Is it Possible to Avoid a DV Conviction?
False accusations of domestic violence are not uncommon. Unfortunately, once the police have been notified, there is little, if anything, the defendant or the alleged victim can do to stop the case. So what happens when there isn't enough evidence to convict someone of domestic violence, it's not clear the violence was not in self-defense, or when the alleged victim admits the allegation was false? In certain cases, the defendant may be able to walk away without a domestic violence conviction.
The bad news is these cases won't necessarily be dismissed, but the defendant certainly has a better chance of obtaining a favorable plea bargain. You should know, however, a plea bargain is a conviction, just one that is for a lesser charge. For example, you may have a corporal injury to a spouse charge reduced to a domestic battery charge. These are both domestic violence charges, but domestic battery is less serious and thus will carry a lesser sentence.
Domestic violence charges are some of the hardest to drop. It's important to understand California aggressively prosecutes all domestic violence cases, regardless of the circumstances or whether the victim admits falsehood. Not only will the victim's word matter little once law enforcement is involved, but the California criminal justice system has special prosecuting units for domestic violence cases. They have no incentive to go easy on defendants and are highly skilled in convicting those they prosecute. But don't give up hope just yet.
If you are intent on avoiding a domestic violence conviction altogether, you should be careful of a few things. Don't try to explain your side of the story before speaking with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney. You will want to make an educated decision about what kind of outcome you want to strive for and only then should you make any decisions or answer any questions. Likewise, don't agree to any plea bargains before consulting with an attorney. An attorney can try a few things to help you avoid a DV conviction. He or she can:
Contact the prosecuting attorney immediately to discuss the facts and circumstances of the case. In rare instances, the attorney can convince the prosecuting attorney that DV charges are inappropriate given the circumstances or not worth the court's time. In these cases, the prosecuting attorney can file charges for a different offense, such as harassment or disturbing the peace. These don't necessarily involve domestic violence.
Obtain a copy of the police report and challenge any questionable evidence. For example, the attorney can question whether the alleged victim was a close family or household member. If the victim was not a spouse, cohabitant, intimate partner, or someone else as defined under California Family Code 6211, then the offense cannot be charged as domestic violence. It may be charged as assault or a similar charge, but by removing the domestic violence designation you will be avoiding several penalties specific to domestic violence convictions.
Argue your actions were in self-defense. Self-defense is not domestic violence. If you were not the primary aggressor, an attorney might be able to prove you were acting in self-defense, which is not a crime.
If you are concerned about the consequences of a domestic violence conviction, you are not alone. A domestic violence conviction can result in many penalties, such as:
- Jail or prison time
- Significant fines
- Batterers' intervention program
- Loss of your gun rights
- A restraining order that will last between three and five years
- Loss of custody of your children, and
- Lifelong stigma that will hurt your chances of finding a job or housing
In light of these penalties, it's always a good idea to contact an attorney to discuss your options when facing domestic violence charges.
Speak with an experienced domestic violence defense attorney in your area if you are facing domestic violence charges and don't know where to turn. DV charges are very serious and will leave you struggling to pick up the pieces of your life. You can lose your home, the right to contact the victim, and even the custody of your children. It is well worth your time and effort to first speak with an attorney before you appear in court.
Are you facing domestic violence charges and worried about the consequences? If so, contact attorney Christopher Martens and his legal team for expert counsel. Experienced in domestic violence defense, our Visalia area legal team can advise you of your rights and help you achieve the outcome you want. With over ten years of criminal defense experience, Christopher Martens will aggressively defend your rights at trial and help you get the outcome you want. Call our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] for a free consultation.