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Torrance Domestic Violence Lawyer
Experienced Representation Against Domestic Violence Charges in South Bay, Redondo Beach, Long Beach, and Hermosa Beach
California courts treat domestic violence more seriously than other types of abuse. It is important to understand that domestic violence is not limited to abuse perpetrated by a spouse or ex-spouse. It also covers acts committed by partners or former partners, fiancés or ex-fiancés, someone who lives with or used to live with the victim or a parent of the victim’s child.
During his 8+ year tenure with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office, our Torrance domestic violence lawyer prosecuted almost every type of crime in California. We know how these serious matters are adjudicated and can provide the aggressive representation you need when facing these charges. Our team at the Law Offices of J. Patrick Carey handles cases involving allegations of spousal battery, child abuse, corporal injury, assault with a deadly weapon, and more.
Are you facing a domestic violence charge in California? Call the Law Offices of J. Patrick Carey today at (310) 695-1118 or contact us online to schedule a meeting with our domestic violence attorney in Torrance!
What Constitutes Domestic Violence in California?
Under California law, domestic violence encompasses more actions and behaviors than straightforward physical abuse. Subtler and more covert forms of verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse may be considered domestic violence. It is also illegal to financially abuse an elderly or dependent adult.
Examples of domestic violence in California include:
- Deliberately striking, pushing, shoving, kicking, throwing objects at, or otherwise physically harming someone
- Sexually assaulting someone
- Stalking, following, or harassing someone
- Preventing someone from freely coming or going
- Destroying someone’s personal property
- Physically harming a family pet
- Putting someone in a situation where they reasonably fear immediate and serious physical injury
The list above is not comprehensive, and domestic violence may also take more subtle forms, such as verbal, emotional, or psychological abuse. Remember that in addition to all these forms of abuse, California also makes it a crime to abuse an elderly or dependent adult financially.
Types of Domestic Violence Crimes in California
Domestic violence is a serious crime in California, and several types of domestic violence offenses can result in criminal charges. Here are some of the most common types of domestic violence crimes in California:
- Domestic Battery: This is the intentional and unlawful touching of an intimate partner, such as a spouse or a cohabitant, that is harmful or offensive.
- Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant: This is the intentional infliction of physical injury on an intimate partner.
- Child Abuse: This is the intentional infliction of physical or emotional injury on a child. Child abuse can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the offense and whether it caused injury to the child.
- Criminal Threats: This is a threat of violence intended to cause fear in the victim. Criminal threats can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the threat and whether the victim was in fear of harm.
- Stalking: This is a course of conduct intended to harass or intimidate another person. Stalking can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the offense.
It's important to note that these are just some examples of domestic violence crimes in California. Other offenses can also be considered domestic violence, such as sexual assault, kidnapping, and false imprisonment. If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence charges, it's important to seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Start your defense with our Torrance domestic violence attorney today!
Corporal Injury & Spousal Battery in California
The charges most associated with domestic violence are "corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant" and "spousal battery." The specific charges someone will face will depend on the case's unique circumstances.
Corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant is a "wobbler" offense, which can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. Prosecutors generally choose to charge this offense as a felony. Under California's "Three Strikes" Law, a felony conviction could result in up to 25 years of imprisonment. To prove these charges, prosecutors must establish that the defendant's deliberate intent to inflict physical injury resulted in the victim sustaining a "traumatic condition." The prosecution does not have to prove the defendant specifically intended to cause a traumatic condition: They only have to demonstrate "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant's intent to harm the victim resulted in a more serious injury.
Say a defendant throws a textbook at the victim. The book's impact on the victim's face caused them to stumble and fall down the nearby steps, resulting in a broken leg. Because the defendant intended to cause harm by throwing the textbook at the victim, it does not matter that they did not intend for the victim to fall down the stairs. Spousal battery is typically charged as a misdemeanor and occurs when a victim is subject to unwanted and/or aggressive physical contact. The victim does not necessarily have to be physically injured or harmed. For example, someone may face these charges if they strike their ex-partner but cause no lasting injuries. Even a misdemeanor can result in prison time. Our Torrance domestic violence attorney has 15 years of legal experience and is ready to defend you aggressively against these charges.
What is the Difference Between Corporal Injury and Spousal Battery?
The primary difference between corporal injury and spousal battery is the severity of the physical harm inflicted on the intimate partner. Corporal injury involves the intentional infliction of a physical injury. In contrast, spousal battery involves any willful use of force or violence that causes harmful or offensive touching, regardless of whether an injury is inflicted.
What are the Penalties for Domestic Violence in California?
California prosecutors tend to aggressively prosecute domestic violence charges and may seek maximum penalties. A convicted individual can face a litany of serious consequences.
In California, a criminal conviction in a domestic violence case can result in:
- Mandatory participation in intervention programs
- Custody loss or restrictions
- A permanent criminal record
The possibility of being slapped with costly fines alone can justify the hiring of our skilled Torrance domestic violence lawyer. Pat Carey spent time at the District Attorneys Office exclusively prosecuting cases involving domestic violence. We know how to approach these charges and are prepared to put our experience to work for you.
What is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is a court order that is intended to help protect victims of abuse from their abusers. In the restraining order, the court may order the restrained person to:
- Not harass, attack, strike, threaten, assault (including sexually), molest, or hit the victim;
- Not follow, stalk, keep them under surveillance, or block the victim’s movements;
- Not destroy the victim’s personal property or otherwise disturb the peace;
- Not contact anyone protected under the order either directly or indirectly (including by phone, email, or other electronic means);
- Stay a specified distance away from the victim, the victim’s home, job, school, vehicle, family pet, and/or the victim’s child’s school;
- Move out of the victim’s house;
- Not possess or purchase any new guns, and to turn in any existing guns to law enforcement (or sell them to a gun dealer);
- Follow court-ordered custody and visitation arrangements;
- Pay child and/or spousal or partner support; and
- Give or return specified property to the victim.
It is important to know that a restraining order issued by a California court is valid in any of the 50 states. Further, it is a crime to violate the conditions specified in the order. If a defendant is found in violation of a restraining order, he or she may face court fines, penalties, and even imprisonment.
California Restraining Order Requirements
When a victim reports allegations of corporal injury or spousal battery to law enforcement, prosecutors will determine whether to file charges. Victims can also seek a domestic violence restraining order through the civil justice system.
A restraining order can require the defendant to:
- Not contact the victim
- Remain a specified distance from the victim, their school, their place of employment, and their immediate family members
- Vacate the victim’s home
- Not destroy or take the victim’s personal property
- Not stalk, harm, or intimidate the victim
- Not purchase any new firearms and surrender existing firearms
- Pay child, spousal, and/or partner support
- Follow custodial arrangements
Can the Victim Drop Domestic Violence Charges?
In California, the decision to file criminal charges in a domestic violence case is generally up to the prosecutor, not the victim. Once the case has been filed, it is up to the prosecutor to decide whether to pursue the charges or to drop them. However, victims of domestic violence do have some influence in the process. Victims are often called upon to testify in court and may be asked to provide input to the prosecutor regarding their wishes for how the case should proceed. In some cases, victims may request that charges be dropped or reduced, but the prosecutor may continue with the case despite the victim's wishes. It's important to note that even if a victim requests that charges be dropped, the prosecutor may still have enough evidence to pursue the case. The court may also consider other factors, such as public safety concerns, in deciding whether to proceed with the case. Additionally, victims of domestic violence may be subject to a subpoena and required to testify in court, even if they no longer wish to pursue charges.
Contact Our Torrance Domestic Violence Attorney Today
Domestic violence is a serious offense in California, resulting in significant penalties, including imprisonment and fines. If you have been charged with domestic violence, it is essential to seek legal representation from an domestic violence attorney in Torrance who can provide guidance throughout the legal process and protect your rights.
Contact the Law Offices of J. Patrick Carey today to schedule a consultation with our domestic violence lawyer in Torrance!
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