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What Happens When You Get Arrested for Domestic Violence in California?

If you or someone you love has just been arrested for domestic violence, you’re probably scared, confused, and wondering what you’re supposed to do next. We’ve been there with countless clients, and we know how overwhelming it can feel.

Knowledge is power in a situation like this – you need to know what comes next so you can prepare yourself.

After an arrest, you will be taken into custody and booked into jail. This means you’ll be fingerprinted, photographed, and held until you can post bail or see a judge. Once you’re out of jail, the real work begins. You’ll be facing a court case that could have serious consequences for your future, including jail time, fines, and a permanent criminal record.

But here’s the thing – you don’t have to face this alone. But the key is to act fast. The longer you wait to get legal help, the harder it will be to mount an effective defense and protect your rights. That’s why you need to call The Nieves Law Firm right now for a free, confidential consultation.

We’ve helped countless clients defend against domestic violence charges in California. We know how to build a strong defense, negotiate with prosecutors, and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

So if you’ve been arrested for domestic violence in California, don’t panic – but don’t wait, either. Call The Nieves Law Firm today, and let us fight for you.

California is a Mandatory Arrest State for Domestic Violence Cases

If you’re involved in a domestic dispute in California, officers can arrest you without actually witnessing the alleged violence. Under Penal Code Section 836(d), officers can arrest you for domestic violence if they have probable cause to believe you committed assault or battery.

In other words, if the officer has enough evidence to believe you committed domestic violence, they can arrest you on the spot or shortly thereafter.

This law applies to a wide range of relationships, including:

  • Spouses and ex-spouses
  • Current and former romantic partners (dating, engaged, or cohabiting)
  • Your children or your partner’s children
  • Relatives by blood or marriage (up to second degree)
  • Anyone 65 or older related to you by blood or legal guardianship

In California, the police are required to make an arrest, even if the alleged victim doesn’t want to press charges or later changes their story. This mandatory arrest policy aims to take domestic violence seriously, protect victims, and hold abusers accountable.

What Happens After a Domestic Violence Arrest?

From the moment you’re arrested, you’re thrown into a confusing legal process that can have serious consequences for your life and future. It’s a high-stakes situation that requires quick thinking and guidance to navigate successfully.

Here’s generally what you can expect:

Booking and Processing

After an arrest, you’ll be taken to the local police station or county jail for booking. This is when your personal information will be recorded, you’ll be fingerprinted and photographed, and your personal belongings will be confiscated. You’ll also be given the opportunity to make a phone call, which you should use to contact a trusted friend, family member, or attorney.

Arraignment Hearing

Within 48 hours of your arrest (excluding weekends and holidays), you’ll be brought before a judge for your arraignment. This is when the formal charges against you will be read if the DA has already made a charging decision.

A first-time domestic violence charge is generally prosecuted as a misdemeanor if the injuries are not severe. This means it can result in up to one year in county jail. However, many domestic abuse cases are classified as “wobbler offenses,” meaning they can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances.

Once the charges against you and your rights have been read, you’ll be asked to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest). The judge will also decide whether to set bail and impose any protective orders.

It’s crucial to have a criminal defense lawyer representing you at your arraignment. They can argue for reduced bail, challenge any unfair protective orders, and start building their defense strategy.

Pretrial Proceedings

After your arraignment, your case will enter the pretrial phase. This is when your attorney will gather evidence, review police reports, interview witnesses, and negotiate with prosecutors. In some cases, your lawyer may be able to get your charges reduced or dismissed through skillful pretrial maneuvering.

Trial or Plea Bargain

If your case isn’t resolved during pretrial, it will either head to trial or be settled through a plea bargain. At trial, your attorney will present your defense before a judge or jury, cross-examine witnesses, and argue for your acquittal. If you accept a plea bargain, you’ll plead guilty or no contest in exchange for reduced charges or a lighter sentence.

The fallout of a domestic violence arrest can be overwhelming but remember: you have rights, and you don’t have to face this situation alone. By contacting our domestic violence defense attorneys as soon as possible after your arrest, you’ll have an advocate fighting to protect your freedom and your future.

Penalties for Domestic Violence Charges in California

In California, there are two common types of domestic violence charges: Penal Code 273.5 (corporal injury to a spouse or inhabitant) and Penal Code 243(e)(1) (domestic battery).

Penal Code 273.5 is a felony that involves inflicting a “corporal injury,” resulting in even a slight physical injury to an intimate partner.

Standard penalties can include:

  • One year in county jail as a misdemeanor or up to four years in California state prison as a felony
    and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
  • On the other hand, Penal Code 243(e)(1) is a misdemeanor that involves inflicting force or physical violence on an intimate partner, even without a visible injury.

Punishment for domestic battery can include:

  • A fine of up to $2,000 and/or
  • Up to one year in county jail

However, if domestic battery causes serious injury, it becomes a felony, carrying up to four years in state prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines under Penal Code 672.

In addition to these penalties, those convicted of domestic violence may face additional consequences, such as mandatory completion of a 52-week batterer’s intervention program, a protective order against the victim, a ban on owning firearms, and potential immigration issues, including deportation and difficulty obtaining citizenship.

Defense Strategies in Domestic Violence Cases

If you’re facing domestic violence charges in California, your attorney may explore several defense strategies depending on the unique facts of your case.

Some of the most effective approaches include:

  • Self-defense or defense of others. If you were acting to protect yourself or another person from imminent harm, your attorney may argue that your actions were justified. This defense requires evidence that you reasonably believed there was a threat of violence and that the force you used was necessary to prevent it.
  • Lack of evidence. The prosecution must prove criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt. If there are inconsistencies in the accuser’s story, a lack of physical evidence, or other weaknesses in the case, your attorney may argue that the prosecution hasn’t met their burden of proof.
  • False allegations. Unfortunately, false accusations of domestic violence are not uncommon, particularly in heated divorce or child custody battles. If your attorney can gather evidence that your accuser has a history of making false reports or a motive to lie, they may be able to cast doubt on the allegations.
  • Challenging the arrest itself. If the police violated your rights during the arrest, such as conducting an illegal search or failing to read you your Miranda rights, your attorney may file a motion to suppress any illegally obtained evidence.
  • Negotiating a plea bargain. While not strictly a defense strategy, negotiating a favorable plea deal can be an effective way to resolve a domestic violence case, particularly if the evidence against you is strong. Your attorney may be able to secure reduced charges, a lighter sentence, or alternative penalties like counseling or community service.

Ultimately, the ideal defense strategy for your case will depend on the specific allegations, evidence, and circumstances involved. As your criminal defense lawyers, we’ll analyze every angle of the prosecution’s case, applicable laws, and past successful approaches to determine the best course of action.

Get the Legal Defense You Deserve at The Nieves Law Firm

If you’re facing domestic violence charges in California, you need an attorney who can protect your rights and fight for your future. At The Nieves Law Firm, we provide the aggressive defense representation you deserve.

Maybe the allegations against you are false or exaggerated, or there’s evidence that the alleged victim has a history of making baseless accusations. Maybe there were mitigating circumstances that led to the incident, or the police made mistakes in their investigation. Whatever the situation, we’ll work tirelessly to uncover the facts and build a compelling case on your behalf.

Don’t let a domestic violence arrest derail your life. Contact The Nieves Law Firm today to schedule your consultation. With our legal team on your side, you can face these charges with confidence and work towards the best possible outcome for your case.

Author Bio

Grace Goodman is a lawyer at The Nieves Law Firm, having joined the firm as an attorney in January 2021. Grace has been immersed in the world of law since she was a child, becoming the family’s fourth generation lawyer when she passed the bar in 2021. Grace handles a variety of cases at the firm, representing those facing criminal charges, pursuing post-conviction relief, and filing or contesting restraining orders.

Grace obtained her J.D. from U.C. Hastings College of Law and is a member of California State Bar.  With her immense knowledge of the justice system, Grace feverishly studies the criminal justice system in her spare time to stay up to date on changes within the legal system.

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