Undoubtedly, domestic violence is a very serious matter. In fact, in California alone, law enforcement agencies receive more than 150,000 domestic violence calls every year.
Nearly a third of these calls (over 46,000) lead to arrests for domestic violence. Most of these arrests lead to prosecution and domestic violence charges. In many cases, charges are filed even though the alleged victim’s claims are baseless or insufficient, only because the accused party failed to protect himself or herself properly and in a timely manner.
People accused of domestic violence often fail in their efforts to mount a successful defense for two reasons: the police, district attorneys, and prosecutors treat domestic violence claims seriously and almost always side with the victim. And the second reason is that there are many myths that have been misleading both the accusers and accused in domestic violence cases.
We invited our Los Angeles domestic violence defense attorney from the Okabe & Haushalter law firm to debunk some of the most common myths surrounding domestic violence in California.
People in Los Angeles and all across California wrongly believe that domestic violence protections extend only to spouses. Apart from a spousal battery and physical abuse of a spouse, domestic violence laws in California also protect current and former members of a household, as well as current and former intimate partners and cohabitants.
If you only told your spouse “I will kill you” but did not physically abuse him or her, it does not necessarily mean that you are out of harm’s way. In fact, verbal abuse against a spouse, member of a household, intimate partner and cohabitant is just as serious as physical abuse, according to California laws.
Even if you know for a fact that you did not commit the act of domestic violence you are being accused of by your spouse or partner does not mean that you can avoid getting arrested. “The worst thing you can do at that point is resisting an arresting officer,” says our experienced domestic violence defense attorney in Los Angeles. Do not resist an arrest. Remember: you will have your chance and legal right to prove your innocence and defend yourself against the domestic violence charges.
Domestic violence allegations from spouses, partners, and cohabitants are treated equally seriously by the police, district attorneys, and prosecutors. According to California law, a “cohabitant” is someone who is unrelated to you but has been living with you for “a substantial period of time, resulting in some permanency of the relationship.”
In the past, a person accused of domestic violence coerced the accuser to drop the charges, which resulted in the dismissal of the case. But lawmakers in California have revised the law ever since, and now only the prosecutor can press charges or dismiss the case. Even if the accuser recants the statements or continues the relationship with the defendant, only the prosecutor can decide whether to dismiss the charges or not. Typically, a domestic violence case can be dismissed if your Los Angeles domestic violence defense attorney can show evidence that the accusations are false or exaggerated, or you were acting in self-defense.
While many domestic violence charges lead to community service, fines, counseling and other penalties, they can also result in jail time. Besides, penalties for domestic violence in California include anger management classes, AA meetings, therapy, and substance abuse programs, among other things.
Getting arrested on suspicion of domestic violence does not make you guilty. There is still a way to protect your rights, mount a criminal defense, avoid or reduce the penalties, and fight for your freedom and dignity. Get legal advice from our best domestic violence defense lawyers in California here at the Okabe & Haushalter law firm. Schedule a free consultation by calling our offices at 310-430-7799 or complete this contact form.