DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DEFENSE ATTORNEY SAN BERNARDINO CA
Assault and battery are considered serious criminal offenses under any circumstances, but when allegations of assault or battery are brought by a current or former intimate partner of the accused, the stakes suddenly become much higher. What once may have been considered a private matter to be dealt with by the family itself, a domestic dispute today has the potential to lead to charges of domestic violence, a criminal offense that is punished harshly in San Bernardino. If you or a loved one is facing domestic violence charges in San Bernardino or the surrounding areas, your freedom, your reputation and your future may be at stake. Contact our experienced domestic violence defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group as soon as possible to find out how best to defend yourself against these serious criminal charges.
San Bernardino Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
If you are involved in a domestic dispute, depending on the nature and severity of the dispute, you could find yourself in criminal court facing felony charges for inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or another serious domestic violence crime. And if the prosecution is successful in getting a conviction, you could end up serving time in prison and paying exorbitant fines, among other criminal penalties, in addition to possibly losing your right to own or possess a firearm or have custody of your children, even for a first offense. Whatever the circumstances of your domestic violence case, your best option for fighting domestic violence charges in San Bernardino is to hire a criminal defense attorney who knows the ins and outs of the San Bernardino criminal justice system. At Seyb Law Group, our defense attorneys have more than 60 years of combined criminal defense experience and we are committed to protecting the rights of the criminally accused in San Bernardino and the surrounding communities. We will advocate for you and represent your best interests in court to ensure that you get the best possible outcome in your criminal case.
Domestic violence is a criminal offense governed by California Penal Code § 13700 PC, a state law that makes it a crime to harm, or threaten to harm, “an adult or a minor who is a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or person with whom the suspect has had a child or is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship.” Under this law, to commit unlawful abuse is to intentionally or recklessly cause or attempt to cause bodily injury, or to put another person in “reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to himself or herself, or another.” In San Bernardino, the crime of domestic violence is most commonly charged under one of two legal statutes: Penal Code § 273.5 PC (inflicting corporal injury on a spouse) and Penal Code § 243(e)(1) PC (domestic battery).
California Domestic Violence Penal Code § 273.5 PC & § 243(e)(1) PC
California domestic violence laws are broad and there are a number of unlawful activities that can result in domestic violence charges being filed in San Bernardino. One of the more serious domestic violence offenses is PC § 273.5, inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, which states that “any person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition” upon an intimate partner is guilty of domestic violence. Under this law, a “traumatic condition” is “a condition of the body, such as a wound, or external or internal injury, including, but not limited to, injury as a result of strangulation or suffocation, whether of a minor or serious nature, caused by a physical force.” An “intimate partner” includes any of the following:
- A current or former spouse,
- A current or former registered domestic partner,
- A current or former fiancé/fiancée,
- A current or former live-in romantic partner (also known as a cohabitant),
- A person with whom the accused has, or has had, a child, or
- Someone the defendant is seriously dating or has seriously dated in the past.
The similar but ultimately less serious domestic violence crime known as domestic battery is governed by PC § 243(e)(1), and this law makes it a crime to willfully and unlawfully touch any of the above-mentioned individuals in an offensive or harmful way. The main difference between these two crimes is that PC § 273.5 requires that the alleged victim suffers a traumatic condition as a result of the act, while PC § 243(e)(1) does not require that the victim suffer a visible injury.
San Bernardino Domestic Violence Penalties
Domestic violence crimes can be prosecuted as either misdemeanor or felony offenses, but most crimes of domestic violence are “wobblers.” A “wobbler” is a crime that can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case, the defendant’s criminal record (if any), and the severity of the alleged victim’s injuries (if any). Under PC § 273.5, inflicting corporal injury on a spouse is a wobbler offense punishable by two, three or four years in state prison (for a felony) or one year in county jail (for a misdemeanor), and/or up to $6,000 in fines. Under PC § 243(e)(1), domestic battery is a misdemeanor crime punishable by up to one year in county jail, and/or up to $2,000 in fines, for a first offense.
In addition to incarceration and a fine, there are a number of other potential consequences that may arise from a domestic violence conviction, possibly including payment of restitution to the victim(s), mandatory participation in a domestic violence treatment and counseling program, payment to a domestic violence fund, a loss of custody rights and a loss of gun rights. As crimes of domestic violence, PC § 273.5 and PC § 243(e)(1) are also considered crimes of “moral turpitude,” which means a conviction under either of these laws could cause you to lose your professional licensing, impeach your credibility as a witness, and, if you are a non-citizen, affect your immigration status, possibly resulting in deportation, removal from the country, exclusion from admission, or a denial of naturalization.
San Bernardino Restraining Order
In some San Bernardino domestic violence cases, the court may issue a restraining order, also known as a protective order, which prohibits the defendant from having any contact with the alleged victim for the duration of the protective order. To obtain a restraining order in San Bernardino, the alleged victim does not have to have suffered any physical harm. He or she must only prove that the defendant abused or threatened abuse against the victim or his or her minor child, and that the defendant is an intimate partner or family member. Violation of a protective order is itself a crime in San Bernardino, and if the defendant violates the restraining order in any way, he or she will face criminal penalties under PC § 273.6, possibly including up to one year in jail, a substantial fine, and/or mandatory counseling or domestic abuse classes.
California’s “Three Strikes” Sentencing Law
Depending on the circumstances of your case and the specific domestic violence charge you are facing, a conviction may count as a “strike” offense under California’s strict “Three Strikes” sentencing law, which imposes harsh prison sentences on defendants with multiple serious or violent felony convictions. Under this law, if you have one strike prior on your record and you are convicted of a serious or violent felony crime like domestic violence, you could face twice the prison sentence otherwise required by law for such a crime. If you have two strike priors on your record, you could face an automatic prison sentence of 25 years to life for a subsequent serious or violent felony conviction.
San Bernardino Domestic Violence Defense
The “presumption of innocence” is a legal principle that means any defendant in a criminal case is legally presumed innocent unless proven guilty. However, in cases involving domestic violence, it is easy for people to sympathize with the alleged victim and automatically assume that you are guilty, even if the alleged victim is lying. With a skilled domestic violence defense attorney on your side, you can hold the prosecution to its requisite burden of proof, which in any criminal case, is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” What that means is, in order to get a conviction for domestic violence, the prosecution will have to prove each “element” of the crime to the extent that there can be no reasonable doubt in the mind of a reasonable person that you are guilty of the crime. For instance, in order to prove that you are guilty of domestic violence, under PC § 273.5, the following elements must be established beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You willfully inflicted physical injury,
- On a current or former spouse, cohabitant, intimate partner or fellow parent, and
- The injury resulted in a “traumatic condition.”
Best Defense Strategies in San Bernardino Domestic Violence Cases
Being arrested for or charged with domestic violence may very well feel like your life is over, but it is important to remember that, no matter how hopeless your case may seem, you still have rights, including the right to legal representation and a fair trial. With a knowledgeable domestic violence defense attorney on your side to ensure that you understand the charges you are facing and apprise you of the defenses available to you based on your specific situation, you can mount a solid defense and fight the domestic violence allegations. Some possible defense strategies your attorney may be able to use in your domestic violence case include the following:
- Self–defense – You were acting in defense of yourself or another person
- Accident – The injuries the alleged victim suffered were the result of an accident
- Insufficient evidence – The prosecution does not have enough evidence to support a domestic violence charge
- Mistaken identity – You were mistakenly identified as a person who committed domestic violence
- False accusation – You were falsely accused by the alleged victim
How Hiring a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
San Bernardino law enforcement agencies and prosecutors take allegations of domestic violence extremely seriously, and an arrest for this type of crime requires immediate intervention by a skilled San Bernardino criminal defense attorney. The violent and personal nature of domestic violence means the crime carries a certain social stigma, and even allegations of domestic violence can ruin your reputation and jeopardize your career, whether or not you are formally charged with the crime or convicted of any wrongdoing. Our domestic violence defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group understand that every domestic violence case is different, with unique circumstances that can significantly affect the outcome of the case and the severity of sentencing upon conviction.
Any time you are facing charges for domestic violence in San Bernardino, your first course of action should be to consult a criminal defense lawyer with a proven history of success defending domestic violence cases. If charges have not yet been filed, an attorney may be able to intervene and prevent you from ever being arrested or prosecuted. If you have already been charged with the crime, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain on your behalf, to get your domestic violence charges reduced to a lesser offense, such as criminal trespass (PC § 602) or disturbing the peace (PC § 415), for example. Not only do these charges carry a lighter criminal sentence, they would also likely allow you to retain your gun rights and child custody rights, and in most cases, would not result in deportation or other adverse immigration consequences. If the domestic violence arrest was for a first offense and the alleged victim’s injuries are not significant, an attorney may be able to get your sentence reduced to probation and treatment in lieu of jail time.
Contact Our Skilled Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys
Believe it or not, innocent people are falsely accused of domestic violence all the time, either intentionally, perhaps by a former domestic partner who wants revenge for some personal reason, or unintentionally, because of a mistaken identification or an innocent misunderstanding. Unfortunately, the criminal justice system is flawed, and just because you didn’t commit the crime does not mean you can’t still be convicted and sent to jail. If you have been arrested for or charged with domestic violence in San Bernardino, do not hesitate to protect your legal rights. Contact our San Bernardino domestic violence defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.