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Domestic Violence – Local Resources

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE – SAN FRANCISCO BAY AREA RESOURCES

 

  • Bay Area counselling services
  • Anger Management courses
  • Shelters
  • Child Assessment and treatment services

Do not gamble with your future. Accusations related to domestic violence can be devastating to you, your family and your career. Once an accusation is made it is critical that you have a knowledgeable expert on your side.

Our Domestic Violence lawyers includes three former prosecutors, a former police officer and attorneys educated at the country’s top law schools. We fight domestic violence charges—often resulting in dismissal, acquittal or reduced charges.

There are different kinds of services and resources available throughout the Bay Area to assist families and couples who are dealing with conflict. There are services that focus on assisting victims, those that focus on helping offenders, and those that work with entire families. Even though the courts do look positively on defendants who take action to address their issues, that is not the only reason to access these kinds of services – at Summit Defense Attorneys, we know that when clients and their loved ones are able to access the help that they need to work on their relationships, it keeps families together.

In this section, we outline some of the groups and organizations that offer domestic violence-related services throughout the Bay Area. You do not need a referral and can approach these providers on your own. However, these services do NOT provide legal assistance – if you are facing a criminal charge or someone is applying to have a restraining order made against you, you should contact a Summit Defense attorney immediately for help with your case.

 

State-wide service referrals

Navigating the vast amount of information and resources across the Bay Area and Northern California can be difficult. If you’re not sure what kind of service or help you need, you can contact the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence – they do not provide services, but can refer you to service providers across the state.

 

California Partnership to End Domestic Violence

P.O. Box 1798
Sacramento, CA 95812-1798
Toll Free: 800-524-4765
Phone: 916-444-7163
Fax: 916-444-7165

 

Counseling services

There are countless counseling services available for individuals, partners, and families. Many counselors specialize in helping families deal with conflict, and others specialize in dealing with either offenders or victims of domestic violence. An important thing to consider when choosing a counselor is not only their background and expertise, but whether you feel comfortable talking to them and are being treated in a non-judgmental and helpful way.

Some specialist counseling services in the area can be accessed as follows:

Stand! For Families Free of Violence – an organization in Contra Costa County that provides services for men, women, and children affected by family violence.

1410 Danzig Plaza, Suite 100
Concord, CA 94520

Telephone: +1 925 676 2845
Crisis Line: +1 888 215 5555
FAX: +1 925 676 0532

Marin Abused Women’s Services – provides services and support group for women, and also a men’s program.

734 A Street

San Rafael, CA 94901

Phone: (415) 457-2464

Fax: (415) 457-6457

TTY: (415) 457-2421

CORA: Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse – services for women and children, in English and Spanish.

2211 Palm Avenue
San Mateo, CA 94403

Business Line: 650-652-0800
Fax: 650-652-0808

Alameda Family Services – counseling available for individuals, couples, and families.

2325 Clement Ave.
Alameda, CA 94501
(510) 629-6300

Community United Against Violence – provides counselling services for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender victims of domestic violence.

Crisis line (415) 333-HELP
427 South Van Ness Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94103
ph: (415) 777-5500
fax: (415) 777-5565

 

Anger management courses

While everyone gets angry from time to time, some people are more easily frustrated and can seem to ‘fly off the handle’ – even if they later regret it. Anger management courses can be particularly helpful for individuals who have trouble in dealing with and expressing their emotions by helping you to learn more peaceful tactics for responding to conflict and frustrating situations.

There are many anger management courses that are run regularly across the Bay Area – a simple internet search should turn up many in your area, and some are listed below:

Abuse, Violence & Anger Cessation Alliance – programs for people who have problems with anger or violence.

342A – 9th Street, Suite 218

San Francisco, CA 94103

Main:  (415) 553‐7825

Fax:  (415) 553‐7825

Axis Community Health Mental Health Services – offers a 20 week anger management course, as well as counseling for adults, couples, families, and children.

Address: 4361 Railroad Avenue Pleasanton, CA 94566

Phone: (925) 201-6240

“VIP” Violence Intervention Program – a program of the Public Health department, they provide mental health services for trauma survivors and perpetrators.

Community Justice Center
555 Polk Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
ph: (415) 292-2565

 

Shelters/transitional housing, victim assistance, support groups

There are supportive organizations across the Bay Area that provide short-term accommodation, transitional housing, and other assistance for people who want to leave a violent home situation. These places are generally open to women and children, and provide a secure place to stay for a short period of time. There are also many services that cater to particular groups or provide services in languages other than English.

 

The Riley Center | Services for Survivors of Domestic Violence – help with transitional housing, as well as counselling and support services.

St. Vincent de Paul Society of San Francisco 
crisis line (415) 831-3535
1175 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA 94103
ph: (415) 552-2943 x206
fax:(415) 552.0337

 

Asian Women’s ShelterProvide emergency shelter, support, and counselling, with specialized services for non-English speaking Asian women and their children.
Crisis line (415) 751-0880
3543 18th Street, #19
San Francisco, CA 94110
ph: (415) 751-7110
fax: (415) 751- 0806

 

W.O.M.A.N., Inc. – city-wide San Francisco service that provides shelter availability information, and has special programs for lesbians and Latina women.
Crisis line (415) 864-4722
333 Valencia, Suite 251
San Francisco, CA 94103
ph: (415) 864-4777
fax: (415) 864-1082

 

Midway Shelter of Alameda – housing and assistance for women and children suffering from homelessness and domestic violence.

24 hour service: 1-866-A WAY OUT (1-866-292-9688)

Questions: (510) 523-2377 or (510) 357-0205 ext.206

 

A Safe Place – comprehensive domestic violence services in Oakland for women, girls, and children.

Tel: 510.986.8600

Fax: 510.986.8606

24-Hour Crisis Line:  510.536.7233

 

Building Futures – provides emergency, temporary, and short-term housing for women and children leaving family violence.

1395 Bancroft Ave.
San Leandro, CA 94577
Main Line: 510-357-0205
Fax: 510-357-0688
24-Hour Toll Free Crisis Line
1-866-A-WAY-OUT
1-866-292-9688

 

Child Assessment and Treatment Services, and Children’s Programs

Parenting Assistance

Children can sometimes witness violence and conflict in the home, such as between their parents, or between their parents and new partners. Many service providers provide special programs for children, or will be able to refer you to services that specialize in counselling and helping children to deal with witnessing trauma and conflict. There are also several service providers who specialize in parenting assistance, helping people adjust to being parents, and helping parents develop co-parenting strategies after separation.

 

Building Futures – has a specialized children’s program.

1395 Bancroft Ave.
San Leandro, CA 94577
Main Line: 510-357-0205
Fax: 510-357-0688
24-Hour Toll Free Crisis Line
1-866-A-WAY-OUT
1-866-292-9688

 

APA – Family Support Services – provides home visitation to at-risk Asian families with children 0-5; parenting education and victim support services.
10 Nottingham Place
San Francisco, CA 94133
ph: (415) 206-5450
fax: (415) 206-4778

 

Family Paths – offices in Oakland, Fremont, and Hayward. Provide family support, counseling services, and parenting classes, as well as referral to other service providers.

24-hour support and referrals: 1800-829-3777

Feel free to contact us at (888) 986-1338 for a Free Case Review or schedule a consultation online.

As the largest defense firm in the Bay Area, our Domestic Violence lawyers specialize in defending domestic violence cases. We believe that families have a right to sort out their own problems, and we do not want our clients to bear the burden of an unfair criminal conviction. Our first and foremost goal is the complete dismissal of charges. This is why we do everything possible to have these matters dismissed by the DA before charges are filed, and when necessary, vigorously defend domestic violence accusations in court.

Domestic Violence and Non-Citizens

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AND IMMIGRATION ISSUES

 

  • Immigration Expert on staff
  • Avoid deportation, denial of naturalization
  • Immigration Safe Plea Negotiations
  • H1b, F1 and other types of visa
  • Staff fluent in Spanish, Hindi, Farsi and Hebrew

A domestic violence conviction can have very serious consequences – including jail time, the imposition of restraining orders, and a permanent criminal record. And in the case of non-citizens, immigration issues present even further difficulties. The Bay Area is a melting pot, and we regularly represent immigrants from all over the world. In those cases, our defense attorneys will work with the specialist immigration attorney on our team to prioritize the protection of our client’s immigration status.

 

I’m not a US citizen – will the involvement of police raise immigration issues for me?

Yes, unfortunately it will. If you are not a citizen and you are accused of committing a domestic violence offense, you need to contact Summit Defense Attorneys immediately – we are the only defense firm in the Bay Area that has a specialist immigration attorney on our team, and he is involved in every case where a person’s immigration status is at risk.

If you are an immigrant, it is especially critical that you have an attorney who is prepared to defend your matter aggressively. We know that many people come to the Bay Area from all over the world to live and work, and many are not US citizens but are on visas, such as the H1 or H1B visa, or have green cards. We know that if you’re not a US citizen, you need extra assistance to protect against negative immigration consequences. Our clients are educated, hard-working professionals and we do not want to see them suffer the loss of their job, their good reputation, or their immigration status. We bring both our immigration and our criminal defense expertise to the table, and fight to get charges dropped.

 

If I’m not a citizen, can I leave the country with a domestic violence case pending?

Every case is different – but if you leave the country, it is possible that the Immigration and Naturalization Service (the INS) will not let you back in if you have a case pending. Our specialist immigration attorney can advise you on the best course of action to take in your case.

Immigration issues affect many of our clients, which is why we have an expert immigration attorney at Summit Defense team. He is part of the team for every case where our clients are facing immigration issues, and works with our criminal defense attorneys to develop the best strategies to preserve and protect our clients’ immigration status.

 

Our Domestic Violence lawyers includes three former prosecutors, a former police officer and attorneys educated at the country’s top law schools. We fight domestic violence charges—often resulting in dismissal, acquittal or reduced charges.

Feel free to contact us at (888) 986-1338 for a Free Case Review or schedule a consultation online.

Domestic Violence – Violation of Restraining Order

BAY AREA DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAWYERS – RESTRAINING ORDER LAWYERS

 

  • Defend against Protective or Stay away order
  • Temporary Restraining Orders
  • Emergency Protective Orders
  • Violations of Restraining and Protective Orders

RESTRAINING AND PROTECTIVE ORDERS

The rationale behind restraining and protective orders is to protect people who have been abused, or threatened with abuse. Restraining orders are not, by themselves, a criminal charge or penalty, and having a restraining order made against you does not result in a criminal conviction. However, it is an offense under Penal Code 273.6 to violate the terms of a restraining order. In cases where the DA has filed criminal charges, they will often seek a criminal protective order, sometimes known as a ‘stay-away’ order.

Unfortunately, restraining or protective orders can sometimes be imposed regardless of whether the alleged victim requests one or not. Criminal judges will often make an order with little regard for whether the victim feels it is needed – but Summit Defense will work to avoid the imposition of restraining orders wherever possible.

What are restraining and protective orders?

There are several different kinds of restraining and protective orders that a court can make, but in domestic violence cases ‘domestic violence restraining orders’ are most commonly used. These orders can be made pursuant to Division 10 of the California Family Code – otherwise known as the Domestic Violence Protection Act.

This law aims “to prevent the recurrence of acts of violence and sexual abuse and to provide for a separation of the persons involved in the domestic violence for a period sufficient to enable these persons to seek a resolution of the causes of the violence.”[23] It gives the courts the power to issue orders to protect people who allege that they have been subject to a recent incident of violence, or a threat of violence, from someone that they are in a domestic relationship with. There are three types of domestic violence restraining orders.

Emergency Restraining Orders

These are orders that the police can obtain at short notice, by calling a judge. The judge authorizes the order over the phone, and they can be made 24 hours a day.

Emergency restraining orders begin immediately, and they can last for up to seven days. These orders can include provisions that the alleged abusive person leave the home, or stay away from the alleged victim and any children. The aim of an emergency restraining order is to give the alleged victim time to go to court and properly file for a temporary restraining order, or to give the police time to investigate a matter before a criminal protective order is made.

Temporary Restraining Orders

These are orders that are in place between the time that someone applies for a restraining order, but before a full hearing is held. So, when someone goes to court to request that a restraining order be made, if the judge believes that temporary protection is warranted, they will make a temporary order.

Temporary restraining orders usually last between 20 and 25 days – that is, until the final court hearing date for the permanent order. In criminal cases, temporary orders can also be made until there is a final determination of the charges against the defendant.

’Permanent’ Restraining Orders

These orders are made once there has been a court hearing. If the person requesting the order satisfies the judge that hears the case that protection is needed, the judge can make a permanent order that lasts up to three years. At the end of that time, the order will lapse – unless the person seeking protection applies for it to be extended, and goes through another hearing to determine if an order is still warranted.

Criminal Protective Orders

In cases where criminal domestic violence charges have been filed against a defendant, the Prosecutor will usually also request a criminal protective order, sometimes also known as a ‘stay away’ order. Even if the DA does not make such a request, judges can decide to issue an order on their own volition.

Criminal protective orders operate in virtually the same way as restraining orders, and run alongside a criminal case. They usually remain temporary while the case is progressing, and can be made ‘permanent’ if the defendant is found guilty.

What is a domestic violence civil restraining order?

Even if there is no criminal case pending, a person can still apply for a civil restraining order against someone they are in a domestic relationship with. These orders are made by the Family Court, and are often seen in the context of divorce cases. They can cover situations where the person is alleging violence and threats, or where they allege harassment. Again, these orders do not represent a criminal conviction – but violating an existing order is an offense.

Who is covered by domestic violence restraining or protective orders?

Domestic violence restraining orders, and criminal protective orders, apply to people who are in close domestic or family relationships. In California, these orders can be made in relation to people who are:

  • married or registered domestic partners;
  • divorced or separated;
  • dating or used to date;
  • lived together, or used to live together – that is, ‘cohabitants’;
  • parents together of a child;
  • otherwise closely related – for example, siblings, grandparents, in-laws.[24]

 

Parents can also apply for orders on behalf of their children, and children over twelve years of age can apply for their own orders.

What are the consequences of having an order made against me?

Restraining and protective orders are court orders and, as such, must be taken seriously – criminal charges will be filed against a person who violates an order.

By making an order, the court can order you to:

  • not contact or go near you spouse, your children, other relatives, or other people who live with you;
  • move out of your house;
  • give up your gun;
  • follow child custody and visitation orders;
  • pay child support;
  • pay spousal or partner support ;
  • stay away from your pets’
  • pay certain bills; and
  • release or return certain property, usually to the protected person.

How can Summit Defense Attorneys help me with restraining orders?

In cases where the parties want to remain in contact with one another, we are usually able to persuade the judge to grant what is known as a ‘peaceful contact order’. This restrains the person from being violent or threatening the protected person, but it can still allow the person to live in the home and keeps the family together.

We understand that the usual restraining and protective orders can make day-to-day life very difficult, and can cause families great pain – that’s why we will always work to make sure that any orders made in your case are ones that you can live with. We will also aggressively defend any criminal charges against you, so as you are not subject to the additional ‘penalty’ of having a permanent order made against you that is available as a matter of public record.

Will a restraining order affect my immigration status?

Yes, a restraining order can affect your immigration status. If someone has applied for a restraining order against you, or you are already subject to an order, you should contact Summit Defense Attorneys and speak to our specialist immigration attorney immediately. Even though a restraining order is not a criminal charge, an order can still affect your immigration status if you are on a visa, trying to get legal papers, or applying for a green card. We will develop a strategy that protects your immigration status, and aggressively defend any criminal charges against you.

Will a restraining order still be made, even if we’ve reconciled and my partner doesn’t want one?

Yes, a restraining order can still be made, despite what the alleged victim wants, and regardless of whether the parties have sorted out their differences. The DA can apply for an order if there are criminal charges pending, and a judge can make an order of their own volition.

If you have reconciled with your partner, or if the alleged victim does not want an order made, your best chance of avoiding the imposition of an order – or of having a less restrictive order made – is to have an attorney from Summit Defense in court for you. When the judge is considering whether to make an order or not, and what the terms of the order should be, we can make sure that they hear all of the facts from your side, and present your relationship in the best light. We are often successful in having ‘peaceful contact’ orders granted, even in cases where criminal charges are pending. This gives our clients the best chance of being able to get on with their day-to-day lives, and to maintain their family relationships.

Can I get an order lifted, or can the victim ask for it to be dropped?

When an order is made in the context of criminal proceedings, the only person who can decide what happens to the order is the judge. If the order is not final, however, there are steps your attorney can take to make a difference.

Every case is different, but if you or your partner is unhappy with the order, or the terms of the order, you should contact a Summit Defense Attorneys to discuss how we can assist in your case.

What happens if I contact the victim when there is an order in place?

If the order made against you prohibits you from contacting or communicating with the protected person, then you must obey that order. If you violate the restraining order, and the police are informed, then they will charge you with an offense.

We outline the elements of the offense of violating a restraining order in more detail, above. If you do need to contact your partner, or if you and your partner think that the order in place is too restrictive, you should contact an attorney for assistance – we can speak to your partner on your behalf, and depending on whether the order is temporary or not, we may be able to ask the judge to impose a peaceful contact order so you and your partner can still speak to and see each other.

What evidence will the Prosecutor use to try to prove a charge of violation of a restraining order against me?

In many domestic violence matters, the police or a judge will issue a restraining order against the alleged aggressor – we explain more about restraining orders in this section of our site. Having one of those orders made against you is not, by itself, a criminal charge – but if the order is violated then an offense may have been committed.

If the Prosecutor is alleging that you violated a restraining or protection order, pursuant to Penal Code 273.6, they must prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:

  • that a court had lawfully issued a written order against you;
  • that the court order was a protective/stay-away order, or some other kind of relevant order;
  • that you knew of the court order;
  • that you had the ability to follow the court order; and
  • that you willfully/intentionally violated the court order.

Further, if the Prosecutor is alleging that you caused physical injury to the alleged victim, pursuant to Penal Code 273.6(b), they must prove a further element:

  • that your conduct resulted in physical injury to another person.

Alternatively, the Prosecutor may allege that the order was violated by an act of violence, an offense under Penal Code 273.6(d). The additional element in those matters is:

  • your conduct involved an act of violence, or a credible threat of violence.
  • Court had lawfully issued a written order

This offense is based on the existence of some kind of restraining order, so the Prosecutor must prove that, at the time the alleged offense was committed, there was actually a lawful, written order in place.

Order was a protective/stay-away order

This offense only applies to certain kinds of orders – generally, those that relate to domestic violence incidents, or those that seek to protect people in a domestic relationship with the defendant. The Prosecutor must prove that the order that was in place was the type of order specifically related to this offense.

Knew of the court order

The Prosecutor must prove that you knew of the court order, and that you had the opportunity to read it and become familiar with it. So, for example, if the police applied for a temporary restraining order, but you had not been informed of the existence of the order yet, nor had an opportunity to read it, then there is no way that you could be found of guilty of breaching the order.

Had the ability to follow the court order

Besides proving your knowledge of the court order, the Prosecutor must also prove that you had the ability to follow it. This element is not often in issue in these kinds of matters – but it may arise where, for example, the defendant has some kind of mental impairment that means they can’t control their actions.[13]

Willfully/intentionally violated the court order

To prove this charge, the Prosecutor must show that you violated the order on purpose. So, if an order states that you must not call or contact your boyfriend at all, you would be guilty of violating that order if you continually made calls and sent texts to his phone.

However, if your actions were accidental, you could not be found guilty of this offense. So, for example, you may be subject to an order that says that you have to stay a certain distance away from your ex-wife at all times. One day, you go to the local mall to buy some new shoes, and your ex-wife is there also – she sees you trying on shoes when she passes a store, and calls the police. In that situation, however, you would not be found guilty of violating the order. That is because you did not go to the mall to see your ex-wife, you did not know that she would be there, and you did not go near her on purpose.

Conduct resulted in physical injury

This element makes the offense of violating an order more serious. To prove this charge, the Prosecutor must prove that the conduct that constituted the violation of the order resulted in the alleged victim suffering some kind of physical injury. The injury does not have to be very serious, but there must be some kind of injury – such as bruising or broken skin.

It is very common for restraining orders to specify that the person must not ‘harass, attack, strike, threaten, or assault’ the protected person. In a case where this offense is charged, the Prosecutor may allege that the defendant breached the order by hitting the protected person. If that hit resulted in the protected person having a bleeding nose, for example, then it can be said that the conduct that violated the order also resulted in a physical injury.

Conduct involved act of violence, or credible threat of violence

Again, this is an element that serves to make the offense of violating a restraining order more serious. To prove this element, the Prosecutor must prove that the defendant acted violently, or that they threatened to.

An act of violence does not necessarily mean that any harm was done to the alleged victim – it could be an act of violence, for example, to throw a plate at the wall next to where the victim was standing. It could also be an act of violence if someone in the victim’s family was treated violently by the defendant.

A credible threat of violence is made when a defendant “willfully and maliciously communicates a threat to a victim of or a witness to the conduct that violated a court order. The threat must be to use force or violence against that person or that person’s family. The threat must be made with the intent and the apparent ability to carry out the threat in a way to cause the target of the threat to reasonably fear for his or her safety or the safety of his or her immediate family.”[14] So, for example, imagine that a woman is subject to an order to stay away from her ex-girlfriend’s home. However, she goes over to her girlfriend’s home, and while standing at the front door, yells inside to her girlfriend, “If you don’t let me in I’m going to break this door down and strangle you!” Even if the person left shortly after that, and never carried out the threat, the threat itself would be enough to constitute a credible threat of violence.

 

Domestic Battery Penal Code Section 243(e)(1)

BAY AREA DOMESTIC VIOLENCE LAWYERS

 

  • Our goal is the dismissal of the case against you
  • First Offender Strategies to Keep your Record Clean
  • Immigration Safe Plea Negotiations
  • Staff fluent in Spanish, Hindi, Farsi and Hebrew

 What are the penalties for Penal Code 243(e)(1) domestic battery?

This offense is a misdemeanor, and the maximum penalties include:

  • a $2,000 fine;
  • imprisonment in the county jail for up to six monthes; or
  • both a fine and imprisonment.

The court also has the option of granting probation, or suspending the imposition of a jail sentence. However, the Code specifies that if the judge makes that decision, then there must be a condition that the defendant participate in and successfully complete a ‘batterer’s treatment program’ for at least one year (or more). If there is no such program available, the court can specify another suitable program.

 

What evidence will the Prosecutor use to try to prove a charge of domestic battery against me?

If you are facing a charge of domestic battery under California Penal Code 243(e)(1), the Prosecutor will need evidence to prove the following elements beyond reasonable doubt:

  • that you willfully touched the alleged victim in a harmful or offense manner;
  • that you and the alleged victim were in one of the required types of domestic relationship; and, in some cases,
  • that you did not act in self-defense, or in the defense of another.
  • Willfully touched in a harmful or offense manner

An act is done ‘willfully’ when it is done willingly, or on purpose. So, you cannot be guilty of this offense if the touching was an accident. However, even slight touching can be enough to commit a battery is it is done in a way that is harmful or offensive – for example, done in a rude or angry manner. Further, the touching can be through the other person’s clothing, or by using an object, and it does not have to cause physical pain or injury of any kind.

For example, imagine a husband and wife are having an argument in the kitchen while the wife is washing the dishes. She picks up a rolling pin and holds it against the side of her husband’s head, which does not hurt him at all, but says, “If you don’t shut up, I’m going to knock your head in”. That kind of touching is both willful and offensive, and would satisfy this element of the offense of domestic battery.

 

Required domestic relationship

Because this charge relates to battery of someone with whom the defendant is in a domestic relationship with, the Prosecutor must prove that relationship. The kinds of relationship that offense applies to are as follows:

  • the parties are married, or used to be married;
  • the parties are cohabitants, or used to be cohabitants;
  • the parties are engaged, or used to be engaged;
  • the parties are in a dating relationship, or used to be in one; or
  • the parties have a child together.

‘Cohabitants’ does not simply mean people who live together – for example, you cannot be charged with domestic battery on your roommate. The law provides that a cohabiting relationship refers to “two unrelated persons living together for a substantial period of time, resulting in some permanency of the relationship.”[10] Several factors can be used to determine if a cohabiting relationship exists, or existed, including:

  • sexual relations between the parties while sharing the same residence,
  • sharing of income or expense,
  • joint use or ownership of property,
  • the parties holding themselves out as husband and wife, or domestic partners,
  • the continuity of the relationship, and
  • the length of the relationship.

‘Dating relationship’ means “frequent, intimate associations primarily characterized by the expectation of affection or sexual involvement independent of financial considerations.”[11]

 

Did not act in self-defense, or defense of another

The Prosecutor only has to prove this element in cases where the defendant raises the issue of self-defense – this is, where the defendant admits to touching the other person, but argues that they did so to defend themselves or someone else. Summit Defense has defended many cases where someone was accused of domestic battery when they were actually acting in self-defense. We explain more about how this defense can be used in domestic violence cases, below.

For example, consider the scenario above where the wife is holding the rolling pin to her husband’s head. The husband then pushes his wife’s hand away forcefully. If the husband was actually afraid that his wife would hurt him with the rolling pin, he would likely be able to argue that, when he pushed her hand away, he was acting in self-defense – and, therefore, not guilty of domestic battery.

 

Domestic Violence Defense Lawyers

BAY AREA DOMESTIC VIOLENCE ATTORNEYS

  • Multilingual staff – Spanish, Hebrew, Farsi, Hindi
  • Aggressive Domestic Violence Defense
  • Immigration Safe Plea Negotiations
  • Six Bay Area offices to serve you
  • OUR GOAL IS THE DISMISSAL OF THE CASE

A Domestic Violence conviction can have very serious consequences – including jail time, the imposition of restraining orders, and a permanent criminal record. And in the case of non-citizens, immigration issues present even further difficulties. The Bay Area is a melting pot, and we regularly represent immigrants from all over the world. In those cases, our Domestic Violence attorneys will work with the specialist immigration attorney on our team to prioritize the protection of our client’s immigration status.

Whether a felony or a misdemeanor, any domestic violence charge must be taken seriously. Technically, even a first misdemeanor offense exposes a defendant to a potential one-year jail sentence, but in reality, that is almost never the result. The real battle, though, is in protecting the clean record and reputation of the defendant. An experienced Summit Defense Attorney may be able to settle your case out of court.  We know that even a first-time conviction can lead to serious consequences and affect your employment prospects, your good name, burden you with a permanent criminal record, impose a restraining order and compromise your immigration status. This is why out objective is the full dismissal of all charges. Where that is not possible, we are skilled as minimizing consequences to protect your reputation.

While the most common type of domestic violence case involves violence towards a spouse or significant other (spousal battery in violation of penal codes 273.5 or 243e), there are many types of domestic violence cases including child endangerment, criminal threats, stalking as well as elder abuse.  That is, so long as a crime is committed against a person that is “closely related” there is the potential that the District Attorney will charge the matter as a domestic violence case.  Once charged, these cases are prosecuted aggressively even if the complaining party is uncooperative or recants his or her statement.

MORE ON VICTIM’S RIGHTS

In this section of our site, we will explain domestic violence laws in California – the criminal offenses, the laws related to restraining orders, as well as the police and prosecution policies that impact these cases. We understand how the local police departments and courts treat these matters, and are experts in directing our clients to resources that are available to help deal with family conflict. Families are under a lot of stress – many of our clients are hard-working professionals who are concerned about money, or their kids, and sometimes that stress boils over into an argument. We recognize that these people aren’t criminals, and our aim is always to protect our clients’ rights and reputation, and to keep families together wherever possible.

COMMON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES:

The following are the most common domestic violence offenses:

In the California Penal Code, there are two main offenses that relate specifically to incidents of domestic violence. They are:

Other offenses that can be charged in domestic violence cases include:

 

The California Penal Code makes it a crime to use physical violence against your domestic partner, or to threaten them with physical violence. Of course it is illegal to assault anyone, but when the defendant and the alleged victim are in a special kind of relationship, the law treats that as a more serious kind of offense. Domestic violence offenses under Penal Code 243(e)(1) and 273.5 cover a very broad spectrum of relationships – the laws apply to spouses, people who are engaged, people who are living together in an intimate relationship, and in some cases even people who are dating. They also apply to couples who have separated and parents who have children together, whether they are still together or not. The law applies to both heterosexual couples and same-sex couples.

There are also laws that create a scheme for the imposition of restraining orders under both the Penal Code and the Family Code. These are orders that can be made against people who are accused or suspected of being violent or threatening violence against their current or former domestic partner. The orders are not, by themselves, a criminal charge – rather, they seek to restrain the behavior of the person who is seen as the aggressor in the relationship, in an effort to protect the other person.

The final aspect that is important to consider are the policies of the police and the prosecutors. Since specific domestic violence laws were passed in California in the 1980’s, police departments are required to enact special policies and protocols that, amongst other things, seek to prioritize the arrest of offenders. District Attorneys are also required to prioritize the prosecution of these matters.

The effect of these laws and policies, however, is that the pendulum has now swung too far – many people are arrested unfairly, when their partners do not want to take any action, or when families would be better served by sorting out their own problems. Another issue that arises in domestic violence responses today is that all incidents get ‘thrown in together’ in the system. This results in the courts being clogged by many cases that people could best deal with as a family, and not enough resources being directed to where they really should be, that is, focused on the most serious cases.

Finally, the legal system’s response to domestic violence means that it is not wise for a defendant to try to tackle accusations alone. The system is not set up to assist couples or families to help themselves through these cases – in fact, trying to do so can often make things worse. Every person accused of a domestic violence offense should obtain expert legal advice and representation to navigate the system effectively, and to protect their reputation.

 How does the law define domestic violence?

Under California Penal Code 13700(b), domestic violence means “abuse committed against 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.”

There are two important aspects to this definition:

  1. abuse; and
  2. the specific kind of domestic relationship between the parties.

The Penal Code goes on to define those terms.

Under Penal Code 13700(a), ‘abuse’ means “intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, or placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to himself or herself, or another.”[1] So, the laws that deal with domestic violence cover acts that cause injury, as well as acts that make someone afraid that they might be injured.

The kinds of domestic relationships that the laws apply to are quite broad. They are:

  • people who are married, or who used to be married;
  • people who have a child together;
  • people who are engaged or dating, or who used to be; and
  • people who live together – cohabitants – or who used to live together.

Penal Code 13700(b) says that cohabitants are “two unrelated adult persons living together for a substantial period of time, resulting in some permanency of relationship.” It is not always clear if two people who live together are in the kind of domestic relationship that would fit under these laws, so in judging whether the couple fit the term ‘cohabitants’, the factors that can be taken into account include, but are not limited to:

  • sexual relations between the parties while sharing the same living quarters,
  • sharing of income or expenses,
  • joint use or ownership of property,
  • whether the parties hold themselves out as husband and wife,
  • the continuity of the relationship, and
  • the length of the relationship.[2]

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN POLICE GET INVOLVED?

For the most part, arresting officers will make a felony arrest, which leads to felony bail, (usually $25,000 to $50,000).  It is the District Attorney’s discretion to charge the case as a misdemeanor or a felony.  It is highly likely that the District Attorney will charge the matter as a misdemeanor even if you were arrested for a felony.

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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PENALTIES

A domestic violence conviction can have very serious consequences – including jail time, the imposition of restraining orders, and a permanent criminal record, and in the case of non-citizens, immigration issues present even further difficulties. The Bay Area is a melting pot, and we regularly represent immigrants from all over the world. In those cases, our defense attorneys will work with the specialist immigration attorney on our team to prioritize the protection of our client’s immigration status.  If you have already been convicted of a domestic violence offense, please review local resources here.

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DEFENDING BAY AREA DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES

As the largest Criminal Defense firm in the Bay Area, our Domestic Violence lawyers specialize in defending domestic violence cases. We believe that families have a right to sort out their own problems, and we do not want our clients to bear the burden of an unfair criminal conviction. Our first and foremost goal is the complete dismissal of charges. This is why we do everything possible to have these matters dismissed by the DA before charges are filed, and when necessary, vigorously defend domestic violence accusations in court.  There are several recognized DEFENSES to domestic violence cases and our attorneys are versed in litigating these defenses.

 

For your convenience, we have 6 bay area offices located throughout the Bay Area:

San Jose Domestic Violence Lawyer – 2570 North 1st Street, 2nd Floor, San Jose, CA 95131  (408) 872-8427

San Francisco Domestic Violence Lawyer – 580 California Street, 12th floor, San Francisco, CA 94104  (415) 604-9170

Oakland Domestic Violence Lawyer –  1970 Broadway #1145, Oakland, CA 94612  (510) 491-0454

Pleasanton Domestic Violence Lawyer –  6200 Stoneridge Mall Rd #300, Pleasanton, CA 94588  (925) 218-4730

San Rafael Domestic Violence Lawyer – 4040 Civic Center Dr #200, San Rafael, CA 94903  (415) 496-0023

San Mateo Domestic Violence Lawyer – 533 Airport Blvd #400, Burlingame, CA 94010  (650) 651-4464

 

 

Domestic Violence – Settling Out of Court

SETTLING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASES OUT OF COURT

  • Victim’s Rights
  • Protective Orders and EPO’s
  • Immigration Safe Plea Negotiations
  • Former prosecutors and police officers now on YOUR side
  • Staff fluent in Spanish, Hindi, Farsi and Hebrew

Do not gamble with your future. Accusations related to domestic violence can be devastating to you, your family and your career. Once an accusation is made it is critical that you have a knowledgeable expert on your side.

 

CAN I SETTLE THIS OUT OF COURT?

Yes – it is often possible for us to settle your matter out of court. How we can assist you will depend on where your case is procedurally, and the exact nature of the accusations against you. Some of the things that Summit Defense Attorneys can do in your case include:

  • Contact complaining witness despite an Emergency Protective Order
  • Finding out who the DA is in your case;
  • Securing representation for the victim in some cases;  Victims have rights
  • Suggest resources like family counseling or anger management classes;
  • Present exculpatory and positive character evidence to the prosecution, before charges are filed;
  • Make the DA aware of problems with their case before charges are filed.

As we have discussed, the priority of law enforcement and the DA in these cases is very often an arrest, followed by the swift filing of charges, and obtaining a restraining order. So for our efforts to be most effective, it is essential to contact us as soon as possible.

 

WHAT IF I GO TO COURT WITHOUT A LAWYER?

Having legal representation is not only your right, but your best chance of fighting the case against you. Summit Defense Attorneys have handled many domestic violence matters where we have been able to influence the process by presenting mitigating evidence to the DA to have charges dismissed, and where we have also been able to assist our client, and their family, access services to help them deal with conflict in a more positive way in the future.

People accused of domestic violence cannot afford to ignore the allegations, or think that they are something minor that can be sorted out privately. The policies and the laws behind them make it very clear that the police will take action in almost all cases, and the prosecution will fight for a conviction. The operation of these policies make it vital that anyone who is accused of a domestic violence offense have a skilled and experienced legal representative – this is not something that anyone should try to deal with by themselves.

You should seek legal representation because these cases can have very serious repercussions. A domestic violence charge exposes you to the risks of a criminal record, large fines and jail time, as well as the humiliation and damage to your reputation, and the difficulties of living with a restraining order and being separated from your family. If you are not a US citizen, you face the additional risk to your immigration status – which is why we have an expert immigration attorney on our team.

In a recent case that we defended, our client was a prominent attorney who, in the course of a night out drinking, got into an argument with his wife. On the way home, the fight escalated and, by the time the police arrived at his home later that night, they found his wife with some injuries, the most serious being a bloody nose. The police arrested him for Penal Code 273.5 inflicting injury on his spouse – a felony – and took him to the police station. He secured bail, but because the police had applied for an emergency restraining order, he was unable to return home and prohibited from contacting his wife.

Our client told us that he had been arrested despite his wife’s insistence that they were both responsible for the argument. She had tried to explain the situation to police, and that they both had suggested that he spend a night at a friend’s house to let things cool down instead of the police arresting anyone. The police had ignored them both, however, and arrested our client.

We immediately went to work on our client’s case. Our attorney:

  • spoke to our client’s wife, who assured us that she was also responsible for the fight, and that she wanted her husband to be able to come back home;
  • made contact with the DA who was handling the matter;
  • at the first court appearance, persuaded the judge to change the restraining order to a peaceful contact order, so as our client could return home and communicate with his wife;
  • presented mitigating and character evidence to the DA;
  • told the DA about the problems they would have in their case – primarily, that our client’s wife would not be co-operative, would not speak to the DA, and would not testify against her husband; and
  • referred the couple to counseling.

 

Due to our attorney’s work in presenting this case in the most positive light, and bringing the serious difficulties with the case to the attention of the DA, we were able to persuade the DA to drop the case. This case demonstrates how much a skilled attorney can influence the process in your case, especially when involved at the pre-file stage.

 

Sexual Assault

Accused of Sexual Assault in northern California?

 

EXPERT HELP IS AVAILABLE

  • Staff Includes Former Sex Crime Unit Lead DA
  • False allegations are very common, we fight them
  • Respected Psychological and Medical Experts
  • Early and Aggressive Intervention
  • Challenge of alleged victim’s credibility
  • Multilingual Staff – Spanish, Hindi, Hebrew, Farsi

 

Domestic Violence – False Imprisonment

BAY AREA FALSE IMPRISONMENT DEFENSE ATTORNEYS

  • Our goal is the dismissal of the charges against you
  • Arrest Records Sealed
  • First Offender Strategies to Keep your Record Clean
  • Immigration Safe Plea Negotiations
  • Helpful Investigators and other experts

 

What evidence will the Prosecutor use to try to prove a charge of false imprisonment against me?

There are two kinds of false imprisonment offenses – one that is a felony and one that is a misdemeanor, both under Penal Code 237(a). Either of these offenses may be charged in a domestic violence case, depending on the circumstances.

If you are charged with misdemeanor false imprisonment, under Penal Code 237(a), the Prosecutor must prove:

  • that you intentionally restrained, confined, or detained someone; and
  • that your act made that person stay or go somewhere against that person’s will.

 

If you are charged with felony false imprisonment the Prosecutor must prove a more serious first element – that is:

  • that you intentionally restrained, confined, or detained someone by violence or menace.
  • Intentionally restrained, confined, or detained

 

To prove this element of the offense, the Prosecutor must prove that the defendant acted on purpose in keeping the alleged victim restrained, confined, or detained. The offense of false imprisonment is not about someone being confined to a jail or a prison, it can take place anywhere. So, for example, it can be false imprisonment to tie someone up, or to lock them in a room with no means of escape, or even to force them to stay in a house with no way of leaving. The size of the area does not matter, nor does the time period during which they are imprisoned, as long as the person is not free to leave for some period of time – even a minute or two.

 

I – Intentionally restrained, confined, or detained by violence or menace

Keep in mind that, if some kind of violence or menace is used to imprison the person, then this offense can be elevated to a felony. Menace means some kind of verbal or physical threat, or a threat made with a weapon, either made explicitly or implied.[18] The kind of violence used must be more than the force that is necessary to restrain someone.

For example, imagine a couple that are fighting in a bedroom. They both try to leave the room, but one jostles the other out of the way and forces the door closed behind them, locking the other person in the room. That could be an act of false imprisonment, however no more physical force than was necessary to keep the person in the bedroom was used. However, if the person doesn’t just jostle the other person out of the way, but shoves them across the room and pushes them into a wall before leaving and locking the door, then that might be considered additional violence – and that person may then be charged with felony false imprisonment.

 

II – Act made the person stay or go somewhere against that person’s will

The Prosecutor must show that the alleged victim was forced to stay somewhere, or go somewhere, without their consent. In a case where the use of violence or menace is alleged, it could be that the person agreed to stay or go somewhere – but only because of the threat made or the violence used against them.

 

 

Domestic Violence – Child Endangerment

BAY AREA CHILD ENDANGERMENT LAWYERS

 

  • Experienced Child Endangerment defense lawyers
  • Our goal is the dismissal of all charges against you
  • Six Bay area offices to serve you
  • Immigration Safe Plea Negotiations
  • Staff fluent in Spanish, Hindi, Farsi and Hebrew

What are the penalties for Penal Code 273a(b) child endangerment?

The child endangerment offense that is most often charged in domestic violence cases is a misdemeanor. The maximum penalties for this misdemeanor include:

  • up to one year in jail;
  • a $1,000 fine;
  • both a fine and imprisonment.

As in other domestic violence offenses, if the court chooses to impose a period of probation, then certain conditions will apply. Under Penal Code 273a(c), the period of probation must be for a minimum of 4 years, and the court must impose some kind of protective order. The court will also specify that the defendant complete at least one year of an approved child abuser’s treatment counseling program.[22]

What evidence will the Prosecutor use to try to prove a charge of child endangerment against me?

Even though domestic violence offenses almost always involve two adults, there are situations where children are present when adults are arguing or fighting. In those cases, the police will sometimes charge one (or both) of the adults with child endangerment. If you are charged with child endangerment under Penal Code 273a(b), the prosecution must prove the following elements of the offense beyond reasonable doubt:

  • that you had care or custody of a child;
  • that you caused or permitted the child to be placed in a situation where the child’s person or health was endangered;
  • that you were criminally negligent when you caused or permitted the child to be endangered.
  • Had care or custody of a child

I – CARE OF CUSTODY OF CHILD

This charge can only be filed against someone who is responsible for the child in question. The prosecution must show that, at the time when the child was endangered, the defendant was either caring for the child, or had custody of the child. This obviously allows for broader scope than just a parental relationship – for example anyone that cares for a child, such as another relative or a baby sitter, could be subject to this charge.

II – DEFENDANT CAUSED OR PERMITTED THE CHILD TO BE PLACED IN A SITUATION WHERE PERSON OR HEALTH ENDANGERED

This element requires the Prosecutor to prove not only that the child was endangered, but that the defendant was responsible for that, or allowed it to occur. A wide variety of situations are covered, but one that is commonly seen is where a child is present when there is a violent incident between two adults, and the child was in danger of being hurt during the incident. For example, consider a scenario where a mother is nursing her child, and the father of the child attacks her while she is doing so – such an act could see the father charged not only with the attack on the mother, but also with endangering the child.

III CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE

This element describes the state of mind that the prosecution must prove on the part of the defendant. To prove that the defendant was criminally negligent in endangering the child, they must show that the defendant acted with “more than ordinary carelessness, inattention, or mistake in judgment.”[15] So, this element requires the DA to prove a serious level of negligence. As set out in the Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions, the law states a person acts with criminal negligence when:

  • He or she acts in a reckless way that is a gross departure from the way an ordinarily careful person would act in the same situation;
  • The person’s acts amount to disregard for human life or indifference to the consequences of his or her acts; and
  • A reasonable person would have known that acting in that way would naturally and probably result in harm to others.[16]

 

Again, consider the example of the father who attacks the mother nursing their child. If he knows the mother is nursing the child, and completely disregards the child’s safety when he attacks the mother, then it might be easy to suggest that he acted in a criminally negligent way. However, what if the father had come up behind the mother, did not know that she was nursing the child, and stopped when he saw the child? In that case, while the father might be guilty in relation to his attack on the mother, the prosecution would probably not be able to prove that he was criminally negligent in relation to the safety of the child – so he could not be found guilty of this offense.

Domestic Violence – Penalties

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PENALTIES

 

  • We can help you avoid Charges
  • If charged, our goal is the dismissal of charges against you
  • First Offender Strategies to Keep your Record Clean
  • Immigration Safe Plea Negotiations
  • Staff fluent in Spanish, Farsi, Hindi and Hebrew

Do not gamble with your future. Accusations related to domestic violence can be devastating to you, your family and your career. Once an accusation is made it is critical that you have a knowledgeable expert on your side.

 

The penalties in domestic violence cases can vary widely, and will always depend on the kind of offense charged and the exact circumstances of the offense. Whether or not the defendant has a criminal history, or a history of previous domestic violence offenses, will also affect the severity of the penalty imposed.

Of course, penalties are only of concern if a defendant is actually convicted of an offense. At Summit Defense, our aim in every case is always the complete dismissal of all charges and we will do everything possible to avoid a conviction in your case. However, in cases where a conviction cannot be avoided, Summit Defense Attorneys will fight to minimize consequences. In many cases we can:

  • Get charges reduced to lesser offense/s;
  • Achieve a sentence of only a fine or short probation period;
  • Seek counseling and jail alternatives; and
  • Enroll our clients in diversion programs.

 

What factors will the judge take into account when sentencing me?

Apart from the nature of the offense itself and any criminal history, the judge will consider the specific circumstances of each case before passing sentence. Some of the things that the judge will consider are known as aggravating and mitigating circumstances  – these are factors that might either increase (aggravate) or decrease (mitigate) the eventual sentence.

There are some common factors that can occur in domestic violence cases – for example, if alcohol or drug use was associated with the offense, and you voluntarily enter into a treatment program, then your attorney may persuade the judge to take that into account as a mitigating circumstance. On the other hand, if the offense was part of a pattern of violent and abusive behavior over some time, that might be considered an aggravating circumstance. However, every case is different and every defendant is unique – an experienced Summit Defense attorney will best know how to put together a positive case on sentencing that brings together as many mitigating circumstances as possible, and reduces the negative effect of any aggravating circumstances.

 

What other consequences can occur as a result of being convicted of a domestic violence offense?

Being convicted of a domestic violence offense exposes a defendant to several other consequences besides possible imprisonment or fines. This is, in part, due to the policies surrounding domestic violence and the fact that the law and the courts try to address some of the underlying causes of violence, as well as aiming to protect victims. This means that the law gives judges significant power to restrict a defendant’s liberties beyond the standard sentences available. We outline the most significant additional consequences that a defendant may face in a domestic violence matter, below.

 

Immigration status jeopardized

A conviction for a domestic violence offense can have particularly serious consequences for non-citizens. A conviction can jeopardize your immigration status, such as by making it difficult to renew your visa in the future – which may affect your job, and your opportunity to remain in the US.

If you are not a US citizen, and on a visa, or hoping to apply for a Green Card, then you need Summit Defense – we are the only criminal defense firm in the Bay Area with a specialized immigration attorney on our team. This means we are able to provide the best representation to our clients who are immigrants by taking into account all of their legal needs.

 

GIVE UP OR SELL YOUR GUNS

If there is a restraining order made against you, you will be required to sell your guns and provide proof of that sale to the police, or hand your guns over to the police to keep until the order ends. If you are convicted of certain domestic violence offenses, you will be forced to give up any guns that you own – and in many cases, you will not be allowed to own a gun ever again. This is fairly complex area of law, because both Federal and state laws apply here – and, where Federal and California laws conflict, the Federal law must be followed. Further, the courts have held that these bans do not violate the Second Amendment right to bear arms.

The way in which domestic violence offenses trigger these bans on gun ownership are as follows:

  1. California ban on gun ownership if convicted of a felony: Under Penal Code 29800, anyone convicted of a felony anywhere in the world is prohibited from having a gun. This includes felony domestic violence convictions. If you breach this law, there are serious penalties, including jail time and large fines.
  2. California ban on gun ownership if convicted of certain misdemeanors: Under Penal Code 29805, there is a ten-year ban on gun ownership for people convicted of certain misdemeanors. Those include domestic violence related offenses of battery, making criminal threats, and stalking. It is only after the ten-year period expires that you are allowed to own a gun again.
  3. Federal lifetime ban on gun ownership for domestic violence offenses: Under 18 United States Code 922(g), there is a Federal ban on owning firearms for life that is imposed on anyone who is convicted of most domestic violence offenses. So, regardless of the California ten-year ban, the Federal law would actually ban most people convicted of domestic violence offenses from owning a gun ever again, anywhere in the United States.

 

Compulsory restraining or protective orders

In most cases where a domestic violence conviction is recorded, the judge will impose a criminal protective order. And, in the case of some offenses, the law requires the judge to do so. These orders can – and are – imposed whether the victim requests the order or not.

These orders can be very restrictive – they can prevent a defendant from living in their home, from spending time with their family, from seeing or talking to their partner, or from communicating with their children. Considering that orders can be imposed for up to five years in some cases, these orders can have a significant and ongoing impact on your life. A Summit Defense attorney will always try to avoid a conviction so these kinds of consequences aren’t imposed on our clients. And even in cases where a conviction cannot be avoided, we will present compelling evidence to the court to have orders made that are reasonable and take into account our client’s and their family’s circumstances.