Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

Although all criminal arrests in California procedurally involve the same process from the moment you’re taken into police custody through your first court appearance or arraignment hearing, investigations and arrests for domestic violence charges are conducted somewhat differently. It is critical to remember that you have a constitutional right against self-incrimination and a right to legal counsel. Thus, you should exercise your right to remain silent if you’ve been arrested or once you’ve received notice that you’ve been targeted as a suspect in a domestic violence investigation. Consulting with a criminal defense attorney with experience in domestic violence defense in California at the earliest possible stage in the investigative process can dramatically improve your chances minimizing the consequences or in some cases, avoiding domestic violence charges altogether.

Domestic Violence Prefile Investigations In California

Following a domestic violence arrest, the police department will often assign a detective or investigating officer to conduct an additional investigation to supplement the initial evidentiary findings obtained by the arresting officers. The supplemental investigation can include attempts to interview the alleged victim, witnesses, and/or you, yourself. If you are contacted by a detective, you should under no circumstances agree to be interviewed without your attorney present. You must assume the detective is not on your side and is simply attempting to gather more evidence to convict you by way of capturing an incriminating statement or admission of guilt. Detectives often manipulate people into waiving their 5th amendment rights by asking for “their side of the story.” Keep in mind, any subsequent statements that deviate from your initial statements at the time of your arrest could damage your credibility and aid the prosecution in their case against you, regardless of whether the alleged victim agrees to cooperate with police and prosecutors. Thus, your desire to have your version heard can have an adverse effect as it can impair the defense of your case.

A 28-year-old Los Angeles man has been arrested for allegedly violating the restraining order his ex-wife filed against him. According to a news report in The Santa Monica Mirror, the man was arrested in the 1400 block of Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica. Officers say his ex-wife refused to let him enter her residence and called the authorities when he refused to leave. He was arrested and charged with violating a domestic violence restraining order, and his bail was set at $60,000.

There are many consequences that result from being convicted of domestic violence in Los Angeles. A misdemeanor domestic violence conviction can result in:

  • a jail sentence of up to one year in county jail;
  • mandatory attendance in a counseling program;
  • up to 40 hours of community service or physical labor;
  • substantial court fines;
  • a stay-away order from the victim including the requirement of moving out of a shared residence;
  • “No Harm, No Strike” order; and/or
  • creation of a criminal record.

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Protective orders exist to shield individuals from harm and harassment. Under the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (DVPA) individuals may be separated for a period of time while a resolution for the cause of the alleged violence is determined. Those who may be considered for protection under DVPA include spouses, cohabitants, those in a dating relationship, and children.

Protective orders may not be issued unless there is clear evidence of possible abuse. Abuse is not, however, limited to physical harm. The DVPA may be enacted if there is intentional bodily injury, sexual assault, or a threat of physical violence. Common forms of protective orders include temporary custody orders that restrict the way a parent can visit with a child, a dwelling exclusion that prevents a party from using a common dwelling for a period of time, a wiretap order that records conversations between an alleged victim and their spouse, and a restitution order that may fine someone charged with domestic violence in California.

Many domestic violence cases arise out of false allegations, misunderstandings and ulterior motives. Anyone facing false allegations of domestic abuse would be well-advised to speak with a skilled Orange County criminal defense attorney right away. It may be possible to have the charges reduced or thrown out depending upon the circumstances of the case.

Three lives have been lost due to domestic violence in Orange County, California. It is believed that a 40-year-old man killed his 46-year-old wife and their 8-year-old daughter. He then committed suicide. The Orange County Register reports that the apparent murder-suicide took place at a Fountain Valley home on November 5, with a woman being shot in the driveway and the man and child dying inside the house. Police found several other individuals hiding in a bathroom in the house.

According to the article, law enforcement believes a child custody dispute may have played a factor in the domestic violence and deaths. The woman filed a petition to dissolve the couple’s marriage last month. However, no specific custody arrangement had been established. Police officers arrived at the scene after receiving reports of domestic violence.

Violent incidents similar to this story raise many questions, pose unimaginable challenges to grieving family members, and can send waves of shock through a community. From a legal standpoint, no violent crime is ever easy to investigate. Domestic violence, such as battery, spousal abuse or murder charges expose you to the most challenging times in life. This is why someone charged with domestic violence or spousal abuse will need attorneys with years of experience.

By now, just about everyone has heard about the domestic violence allegations against Mel Gibson. A recent People Magazine story includes insight from several legal professionals, including Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, Steve Sitkoff, regarding what is at stake in this criminal investigation amidst a heated child custody battle.

When asked if the leaked tapes allegedly of Mel Gibson and ex-girlfriend, Oksana Grigorieva, will be admissible in court, Mr. Sitkoff stated, “In general, it’s illegal to tape someone without their knowledge but it’s sometimes allowed in domestic violence situations.” However, Mr. Sitkoff makes the important point that the law in that regard is not always so apparent due to a substantial amount of gray area. Mr. Sitkoff continues, stating, “If the tapes are deemed illegal, they won’t exist to a jury. The motive of the taping appears suspect; Oksana is extremely calm and appears to be provoking him. And if Mel was under the influence while making his threats, that would make it even harder to prove criminal intent.”

In addition to Mr. Sitkoff’s contribution to readers’ understanding of the legality of evidence in the Mel Gibson domestic violence case, other matters covered in the article relate to potential jail time for Mr. Gibson, extortion charges against Oksana, the court’s denial of Oksana’s request for all of Gibson’s custody rights to be taken away, and the question of the tapes’ authenticity.

Well known actor Mel Gibson is being investigated for alleged domestic violence, according to a Contra Costa Times article. The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department released a statement referring to an incident on January 6 between Mel Gibson and former girlfriend.

Law enforcement began investigating the allegations against Mr. Gibson after being contacted by the alleged victim. The article mentions that the couple has been involved in a heated child custody dispute over their 8-month-old daughter. A domestic violence restraining order was filed on June 25, alleging that Mr. Gibson punched her in the face multiple times. However, it is reported that sources have said that Gibson denied the allegation, stating that Mr. Gibson was just trying to stop Grigorieva from hurting the infant. Additional details regarding the domestic violence charges and any potential evidence have not been disclosed at this time.

Los Angeles domestic violence allegations should not be made or taken lightly. Many of these allegations are made after heated arguments, creating the potential for exaggeration. Those convicted of domestic violence, or spousal abuse, face severe penalties and life-altering consequences, making false domestic violence convictions all the more serious.
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Some people are surprised to learn that domestic violence doesn’t have to be between a husband and a wife. It can be between two people in a relationship or who used to be in a relationship. Domestic violence can also involve children and the elderly. Serious penalties can await the individual who caused physical harm or made threats, despite being a male or a female. Police officers can make an arrest and issue a report for misdemeanor or felony prosecution if they have reasonable belief that a wrongful act of violence or threat was made. A recent and very public California domestic violence case involves pop-icons Rihanna and Chris Brown.

Rihanna, 21 was subpoenaed to appear in a Los Angeles court on June 22, 2009 to give her testimony against Chris Brown, 20 for an alleged domestic violence assault that occurred more than four months ago. sought a legal opinion from LA criminal defense attorney, Stephen David Sitkoff, as to whether the prosecution would consider Rihanna a reliable witness. Sitkoff stated, “Prosecutors wouldn’t bring her in to testify if they didn’t think she was going to be a solid witness…if Rihanna was going to change her story out of fear or to protect Brown, it generally would’ve happened by now.”

This preliminary hearing would have established if there was substantial evidence for a trial against Brown and whether his two felony charges-assault and making criminal threats–would be dismissed or reduced.
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Singer Chris Brown has pleaded not guilty to two charges of felony assault in a domestic violence case against him, according to this CNN report. The 19-year-old Brown is facing charges of assaulting singer Rihanna, his former girlfriend. If convicted of these charges, the sentence could range from probation to four years and eight months in prison. The alleged attack occurred in February that began when 21-year-old Rihanna, who had been dating Brown, found a text message from another woman on his cell phone. Brown issued a public apology for the incident in February.

In this case, Chris Brown has also been charged with making criminal threats. What is a criminal threat? California Penal Code section 422 states that you can be charged with a crime if you threaten to kill or inflict great bodily injury, even if you don’t intend to carry out the act. The threat can be verbal, in writing through e-mail or texting via cell phone. The only requirement for this charge is that a person is reasonably fearful for his or her personal safety. A criminal threat charge is a “wobbler,” which means that it could be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

You don’t have to be married in order to face a California domestic violence charge. You could be living with your girlfriend or even go out on a first date and an incident stemming from such relationships could be viewed as “domestic violence.” If you are facing an assault or domestic violence charge, please get in touch with an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer, who has the experience and the resources to build your defense and obtain the best possible result in your case. Call Sitkoff & Hanrahan for a free and confidential consultation.

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