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Receiving a domestic violence charge can generate an array of emotions – worry, fear, even anger. Not knowing what to expect can make the experience that much more difficult.

A skilled domestic violence attorney can advocate for you from start to finish. Domestic violence charges in Alameda are complex; having someone in your corner can provide some security and assurance in an otherwise uncertain time.

Domestic Violence Definition

California Penal Code §273.5 states that domestic violence refers to “corporal injuries” inflicted on a spouse or cohabitant. Specifically, to count as domestic abuse, the violent or threatening behavior must be perpetrated against an intimate partner, which the law defines as:

  • Current or former spouses
  • Cohabitants/Domestic partners
  • Current or former fiancées
  • Current of formerly dating couples
  • Parents of a child

There are strict definitions for an individual to be considered an intimate partner.  For instance, a cohabitant is not a roommate but rather, factors that determine whether people are cohabiting include, but are not limited to, sexual relations between the parties while sharing the home, sharing of income or expenses, parties’ holding themselves out as domestic partners, etc.

In order to be convicted of domestic violence, the prosecution must prove that:

  • The accused willfully inflicted a physical injury (done on purpose)
  • The injury resulted in a traumatic condition (a wound or other bodily injury no matter how minor caused by the direct application of physical force).
  • The accused did not act in self-defense or defense of someone else.

An experienced domestic violence attorney can help you defend against the accusations by attacking the requisite elements.  The prosecution is required to prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt and failure to do so should and could result in exoneration.

What Happens after an Accusation of Domestic Violence?

What happens after someone is accused of domestic violence depends on whether there are additional charges and whether the charge is a misdemeanor or a felony.  Domestic violence is referred to as a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Misdemeanor VS Felony Charges

The difference between a misdemeanor and a felony is that the latter involves more serious conduct and, therefore, potentially longer incarceration time in a state penitentiary. Whereas, if someone is convicted of a misdemeanor, the maximum exposure for incarceration is one year in county jail. Depending on the situation, charges of inflicting great bodily injury (GBI) may be added on top of the domestic violence charge, in which case, it will enhance the charge and increase the state prison time upon conviction.

Regardless of the type of charge someone faces, anyone convicted of domestic violence may be placed on supervised release after incarceration, will be required to complete a 52-week domestic violence counseling/batterer’s treatment program, may be ordered to stay away from the named victim (via a criminal protective order), and may be ordered to pay substantial fines and fees. Whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, a skilled attorney in Alameda could help you navigate the complicated legal process that follows a domestic violence charge.

Common Procedure for Domestic Violence Charges in Alameda

On-scene arrests are common when someone alleges domestic violence. After an arrest is made, the first court appearance consists of the accused individual appearing before a magistrate or judge who will read the charges against them included on the complaint. The judge would also determine the accused’s custodial status – whether that person will be released on their own recognizance, meaning he or she will not be required to post bail but might need to abide by certain conditions, such as respecting the terms of a criminal protective order, or if the bail amount should be increased or decreased. OR release and the amount of bail is typically contingent on the severity of the charges filed, whether the individual is a flight risk, the risk to public safety, and the ability to afford bail.

After custodial status is addressed, the accused will have the opportunity to enter their plea of “not guilty” so they can fight the case. A future date is usually set for pretrial conference or pretrial hearing – the immediacy of that date typically depends on the individual’s waiver or non-waiver of their speedy trial rights.

After that, several court dates may take place where the attorneys are gathering discovery, negotiating based on legal and evidentiary insufficiencies, seeking mitigating or exculpatory evidence, and reaching a resolution of the case or setting for trial. An experienced local lawyer could review the facts of your domestic violence case and help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case and guide you in the decision making process regarding resolving or going to trial.

Contact an Alameda Lawyer about Domestic Violence Charges Today

An accusation of domestic violence is wrought with painful emotions. No matter what kind of domestic violence charges you are facing in Alameda, you will likely need an aggressive criminal defense attorney to ensure your matter is handled fairly. Call today for your consultation.

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