Any couple in a serious relationship will have disagreements at some point, and sometimes, emotions can get the better of people and lead to loud shouting matches. While these incidents are unfortunate, and probably not the best representative moments of a relationship, having an argument does not automatically translate into physical violence.
Being falsely accused of domestic violence is a very serious and damaging claim and requires a vigorous response by an experienced domestic violence attorney. People tend to assume these charges are true and treat the accused as if he/she was found guilty.
An assemblyman in California is facing this situation as three State Republican officials are pressuring him to resign and fold his campaign in the wake of domestic violence allegations from his wife. Assemblyman Roger Hernandez is in the middle of a divorce, and his wife is seeking a restraining order after claiming over 20 violent incidents during their three-year marriage.
Having this charge leveled against you can be very overwhelming, but understanding how the law views domestic violence and the restrictions imposed with restraining orders may make moving through the ordeal a little easier.
What are the Penalties for Domestic Violence in California?
When someone makes an allegation of domestic violence, California has several provisions in the penal code a prosecutor could use to bring charges. The first is the battery, which is the “willful and unlawful use of force or violence” against another person. The maximum penalty for this offense is a $2,000 fine and/or six months in the county jail.
If the prosecutor decides to elevate the charge to one involving violence against a spouse or partner, the possible penalties include fines up to $2,000 and one year in county jail.
Alternatively, if the sentence is for probation, there is an automatic condition that the defendant attends a one-year batterer’s treatment program. If the prosecutor chooses to charge a defendant with a battery that resulted in serious bodily harm, the sentence is a minimum of one year in jail.
Finally, there is an offense for corporal injury to a spouse or partner that is used when the allegations include claims of causing internal and external wounds that carries a sentence of one year in jail and/or a fine up to $6,000 if charged as a misdemeanor, or two to four years in state prison if charged as a felony.
How Do Restraining Orders Work?
Typically, when someone is accused of domestic abuse by a family member, there is also a corresponding petition filed asking for a restraining order. A restraining order essentially limits the ability of a person to interact with a specific individual and is granted if the petitioner can show there is a threat of or previous abuse.
Further, in the context of domestic violence, in order to be eligible to ask for this restraint, the individual filing the petition must be married, living together, divorced, separated, dating, share a child, or be related as an in-law through a current marriage to the person named in the petition. Abuse can cover a wide range of behaviors and includes written and spoken communications as well as physical altercations.
The primary actions a restraining order will address include:
- requiring the accused to move out of the shared home;
- imposing child and spousal support;
- setting out who gets possession of the certain property, such as the family home and car;
- prohibiting contact between the accused and accuser, and any family members that reside with the accuser; and
- blocking the accused from possessing guns or ammunition.
These orders are issued on a temporary basis within one business day of filing a petition and remain in effect until a hearing to determine if the order will continue.
The court can extend the order up to five years, and if the order is violated, the restrained person can be arrested and charged with additional crimes. No matter the details of the accusations against you our restraining order attorney can help protect your rights.
The Damage of False Accusations of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a physical act against a person with whom an individual has a special and often intimate relationship, such as a spouse or former spouse, a cohabitant, the other parent of an individual’s child, a fiancée or former fiancée, or anyone with whom the individual has or had a dating or engagement relationship.
The primary problem of false accusations, generally, and especially false accusations of domestic violence, has to do with perception. In other words, when one is initially accused of domestic violence, there is an initial perception by everyone involved that the accuser is speaking the truth. As a result, there can be a severe backlash against the accused.
While not everyone is as well-known as a professional athlete, the backlash can nevertheless be just as severe if against one who is not well-known. Friends, co-workers, and family will reflexively reduce communication and contact with the accused, making him/her feel overwhelmed and insulated, when, in reality, he/she is the victim.
How to Beat a False Domestic Violence Charge?
As stated above, if presented with a false allegation of domestic violence, do not try to go it alone. The feeling of insulation may lead to frustration, which may lead to other potential issues that could be more difficult to combat.
Rather, it is best to act proactively. Thus, if the relationship begins to sour, and one person believes the other may file a false claim of domestic violence, the first thing that should be done is to contact a criminal defense attorney experienced in domestic violence.
These attorneys will be able to help the person in this situation understand what options he/she may have at his/her disposal. Additionally, the attorney will help the potentially accused individual gather evidence in case the accusations, in fact, are made.
In addition to practical steps a person can take to defend against domestic violence accusations, one’s attorney has several avenues to fight this charge in court, including:
- proving the injury was the result of an accident;
- showing the accuser’s injuries were not caused by the defendant;
- establishing the defendant acted in self-defense or defense of others; or
- prove the accusations were false and motivated by issues such as anger, jealousy, or to gain the upper hand in other legal proceedings.
Further, depending on the circumstances, it may be prudent to plea to a lesser offense to avoid the serious consequences of a domestic violence conviction. One final option that may be available is to obtain a pretrial diversion, which requires the defendant to enter a batterers’ program.
Successful completion will result in a dismissal of charges, and effectively erases the criminal case for most purposes.
Protecting Yourself Against False Domestic Violence Accusations
Being accused of a crime is a serious situation that requires swift and forceful defense by a seasoned criminal defense attorney who knows how to protect your rights.
The Manshoory Law Group, APC, located in Los Angeles, works to bring the best possible results for their clients and can help you with your legal problems. Contact us for a free consultation.