Domestic Violence FAQ's
What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence refers to abuse that is physical, sexual, and/or psychological
in nature. Incidents of domestic violence usually take place within a
family setting and can happen between spouses, boyfriends, girlfriends,
siblings, and other close family members. Domestic abuse behaviors may
include sexual assault, physical assault, verbal threats, harassment,
stalking, or manipulation.
Is domestic violence a misdemeanor or felony?
Domestic violence is usually classified as a misdemeanor. However, domestic
violence charges may be classified as a felony if the offender caused
injury to a minor, sexually assaulted the victim, sexually assaulted a
minor, caused the victim bodily harm, has prior domestic violence convictions,
or has prior criminal convictions.
What happens if I am convicted of domestic violence?
Each case varies and the legal consequences will depend upon the seriousness
and extent of your criminal charges. If you are convicted of domestic
violence, you may be sentenced with jail time, fines, probation, community
service, or counseling. Additionally, you may have to adhere to the terms
of a restraining order or orders of protection.
Can my domestic violence charges be dropped?
Once a person is charged with domestic violence by California law enforcement,
his/her charges cannot be dropped unless the prosecutor handling his/her
cases decides to drop them. This means that even if the person who pressed
the charges wishes to have the charges dropped, he/she will not have the
power to do so once law enforcement is involved.
Should I hire an attorney?
If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is in your best interest
to retain the services of a qualified criminal defense attorney. You will
want to hire a defense lawyer who has successfully handled a variety of
prior domestic violence cases and who is familiar with your local judicial system.
What can an attorney do for me?
Your domestic violence attorney will provide valuable legal counsel throughout
the criminal process and also place every effort into maintaining your
defense both in and out of court. In some cases, your domestic violence
lawyer can negotiate with prosecutors to have your charges dismissed or
your sentence reduced. Often times, an attorney can arrange for his/client
to be placed on probation or to undergo counseling instead of having to
spend time in jail.