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How Long Have You Been Handling Domestic Violence Cases?

I have been in the business for over forty years, and I would say I have worked with domestic violence cases where both parties are concerned. I have even represented a child once. Usually I represent the person who is accused of the crime, and it is most likely spouses involved in these cases, or occasionally, a cohabitant.

How Does California Define Domestic Violence?

The penal code in California defines domestic abuse, as abuse committed against an adult, or a minor who is a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or person with whom the suspect has had a child, is having, or has had a dating or engagement relationship. Anytime you have had any kind of relationships with another person, it is probably included in these descriptions, because you have had a domestic relationship of some sort anyway.

Are Domestic Violence Cases Often Related To Divorce Scenarios?

Not all domestic violence cases end in divorce. I have had some cases that after the divorce, there has been some animosity with people getting into arguments and physical fights, when picking up children for custody or trying to get items out of a former residence, and things like that. However, generally, it is not necessarily having anything to do with a divorce, it just happens.

How Serious Are Allegations Of Domestic Violence In California?

Ever since the OJ Simpson case, domestic violence has moved up the ladder in terms of dangerous crimes. The way they are treated now is a lot more serious than they were in the past. One of the main problems with domestic violence cases is when a person is arrested; the statutory bail in most counties is very high. What I see is a husband and wife will get into an argument, they start shoving each other around and the wife calls the cops. Law enforcement shows up, and then the wife changes her mind, she does not want him arrested. Police officers do not care; they will arrest him anyway. He will then be held on a $50,000 bail, which is typical in the county I usually practice in, and most people are struggling to make money anyway in this day. This costs a lot of money to bail a person out that is why folks change their minds often in domestic violence cases.

Most people regret the fact that they called the police. My feeling is unless you are sure that you want to get the police involved, then do not call them. If it is truly serious call them, but if it is just a misunderstanding, and you want to teach your spouse a lesson by having the police come and talk to them, think twice before you do that.

Is Someone Likely To Be Arrested If Police Are Called On A Domestic Violence Scenario?

I would say yes, usually someone will be arrested in a domestic violence call. There used to be a time when police officers would try and maybe mediate a situation, but that has become less common. Now typically, they will haul one or the other into jail, and my experience has been, it is usually the person that talks to them first, or calls it in, is the one that is not arrested. The person who talks to them secondly winds up being arrested. I mean, the first story the police hear is usually the one they go with, whether that is true or not.

What Happens If Someone Recants Allegations OF Domestic Violence?

May people make the mistake that if they do not want to bring charges then the charges should be dropped. The fact is the district attorney is the one who sets the charges, not the alleged victim. Therefore, the alleged victim does not have control over what is going to happen in the case, even if they say, “I don't want to press charges”. Many times the DA will go ahead with the charges anyway. If a victim calls the DA, and says I do not want to press charges, or testify, the DA will go ahead with it anyway on the basis that they can use the testimonies. What they said when the police arrived is usually a spontaneous utterance to the hearsay rule, even if the person does not testify.

If there is any corroborating evidence like pictures of injuries sustained in the fight, or things like that, generally speaking the fact that the victim does not want to go forward with the case or testify, may not mean anything as far as getting the charges dropped. That is another reason why we have to think carefully before you have the police involved in these calls.

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Contact Attorney Blackie Burak

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