Domestic Violence | Resources

LIBRARY ARTICLE: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Los Angeles Domestic Violence | Los Angeles Defense Attorney
Law Offices of Robert Ernenwein

A domestic violence charge in California is extremely severe. Over the past decades, there has been intense societal pressure on law enforcement and the judicial system to penalize perpetrators of domestic violence as harshly as possible. This is due to increased concern over the downward spiral which domestic violence can take, oftentimes resulting in tragic consequences. By imposing harsh penalties on perpetrators of domestic violence, lawmakers believe this can help deter and reduce future instances of domestic violence. To reach this goal, the Prosecutor’s office has specially-assigned Domestic Violence Units whose job it is prosecute you aggressively if you have been charged with Domestic Violence. Therefore, you should expect the Prosecutor to launch a uniquely determined effort to convict you.

Robert Ernenwein is a former Los Angeles Deputy District Attorney and is a Torrance criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of experience defending persons accused of domestic violence. Robert Ernenwein is also Certified as a Criminal Law Specialist by the California State Bar Board of Legal Specialization and has been named a “Super Lawyer” by Los Angeles Magazine. Robert Ernenwein has appeared as a legal analyst on multiple cable news programs, including Fox News and his experience and capabilities are unmatched.

His extensive experience and knowledge give him the tools necessary to successfully challenge a charge of domestic violence.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is physical violence, or even threatened violence, and abuse which occurs in the following relationships:

  • Married couples (also known as spousal abuse)
  • Cohabiting couples
  • Persons who have a child or children in common
  • Persons in a dating relationship or who were in a former dating relationship
  • Persons who were formerly married to each other

I didn’t even hit my spouse/significant other/etc., yet I am being charged with Domestic Violence. Why?

That’s because practically any form of “negative” behavior against your spouse, significant other, domestic partner, or family member can be construed as domestic violence. This includes any threats, harassment, intimidation of virtually any kind. Any form of annoyance, even as “innocent” as placing a “prank call,” any stalking, degrading, taunting behavior can be used to charge and convict you of domestic violence. There are even forms of “financial abuse,” such as arbitrarily canceling a credit or debit card or hindering access to a checking account, or preventing the other party to work, can be interpreted and therefore charged as domestic violence.

Even if you never hit your spouse, domestic partner or significant other, you may have said something during a heated argument that may legally be interpreted as a criminal threat . In other words, threats alone can result in a domestic violence charge.

With the prosecutor file my case as a felony or a misdemeanor?

The Prosecutor can file domestic violence charges as a misdemeanor or a felony. This will depend on the severity of the case and whether there is a history of domestic violence.

If the victim suffered serious injuries (such as severe bruises, cuts or broken bones), your case will most likely be charged as a felony. If the victim did suffered no injury or the injury was slight, the case will more likely be filed as a misdemeanor.

If you have previously been charged and convicted of domestic violence, or if there were prior acts of reported domestic violence, the prosecutor
will usually charge the case as a felony.

If I am charged with misdemeanor domestic violence, what am I facing?

You may be required to serve a jail sentence of up to 6 months in the county jail. The court may also require you to undergo counseling (a 52-week program), perform 40 hours of community service or physical labor (CalTrans) and pay various fines.

If I am charged with felony domestic violence, what am I facing?

In addition to the other penalties, you may be sentenced to up to 3 years in the State Prison.

What will happen as far as my family is concerned? Will I be forced to stay away from my spouse (or domestic partner, significant other, family)?

It’s possible.

In virtually every case, the Prosecutor will ask the Court to issue a Protective Order against you to keep you away from the person against whom you are accused of having committed domestic violence. A Protective Order is also known as a “Stay Away” order, so that you must literally stay away from the alleged victim and any witnesses, which may include your children or other family members. You may also be ordered to stay away from your home / family dwelling.

If you violate this order, the police will come and arrest you. Additionally, it may hurt your underlying case.

In light of this, it is crucial to have an attorney to appear with you to try to modify or limit any protective order issued against you.

What if the victim doesn’t want to press charges against me?

In California, you can be arrested and prosecuted for Domestic Violence even if the victim does not want you prosecuted.

In some cases, particularly with Spousal Abuse, it is very difficult for the victim to drop charges against the abuser. The Prosecutor can proceed with the criminal case even if the alleged victim decides not to go to court. The Prosecutor is the only one who can drop charges because the victim is merely a witness in a government prosecution.

Can you help me fight these charges?

Absolutely!

Considering the severity of the penalties, which include imprisonment, substantial fines and community service, we urge you to contact us and make an appointment immediately (Link to “Contact Us” Window).

Whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony, a domestic violence conviction will go on your criminal record, which could cause you to lose your job or prevent you from getting another one. It can also impact your future employment opportunities and consequently jeopardize your family’s financial future.

Contact a Los Angeles or Orange County Criminal Defense Lawyer today at 310-375-5858 for a free case review.