700
Domestic violence is a serious crime in Orange County that comes with heavy penalties. Allegations of domestic violence are taken seriously by police and for good reason. The National Coalition of Domestic Violence estimates that about one million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. What doesn't get as much attention in the media is how many people who get wrongly accused of committing acts of domestic violence.
These people are paying a high price for acts they didn't commit. At the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, our domestic violence defense attorneys are committed to providing the strong defense that is critical to protecting your reputation, future and freedom. If you or a loved one is facing domestic violence charges in Orange County, please call us at (714) 530-9690 for a free consultation.
What is Domestic Violence?
First, it is important to understand what is considered domestic violence under California law. Under California Penal Code 13700, abuse means "intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, or placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to himself or herself, or another."
This means you can face domestic violence charges if the alleged victim reasonably believed they were going to suffer harm. You don't actually need to have any intention of causing bodily injury in order to face such a charge. The alleged victim only has to believe that you intended to cause serious bodily injury at the time.
Domestic violence related charges are unique because they involve someone to whom you are close. Domestic violence laws in Orange County specifically refer to abuse committed against a spouse, cohabitant, child, boyfriend, girlfriend, fiancé, former cohabitant or family member.
"Michael L. Guisti worked really hard for me to get my charges reduced and other domestic violence charges dismissed. When I very first met Guisti we talked for about a couple hours about my problem in court and other things we had in common. Guisti knows you're facing a big problem, but he does everything to put you at ease..."
Domestic Violence and Child Abuse
While child abuse is considered a form of domestic violence, all domestic violence does not necessarily involve the physical or emotional abuse of a child. A boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse can claim to have been the victim of domestic violence without a child being involved at all. On the other hand, situations of abuse can be used as a defense against domestic violence charges: if someone believes a spouse or partner presents a real threat to their child, then it may justify the use of violent force to stop the aggressor and protect the child.
One thing to consider about domestic violence is how it can be used in determining custody in a divorce. In California, when determining custody in a divorce, the judge must consider any convictions for domestic violence of either party. If one of the parents has been convicted of domestic violence, or the judge decides such violence has occurred, then the judge cannot grant sole or joint custody of the child to that person. Supervised visitation may be allowed, but custody cannot be granted to someone convicted of domestic violence.
A Restraining Order was Filed Against Me, What Do I Do?
If you have had a restraining order filed against you, there are ways to fight it, but you must do so in a legally responsible way that does not damage your case or lead to serious consequences. First, obey the instructions of the restraining order carefully and thoroughly. Even if this means moving out of your house and being away from your children for a time, you must obey the order. Failing to do this can have serious consequences including fines and jail time.
The next thing you should do is contact an experienced California defense lawyer immediately. At the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, we have experience dealing with restraining orders and can help you understand your rights and how to move forward. You can file an answer to the order that explains your side of the story and better illustrates a situation. Finally, you absolutely must go to the court hearing indicated on the restraining order to discuss the situation in court. Failure to appear at court leaves yourself unrepresented and the judge can still rule on the case even if you are not there and provide no answer to the order.
The Victim Lied About the Domestic Violence, How Do They Drop the Charges?
In California, even if the victim of domestic violence drops the charges, they still do not go away. Once someone charges another person with domestic violence, and law enforcement becomes involved, then the state steps in. At that point, the charge is not only brought by the victim but also by the state of California itself. Should the accuser later decide to drop the charges, he or she may do so, but that has no impact on the state's case and California will typically continue with the charge.
Even in cases where the accuser tells prosecutors that he or she lied about the violence, the case will probably still go forward. In many instances of domestic violence, the victim will try to protect his or her abuser, so California law has taken control of prosecution largely out of the victim's hands. If you or someone you know has been accused of domestic violence, contact an experienced defense attorney immediately to represent and protect you.
Can Domestic Violence Happen Without Physical Contact?
According to the state of California, yes it can. Domestic violence in California, under Penal Code 13700, includes situations in which attempts at violence are made as well those in which the victim believed he or she was going to be physically injured. These types of assault cases are prosecuted just as seriously as those in which bruises or physical violence is plainly evident.
Unfortunately for some individuals accused of domestic violence, there is a great deal of interpretation regarding what is necessary for a person to believe he or she is going to be injured. During an argument, tempers can rise and people may yell at each other and even break household items, but no physical injuries are caused by either person involved. Even so, one individual can accuse the other of making him or her feel threatened with violence and harm. In this type of situation, it is vital to have an experienced California defense lawyer to represent you and present your side of the story. Call the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti at (714) 530-9690 or Toll Free (888) 478-8999 to discuss your case today.
Defenses for Domestic Violence in Orange County
Defendants who believe they have been wrongly accused of domestic violence have the right under the law to fight the charges. There are a number of potential defenses in a domestic violence case. There could have been false allegations of abuse. This is known to happen in contentious divorce and child custody cases. An experienced OC criminal defense lawyer will look for inconsistencies in the accuser's version of the incident by comparing it to police reports and eyewitness accounts.
Self-defense is also another valid defense. For example, some people have claimed they acted in self-defense or in defense of their children. This type of defense can prove successful if the person believed there was an imminent threat, had a suitable response and didn't start the physical fight or act of aggression. In domestic violence cases, the State has the burden of proof, which means that it must present evidence to prove that you committed the crime.
Domestic Violence Penalties
A domestic violence conviction in Orange County could result in a minimum sentence of three years of probation and a 52-week mandatory batterer's program or anger management program. California courts are also required to issue a protective order to safeguard the accuser from violence or intimidation. Depending on the nature of the charges and the extent of the accuser's injuries, someone convicted of domestic violence charges may face jail or prison time and hefty fines as well.
Experience Counts When Hiring an OC Domestic Violence Lawyer
If you have been accused of domestic violence, it is important that you get an experienced Orange County domestic violence defense attorney on your side. At the Law Office of Michael L. Guisti, we work diligently to get the best possible outcome for our clients. We fight hard to protect your rights every step of the way. Call us at (714) 530-9690 to discuss your case.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.