Domestic Violence Defense
George Kita has handled more than 100 domestic violence cases during his 20+ year criminal law career. These cases are vigorously prosecuted in LA County, and have immediate, as well as long-term consequences. If you are facing these charges, your first call should be to call Mr. Kita.
Why is prompt legal representation so critical in domestic violence cases?
First and foremost, police detectives assigned to domestic violence cases quickly contact involved parties about details. Any comment you make to police can be used to build a stronger case against you. Mr. Kita can stand between you and the system, protecting your rights.
George Kita can explore other courses of action, as well, with government agencies. He can contact the investigating detective/filing prosecutor, provide your perspective (without the risk of your self-incrimination), and make requests for alternatives such as “Case Reject,” or “Office Hearing,” rather than a criminal court filing.
Finally, if the case is filed in court, he can prepare you for the process, so you will not experience significant surprises during the court proceedings.
What are your options? Call him at 213-400-5355!
Los Angeles County Domestic Violence Investigation Process
A Los Angeles Domestic Violence Case has 5 important components:
1. Request for Police Response
Domestic Violence cases often arise from a misunderstanding or argument between spouses, those in a dating relationship, or a cohabitating couple. It is not unusual for one of the domestic parties (or friend, relative, neighbor) to call the police to calm the situation, or simply seek affirmation.
Police typically arrive with at least two officers (standard protocol), involved parties are immediately separated. Each person is then questioned by a police officer about the matter. Since the primary objective of the officers is to eliminate the risk of further conflict, the officers will delve into the history of the couple, any past events which may be considered “abusive” by any participant, as well as the details of the incident.
2. Police Evaluation/Determination of Violation
If either person in the domestic relationship has a visible mark or perceived injury, the police officers will attempt to elicit a statement or admission about its origination. In the tense moments, statements are sometimes made which may not accurately reflect the correct details. If probable cause exists to believe that domestic violence occurred (often based on an “incriminating statement”), a mandatory arrest is triggered by California Law, and an arrest will occur.
Misdemeanor Domestic Violence
Arrests coupled with injuries (visible or otherwise) including, minor scratches or redness, are typically processed under Penal Code section 243(e) (1), domestic battery, a misdemeanor. Bail in Los Angeles misdemeanor domestic violence is statutorily set at $20,000. If the arrested person cannot post a bond, they will be taken to court within two business days, to answer for the allegations in custody.
Felony Domestic Violence
Arrests which are related to injuries more substantial, such as significant bruising, or significant abrasions, etc., are generally treated at felony level, pursuant to Penal Code section 273.5- corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition of a spouse or cohabitant. Bail in Los Angeles for felony domestic violence charges is typically set at $50,000 or higher.
The level and type of charges from a domestic violence arrest is up to the discretion of the officers at the scene (with guidance of the watch commander and/or field supervisor). Because arrests “standards” are very subjective, it is possible for an arrest to be made at a felony level, and the case to move forward at a misdemeanor level at a later time. Generally, domestic violence charges are wobblers, and can be considered for misdemeanor reductions at a later time.
3. Emergency Protective Order
A domestic violence arrest in Los Angeles triggers another mechanism- the emergency protective order. In Los Angeles County, a judicial commissioner is available 24 hours a day to issue emergency protective orders in domestic violence cases. Even if the party to be protected does not desire a stay-away order, the On-Call Commissioner will typically issue the order, anyway, to avoid potential future risk in the near future. This makes it problematic for the arrested person to return to some semblance of normalcy after he or she is released from jail. In fact, this order may prevent the person from returning home.
What if I don’t want to have my spouse arrested or prosecuted?
What happens if the “complaining witness” does not want to move forward with an arrest or criminal court case? Because of a strong public policy and state law requirements, once police have a reasonable belief that Los Angeles domestic violence has occurred, the accused person is going to be arrested and will be going to jail; the opinion of the other domestic party will not be a practical part of this decision. Unfortunately, the arrest of a significant other oftentimes triggers a second arrest of the other domestic partner, for interfering with police during the original arrest.
4. Domestic Cases/New Court Orders
The first appearance in court for a domestic violence case is the arraignment. In almost every domestic violence case, the judge will order a restraining order pursuant to Penal Code section 136.2, which prohibits contact from the accused person and the “victim.” Again, this order will be issued even if the “victim” does not desire it. The primary consideration for the judge will be the safety of the “victim” involved in the case.
Depending on whether the accused person remains in custody or has bailed out, will dictate how quickly the case must move forward. If the accused person is in custody, the timeline moves swiftly. At the arraignment, the judge will generally set a preliminary hearing (felonies) or a jury trial (misdemeanors). A few exceptions exist, including, when the Domestic Violence Defense Attorney and prosecutor develop a resolution which is approved by the accused person, as well as the judge.
Any domestic violence plea should be carefully evaluated for related consequences. Even a domestic violence charge reduced to a misdemeanor may have devastating consequences to someone with a professional license (doctor, contractor, etc.). It may also be considered a crime of violence or moral turpitude, thus causing deportation, or denial of employment in the future. Your attorney will need to evaluate and advise you about these types of issues.
While domestic violence charges may result in state prison sentences, depending on the severity, most will be eligible for either felony or misdemeanor probation. Terms of probation may include, some jail, batterers counseling – 52 Week DVC Program- fines, community service, fees, protective orders, progress reviews at court, and firearm prohibitions. Any violations of probation can result in further incarceration.
5. Laws Regarding Witnesses or Victims
There is strong public and legislative policy to move forward with domestic violence cases in court, even without full cooperation of the “victim.” While CCP 1219(b) precludes a victim of domestic violence from being incarcerated for failure to testify, in 2013, an amendment to this section now allows a judge to refer domestic violence victims to a counselor for “consultation,” presumably allowing for the counselor to encourage the victim to cooperate.
Finally, in current domestic violence felony cases, the district attorney is now able to re-file a case an additional time if the reason for dismissal relates to refusal to testify in court by the victim. Thus, in felony cases, they now may be re-filed two times after a dismissal, depending on the circumstances. Thus, the justice system and legislature continue to promote furtherance of prosecution in domestic violence cases.
Learn more about your case options. Call 213-400-5355!
*Domestic violence case outcomes depend on specific facts/law.