Being accused of domestic violence by a partner or family member is devastating, and should prompt a call to a criminal defense attorney for representation. Emotionally, the accused must face the realization that the ones loved most do not trust him/her, and live through the fallout of having that label attached to his/her name. There is a real and damaging stigma associated with domestic violence that can alienate friends and family, and even jeopardize employment. While there are legitimate cases of domestic abuse, they can be misused by spouses or family seeking to retaliate or hurt an accused abuser, as well as spouses seeking divorce that want to gain an upper hand in the proceedings. Jail sentences are often imposed for even first-time misdemeanor convictions, so it is important to challenge these allegations head-on and avoid potential punishment. There are a number of offenses that fall under the domestic violence umbrella, and having a basic understanding of what qualifies as domestic violence is important in the event a person is accused. Even more important, knowing ways to fight these charges in court could make the situation a little easier to bear. Both of these issues will be explored below.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Criminal statutes on domestic violence essentially elevate the prohibitions against assaulting, battering or threatening violence when it involves a person’s fiancé, partner, spouse or parent of the person’s child by imposing greater penalties. A number of offenses are classified under the general category of domestic violence, but a few of the most common are: corporal injury, domestic battery and criminal threat. Corporal injury is intentionally applying physical contact to an intimate partner that causes a “traumatic condition.” Markings as slight as a bruise or swelling qualify as corporal injury because they leave a visible mark, and is applicable to both current and former intimate partners. This offense may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, but some amount of jail time is highly likely.
Domestic battery also involves the willful infliction of physical force against a current or former intimate partner, but does not require an injury to violate this law. The touching just needs to be harmful or offensive. Pushing a partner during an argument or grabbing and ripping a spouse’s shirt would be enough. This is a misdemeanor offense, though completion of a one-year batterer’s program is a common condition to avoid jail time.
Finally, criminal threat occurs when a threat to kill or physically harm is made to an intimate partner that puts him/her in a reasonable fear of his/her safety. The threat must be specific and clear, and may be communicated verbally, in writing or via electronic means. The accused does not have to intend to carry out the threat or have the ability to so in order to be found guilty of this offense. Like corporal injury, the criminal threat may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, and if a weapon is involved, the sentence is automatically increased by one year.
Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges
While contesting these allegations may seem next to impossible, there are a number of defenses that negate or excuse these charges. Self-defense or defense of others is usually the strongest defense an accused can claim. This defense applies if the accused:
- had a reasonable belief that he/she or someone else was in imminent danger of being harmed;
- had a reasonable belief force was necessary to escape the harm; and
- only used that amount of force which was necessary to escape the danger.
In addition, the accused can argue the touching was not willful, such as when a piece of broken glass inadvertently hits the other person. Finally, as noted above, these allegations are not always true, and an experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to bring out the falsity of these claims at trial.
Hire a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing domestic violence charges, hire a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Prosecutors are known for forcefully prosecuting these cases, and asking for the maximum penalty. Conviction of a domestic violence offense will greatly affect your life going forward, so give yourself the best chance of avoiding this consequence by working with an experienced criminal defense attorney, like Manshoory Law Group, APC in Los Angeles. Manshoory Law will fight for your rights and to get the best possible result. Attorneys are available 24/7. Contact us for a free consultation.