The attorneys at Hepburn, Hernandez and Jung have many years of experience handling domestic violence cases. Mr. Hepburn, Mr. Hernandez and Mr. Jung have handled hundreds of domestic violence cases from start to finish. Many cases resulted in early dismissals and not guilty verdicts because of HHJ’s strong litigation and investigation experience. Domestic violence prosecutors have dismissed or offered better deals to HHJ’s attorneys based on their long history of success with domestic violence cases.
Domestic violence charges are serious and very stressful. The government will charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony based on the seriousness of the injury or type of offense. At your first court date, also known as an arraignment, the government will give you a copy of the complaint which contains the list of charges against you. The charging document will inform you of your maximum punishment and inform you of whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony offense.
The district attorney will usually charge misdemeanors when the injury is minor. The district attorney usually prosecutes misdemeanor domestic violence charges under Penal Code section 243(e)(1).
Penal Code section 243(e)(1): The prosecution must prove that the defendant committed battery upon the victim and at the time of the battery, the victim was the defendant’s spouse or fiancé, or an individual with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating relationship with. Battery is a harmful or offensive touching.
The district attorney will also consider charging a defendant for any threats that were made under Penal Code section 422. Penal Code section 422 may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. Penal Code section 422 is a “strike” offense if it is charged as a felony.
Penal Code section 422: The prosecution must prove the following elements: 1) the defendant willfully threatened to commit a crime resulting in death or great bodily injury to the victim 2) the defendant made the threat with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device, be taken as a threat (the defendant may or may not have had an intent of actually carrying out the threat) 3) the threatening statement on its face, and under the circumstances in which it was made, was so unequivocal, unconditional, immediate, and specific as to convey to the victim a gravity of purpose and an immediate prospect of execution, and 4) the threatening statement caused the victim to reasonably be in sustained fear for his or her own safety or for his or her immediate family’s safety.
The district attorney will also usually charge corporal injury under Penal Code section 273.5(a). Penal Code section 273.5(a) may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
Penal Code section 273.5(a): The prosecution must prove the following: 1) the defendant willfully inflicted corporal injury on a victim 2) the victim was in a dating relationship/roommate/spouse etc., with the defendant 3) the corporal injury resulted in traumatic condition, and 4) the defendant did not act in self-defense. Traumatic condition is a wound or bodily injury, even a minor injury, which was directly caused by the defendant.
It is important to have no contact with the victim or witnesses after the incident because the district attorney may charge a felony or misdemeanor for dissuading a witness from testifying under Penal Code section 136.1. Penal Code section 136.1 is a strike if it is charged as a felony.
Penal Code Section 136.1: The prosecution must prove that the defendant knowingly and maliciously prevented or attempted to prevent or dissuade a witness or victim from attending or giving testimony at any trial, proceeding, or inquiry authorized by law.
At arraignment for a domestic violence offense, the government will also serve you with a full protective order preventing you from having any contact with the alleged victim. In many cases, HHJ can get a restraining order or protective order lifted or altered in the early stages of the process, which will allow you to have peaceful contact with your loved ones.
A large misconception in domestic violence cases is that the victim decides if charges should be pressed against you. In most cases, the victim regrets calling the police. Many victims will tell the district attorney that they do not want to prosecute the case or press charges and that the information they provided earlier was incorrect or untrue. Unfortunately, in nearly every case the district attorney will still go forward with prosecuting the defendant no matter what the alleged victim says or does.
In domestic violence cases, it is important to conduct a full investigation immediately following the incident because witnesses may alter or change their story over time. Inconsistent statements may help in the trial process and in some instances may get cases dismissed before trial.
If you have been arrested for or charged with a domestic violence offense, you need to contact an attorney immediately to ensure the best outcome for your case. The government will start a full-blown investigation by gathering witnesses and evidence against you the moment you get arrested. We must do the same to make sure that exonerating evidence is preserved and that your story and defense is properly conveyed to the prosecutor, the judge, or the jury.
Please contact Hepburn, Hernandez and Jung Trial Attorneys now for a free consultation and let us help you fight your domestic violence case.