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San Diego Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys

Skilled Criminal Defense Firm Serving Clients Facing Domestic Violence Charges in San Diego

Domestic violence refers to abuse that occurs between people who are living together, such as spouses or family members. Though often portrayed as women and children, victims can be of any age or gender. When a person is abused by a family member or loved one, they may be considered a victim of domestic violence.

jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys has over 30 years of experience and offers top-notch guidance in criminal law. Our founding attorney is a board-certified criminal law specialist who has successfully tried hundreds of cases. If you have been arrested for domestic violence in San Diego, let us apply our background and experience to defend you!

Contact us at (760) 334-5390 to schedule a consultation and initiate the process of building a robust defense strategy tailored to the specifics of your case. Get started by filling out a free case evaluation form today.

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What Is Considered Domestic Violence in California?

Under California law, you could be charged with a felony or misdemeanor for committing crimes that are considered domestic violence, which include:

  • Assault
    Assault, as defined in California Penal Code Section 240, occurs when someone unlawfully attempts to commit a violent injury to another person, coupled with the present ability to do so. Assault is typically charged as a misdemeanor in California. Penalties may include fines, probation, and up to 6 months in county jail. However, aggravating factors or prior convictions can lead to harsher penalties.
  • Battery
    Battery, as defined in California Penal Code Section 242, involves the willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon another person. Battery can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California, depending on the circumstances. Misdemeanor penalties may include fines, probation, and up to six months in county jail. Felony penalties may involve steeper fines and imprisonment in state prison.
  • Criminal threats
    Criminal threats, under California Penal Code Section 422, occur when someone willfully threatens to unlawfully kill or cause great bodily injury to another person with the specific intent to place them in fear and, as a result, the person reasonably fears for their safety or the safety of their immediate family. Criminal threats are typically charged as a felony in California. Penalties may include fines, probation, and imprisonment in state prison for up to four years.
  • Stalking
    Stalking, as defined in California Penal Code Section 646.9, involves willfully and maliciously harassing, threatening, or following another person, causing them to fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family. Stalking can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California, depending on the circumstances. Penalties may include fines, probation, and imprisonment in state prison for up to five years.
  • Sexual assault
    Sexual assault, under California Penal Code Section 243.4, encompasses various offenses under California law, including rape, forced sodomy, forced oral copulation, and sexual penetration with a foreign object. Sexual assault offenses carry severe penalties, including lengthy prison sentences, registration as a sex offender, and mandatory counseling or treatment programs.
  • Rape
    Rape, under California Penal Code Section 261, involves engaging in sexual intercourse with another person without their consent. Rape is a felony offense in California, carrying significant penalties such as imprisonment in state prison for a term of three, six, or eight years. However, penalties can increase substantially depending on aggravating factors or prior convictions.

Domestic battery is different than battery. While battery is generically defined as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence against another person, section 243(e)(1) of California's penal code specifically addresses what could be called "domestic battery." This code section specifies the appropriate punishment for battery committed against one of the following persons:

  • A spouse or former spouse;
  • A person with whom the accused was cohabiting;
  • A present or former fiancé or fiancée;
  • A person the accused is or was dating or engaged to; or
  • The parent of the accused’s child.

Corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant requires the use of force, just like battery. But when that force results in "corporal injury" leading to a traumatic condition, the accused may be charged with a felony. Under section 273.5 of the California Penal Code, intentional infliction of corporal injury is punishable by imprisonment when committed against the following persons:

  • A parent of the accused’s child;
  • A person that is, or was, in a dating relationship with the accused; or
  • A current or former:
    • Spouse;
    • Fiancé or fiancée;
    • Registered domestic partner; or
    • Live-in partner.

James N. Dicks is a San San Diego criminal lawyer who knows how to handle your domestic violence case. As a former police officer, he has experience with both sides of the issue, giving him greater insight into how to defend someone against such charges. With his solid understanding of California's laws and regulations, attorney James N. Dicks is ready to defend you against any domestic violence charge.

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What Is the Process for a San Diego Domestic Violence Case?

In San Diego, domestic violence charges are handled the same regardless of the type or severity of violence.

  • Arrest: While California law does not require it, police are strongly encouraged to make an arrest when responding to a domestic violence call. Arrest is mandatory, however, when a protective or restraining order has been violated. While officers making these arrests may be doing so according to their best judgment and in the interests of public safety, it can have serious consequences for innocent people who are taken into custody after being wrongfully accused.
  • Before Charges are Filed: After the initial arrest, the district attorney will gather information to allow the individual to decide whether to file formal charges. It is important for you, the accused, to use this time to gather as much information as possible. Not only should you immediately begin collecting evidence to support your defense, but your attorney may speak to the prosecutor before charges are filed and be able to get them reduced or even prevent a charge from being filed at all.
  • Arraignment and Pretrial: Once charges are filed, there will be an initial court date called an arraignment. This is where the judge will formally read to you the charges and ask how you plead. If you plead guilty, the judge will sentence you right away. If you plead not guilty, depending on whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony, one of two things will happen. In the case of a misdemeanor, a pretrial conference will be set, where the judge, the district attorney, and your lawyer will meet to discuss the case. If you have been charged with a felony, there will be a preliminary hearing so the judge can determine whether the district attorney has enough evidence to prosecute.
  • Trial: The final part of the process is the trial. Few domestic violence cases get that far, as most defendants enter into a plea agreement before it gets to that point. If the case goes to trial, the prosecution must prove the charges against the defendant "beyond a reasonable doubt." Without a subpoena, the alleged victim does not have to testify. But, in cases where the alleged victim did not wish to press charges and the district attorney filed the case anyway, the alleged victim's testimony might benefit the defense. If you are the defendant, the trial is your last opportunity to prove your innocence, so you want to make sure you have the best representation possible to make sure you are not wrongfully convicted.

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Taking Steps to Protect Your Rights in San Diego

When accused of domestic violence, it is crucial to take proactive steps to protect your rights and interests immediately after an arrest. Taking the following steps can go a long way toward protecting your legal rights and interests:

  • Exercise Your Right to Remain Silent: Upon being accused of domestic violence, exercise your right to remain silent. Refrain from making any statements to law enforcement officers or investigators without the presence of your attorney. Anything you say can be used against you in court, so it is essential to avoid discussing the allegations without the protection of legal representation.
  • Contact an Experienced Attorney: Seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney specializing in domestic violence cases. A skilled attorney can provide personalized legal advice, guide you through the legal process, and develop a robust defense strategy tailored to your case. Choose an attorney with a successful track record in resolving domestic violence cases.
  • Gather Evidence and Documentation: Collect any evidence or documentation that may support your defense. This may include text messages, emails, voicemails, photos, or witness statements that contradict the allegations or provide context to the situation. Preserve any evidence that could be relevant to your case.
  • Adhere to Court Orders and Restraining Orders: If a restraining order or other court orders are issued against you, it is crucial to comply. Violating court orders can have serious consequences and may further harm your case. Follow all instructions from the court and avoid contact with the alleged victim or other parties involved in the case unless otherwise permitted by the court or your attorney.
  • Attend All Court Proceedings: Attend all court hearings and proceedings related to your case. Failing to appear in court can result in additional legal consequences, including a bench warrant for your arrest. Be punctual, respectful, and cooperative during court appearances, and follow your attorney's guidance throughout the legal process.

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What Are Defense Strategies for Domestic Violence Charges?

When facing domestic violence (DV) charges, various defense strategies may be employed to protect your rights and challenge the prosecution's case. Commonly used defense strategies include:

  • False Accusation or Mistaken Identity: One of the most common defense strategies in DV cases involves asserting that the accused is falsely accused or mistaken for the perpetrator.
  • Self-Defense or Defense of Others: In some cases, the actions were taken in self-defense or defense of others to protect against the fear of imminent harm.
  • Lack of Evidence or Credibility: Additional defense strategies involve challenging the sufficiency or credibility of the evidence presented by the prosecution, questioning the reliability of witnesses, noting inconsistencies in the accuser's statements, or having insufficient physical evidence to support the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Violation of Constitutional Rights: Our criminal lawyers also argue that law enforcement officers violated the accused's constitutional rights, such as the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures or the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

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What Penalties Are Enforced for Domestic Violence in San Diego?

Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, it is important to understand that your future and freedom may be at stake when facing allegations of domestic violence or abuse in Vista or San Diego.

Criminal penalties can include:

  • Three years of probation;
  • 52 weeks of domestic violence counseling;
  • A fine;
  • Restitution to the victim;
  • Public service work; and/or
  • Jail time.

In addition to the penalties enforced by a criminal court, a domestic violence conviction could lead to a family court stripping you of custody rights and barring you from spending time with your children. The risks to your future freedom and happiness are too great to take any chances. No matter your situation, make sure you have qualified legal support on your side.

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The Broader Impact of Domestic Violence Convictions

Accusations of domestic violence can profoundly impact your life, regardless of their validity. These allegations can strain your relationships and tarnish your reputation. If you live with the accuser, prioritize your safety and seek support from trusted friends or family. It is crucial to remain calm and composed and ensure you are represented by counsel. Remember, an accusation does not define your character. The stigma associated with such accusations can be shocking and emotionally devastating, and our attorneys can assist you in navigating these challenging times.

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Call jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys Today for Tough Representation

California law enforcement agencies and courts have become increasingly harsh in their handling of domestic violence cases. Heightened pressure from political groups, as well as extensive media coverage and public outrage, have contributed to California's strict enforcement of domestic violence laws.

If a member of your household calls the police to report an incident, no matter how minor, you could face arrest and formal domestic violence charges. Even if your accuser does not want to press charges, the state prosecutor is empowered to decide whether or not to follow through with filing a case against you.

When you can not rely on your family or the legal system, you need a San Diego domestic violence defense lawyer you can trust — call (760) 334-5390 and speak with jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys.

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Sample of Case Results

  • Felony Domestic Violence -
    Not Guilty
  • Domestic Disturbance -
    Charges Dropped
  • Domestic Violence -
    Charge Reduced

View more case results here.

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