Defending Domestic Violence Cases Throughout Northern California
Domestic violence can be charged either as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the alleged injuries suffered by the alleged victim and on the past criminal history of the client.
A domestic violence conviction can have a devastating effect on an individual’s personal and professional life. If you have been charged with domestic violence, you should seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney versed in all aspects of domestic violence. Jacob D. Zamora, Esq., of the Sierra Law Center, APC, is well versed in the defense of domestic violence, including domestic violence trials.
Can The Victim Of Domestic Violence Drop The Charges?
The simple answer is no. In a domestic violence case, the victim does not have the authority to “drop” or dismiss charges once domestic violence criminal proceedings are started. In fact, in most domestic violence situations, if the responding law enforcement agency believes that an individual has committed domestic violence the officer on scene must make an arrest.
What If The Alleged Victim Does Not Show Up For Court ?
This is the most frequently asked question. Many clients mistakenly believe that if the alleged victim fails to show up for a domestic violence trial that the case must be dismissed. This is not always true. If there are independent witnesses, for example, a family member or a child of the parties, the prosecutor can proceed with the domestic violence case based on these other witnesses.
For misdemeanors in California the prosecutor has up to one year to file charges and in a felony case the prosecutor, in most felony cases, has up to three years to file charges. This means that if the alleged victim, or a material witness, fails to appear in court, the prosecutor will use this time to find the victim or material witness. Once the witness is found, the prosecutor may place the witness in jail pending their testimony at trial.
Do not bet your freedom that the alleged victim will not show up. The prosecution has almost unlimited resources and a well-armed police force at its disposal for the prosecution of domestic violence cases. In almost all cases the prosecution uses these resources to subpoena the alleged victim and get them before the court. If the alleged victim is properly served with a subpoena and he or she fails to appear in court, the prosecution can generally show good cause to continue your trial until the alleged victim is located. Not only can a witness be placed in jail until they testify, but disobedience of a lawfully issued subpoena can lead to a contempt of court charge and a fine.
If I Am Convicted Of Domestic Violence Will I Go To Prison?
Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to that question. Whether an individual accused in a domestic violence case is sent to prison or granted probation depends on your specific background and the specific facts of your domestic violence case. If you are convicted and denied probation in your felony domestic violence case, you will be sent to state prison. A domestic violence conviction is exempt from local prison under California Penal Code section 1170(h), and once released from prison on your felony domestic violence conviction you will be placed on post-release community supervision or parole. Only a criminal defense attorney who is familiar with domestic violence cases and the punishments associated with a domestic violence conviction can properly advise you on the specifics of your domestic violence case. Northern California attorney Jacob D. Zamora, the managing attorney of the Sierra Law Center, APC, is well versed in all aspects of domestic violence, including the possible punishments in domestic violence cases.
If I Am Charged With Domestic Violence Can I Still See My Children?
Maybe. The California Penal Code Section 136.2(e)(1)provides that in all cases where the defendant is charged with a crime of domestic violence the court shall consider issuing a domestic violence protective order on its own motion. You are entitled to receive a copy of the orders, but that is certainly of little comfort if you are prevented from seeing your children.
A domestic violence criminal protective order, if issued by a Court, will generally prevent you from making contact with the alleged victim. This preclusion will, in some domestic violence cases, require you to stay away from your children and your home. The law in the area of domestic violence restraining orders is constantly changing. There are different statutes that may allow a domestic violence court to issue a domestic violence protective order. A criminal defense attorney familiar with domestic violence cases can tell you which statute applies in your domestic violence case. You need the advice of an attorney that keeps current on all aspects of domestic violence and criminal defense. Northern California attorney Jacob D. Zamora, the president of Sierra Law Center, APC, keeps up to date on the changes in the law of domestic violence and is familiar with the various ways a domestic violence protective order can be issued. It is important to obtain a consultation with a qualified criminal defense attorney because a domestic violence criminal protective order can greatly affect your rights, including your gun rights.
What Are The Penalties Or Punishment For A Domestic Violence Conviction?
The penalties for a domestic violence conviction can vary dramatically depending on the case. In some cases, you can be charged with a misdemeanor, and although not as serious as a felony, can still have a significant impact on your life. If the injury to your spouse is severe, the prosecuting agency could charge the domestic violence case as a felony which is the highest class of crime. In addition, if the prosecuting agency decides to charge a great bodily injury allegation the felony will become a violent felony and is a “strike” offense under California Three Strikes Law. A conviction for a violent felony will have significant, immediate and long-term effects on your life and could and probably will result in a felony state prison sentence. Depending on your prior criminal record, if you are convicted of a felony domestic violence charge you could face up to four years in state prison. If you suffered a prior domestic violence conviction within seven years of the current domestic violence offense you could be sent to state prison for up to five years. And if the great bodily injury enhancement is also alleged, it can add up to an additional five consecutive years in state prison. If you are granted probation in your domestic violence case it can be up to three years of formal supervision. In addition, you will have to pay certain fines and fees, including a domestic violence fine. The fine in a felony domestic violence case can be as high as Six Thousand Dollars. But the most intrusive part of your domestic violence probation is the 52-week domestic violence recovery program, (some times referred to as domestic violence abuse program, or a batterers treatment program), you will be required to attend. In most cases, you will need to pay for the domestic violence program, generally on a sliding scale. You will be required to attend the domestic violence recovery program once per week for approximately two hours. If you get too many unexcused absences from the domestic violence recovery program you can be terminated from the program, which will be considered a violation of your domestic violence probation and could land you in state prison. If you are charged with domestic violence, whether a misdemeanor or felony, you need to secure the services of a criminal defense attorney who has handled and taken domestic violence cases to trial. Contact the Sierra Law Center, APC, for a free consultation and case evaluation.
Will A Domestic Violence Conviction Affect My Gun Rights?
Without question, yes. Domestic violence convictions are considered crimes of violence. As they relate to gun rights, domestic violence convictions are governed by both federal and state law. Under California state law anyone convicted of a felony can never again, own, possess, have custody or control of a firearm, parts of a firearm or ammunition. However, under California state law a convicted felony may be able to have his or her gun rights restored with an expungement or certificate of rehabilitation. With a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction in California, there is generally a 10-year ban on possession of a firearm. Unfortunately, under federal law, anyone who has been convicted of domestic violence, whether misdemeanor or felony, will never be able to own or possess a firearm. The relevant federal statute is 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(9). Because gun rights are governed by both federal and state law, only an experienced domestic violence attorney can advise how a domestic violence conviction can affect your ability to own or possess a firearm.