Long Beach criminal attorney Matthew Kaestner is immediately available to provide discreet and expert advice on a domestic violence accusation. He can be contacted directly at (562) 437-0200. Attorney Kaestner is a California Bar board certified criminal law specialist with over 30 years experience handling domestic violence cases.
On July 6, 2015, domestic violence attorney Kaestner obtained a not guilty verdict at trial for his client charged with domestic violence in Long Beach. (People v. M.C., Case No. 4LG02694) Attorney Kaestner has a long track record of obtaining acquittals and dismissals for his clients facing domestic violence cases in Long Beach and surrounding courts.
A.) DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAW AND PROCEDURE
The law in California encourages law enforcement agencies to develop policies that encourage the arrest of domestic violence offenders and that mandate the arrest of persons believed to have violated a protective order. [Penal Code section 13701 (a) & (b).] This law also requires the police to make "reasonable efforts" to identify the "dominant aggressor." The dominant aggressor is "the person determined to be the most significant, rather than the first, aggressor."
The phrase "domestic violence" is loosely defined as some sort of violent or threatening conduct against: a current or former spouse, fiancee, a current or former cohabitant, a person dated in the present or past, a person with whom the suspect has parented a child, or is presumed to have parented a child, a child of the suspect, a child of a person in one of the above categories, any other person related by blood or marriage within the second degree, or any person who is 65 years of age or older and who is related to the suspect by blood or legal guardianship.
In Long Beach, when officers are called to the scene of a domestic dispute, one of the two parties is often arrested even in the absence of any corroborating evidence. Officers will make a "probable cause" arrest based upon a brief investigation and based upon the report of one of the parties as to who the "primary aggressor" was. When Long Beach officers make an arrest at the scene of a domestic disturbance, it is usually a "felony" arrest. Bail on such an arrest is $50,000.
The vast majority of arrests for domestic violence result in the filing of criminal charges against the arrestee. Charges are filed even if the alleged victim indicates an unwillingness to cooperate in the prosecution. Most of the time a misdemeanor charge is filed unless the arrestee has a very bad record, prior convictions for domestic violence, or the incident resulted in severe injuries. The charge filed is typically Penal Code section 273.5, domestic violence causing a "traumatic condition" which means any sort of injury.
Persons arrested for domestic violence who don't bail out immediately, are entitled to be brought before a judge and advised of the charges within 48 court hours of the arrest. In Long Beach, first offenders charged with misdemeanor offenses are usually offered the lawful minimum sentence, and immediate release, in exchange for a guilty plea. This means that many offenders who can't make bail, plead guilty just to get out. Many first offenders, even those with a verified residence and long term employment history will not be released if they plead not guilty. Persons who have bailed out are in the best position to fight the charge. A person charged with domestic violence is entitled to have a jury decide the case and will only be found guilty if a unanimous jury finds guilt proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
B. PENALTIES AND CONSEQUENCES OF A DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTION
A charge of domestic violence causing injury can carry up to one year in jail as a misdemeanor and up to three years as a felony. A plea of guilty to any crime involving domestic violence requires completion a one year domestic violence counseling class, participation in Caltrans work, fines, fees and probation.
A restraining order is almost always issued as a condition of probation. Starting in 2012 a court can issue an a restraining order or "protective order" in domestic violence cases regardless of whether the defendant is sentenced to the state prison or a county jail, or [granted] probation. The order would be valid for up to 10 years, as determined by the court.
A conviction for domestic violence will result in a minimum 10 year firearm prohibition under California law and can result in a lifetime federal firearm prohibition. Legally present non-citizens can be deported for a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction. Persons with domestic violence convictions can find it difficult to obtain employment. In other words, a domestic violence conviction can carry consequences that can last life time.
Persons on probation for a domestic violence case are usually on probation for three years. A violation of the law or a repeated arrest for domestic violence almost certainly results in custody time. A criminal law judge can find a violation of probation without submitting the matter to a jury. The probationer is entitled to a hearing before the judge only. However, the probationer is entitled to the assistance of counsel at the hearing.
If you need a criminal defense lawyer to handle a domestic violence case, Long Beach Criminal Law attorney Matthew Kaestner has the knowledge and experience to defend you or a loved one. Please call him directly at (562) 437-0200.