How a Domestic Violence Lawyer Can Help

Getting an experienced Berkeley, CA domestic violence attorney on your case is imperative if you hope to avoid the fallout of a conviction.

Here’s why you need a top criminal defense lawyer:

They Thoroughly Understand Your Rights

You have rights as the accused. Seth Morris has built his life’s work around protecting individuals’ rights to ensure fair treatment in court. He will help you better understand the extent of the charges you face and how to dismiss them.

They Minimize Criminal Penalties

Your lawyer will be responsible for analyzing your case to determine whether your domestic violence charges can be reduced. This can be done through a pre-trial diversion program or by filing motions to suppress evidence before trial.

They Collect Evidence to Support Your Defense

Your domestic violence attorney will need to gather time-sensitive evidence that can prove your version of events. This might include witness statements, communication exchanges, and even forensic evidence.

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Morris Law Defends Against All Domestic Violence Charges

Under California Law, you could face the following charges:

  • Neglect – Under California Penal Code § 270, you can face child neglect charges if you are accused of failing to provide your child with the necessities, such as food, shelter, water, or medical care.
  • Domestic Battery – Under California Penal Code § 243(e)(1), inflicting force or violence on someone who is considered an intimate partner is grounds for domestic battery charges.
  • Child Abuse – Under California Penal Code § 273d, it is a crime to use corporal punishment to injure a child. This does not include reasonable use of force to discipline your children.
  • Stalking – Under California Penal Code § 646.9, stalking includes threatening or harassing another person to the point that they fear for their safety or the safety of their family.
  • Spousal Abuse – Under California Penal Code § 273.5, inflicting “corporal injury“ to a spouse or cohabitant in a physical manner is illegal and can result in domestic violence charges.
  • Elder Abuse – Under California Penal Code § 368, you can face domestic violence charges for elder abuse in cases of neglect, financial fraud, endangerment, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse.
  • Child Endangerment – Under California Penal Code § 273a, willfully allowing a child to suffer harm or endanger their health or safety is grounds for criminal child endangerment charges.
  • Criminal Threats – Under California Penal Code § 422, threatening someone with serious harm is a criminal offense that could be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor.
  • Damaging a Telephone Line – Under California Penal Code § 591, you can face criminal charges for cutting or otherwise damaging a phone line or someone’s telephone equipment.
  • Aggravated Trespass – Under California Penal Code § 601, this involves making a criminal threat and entering a person’s work or home within the next thirty days to carry out that threat.
  • Posting Harmful Information Online – Under California Penal Code § 653.2, posting or otherwise communicating harmful information about another person with the intent of harassing them is grounds for criminal charges.
  • Revenge Porn – Under California Penal Code § 647(j)(4), revenge porn is a type of cyber harassment that occurs when someone intentionally distributes sexual photos of another person without their permission with the intent of causing that person significant emotional distress.

Domestic Violence Penalties in Berkeley, CA

Most domestic violence crimes are considered “wobbler offenses.” This means they can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the specific details of your case. Factors that may increase your penalties include showing no remorse, having a detailed criminal history, involving a child, and other factors.

Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Penalties

A misdemeanor domestic battery conviction could result in up to one year in county jail and fines up to $2,000.

Felony Domestic Violence Penalties

A felony domestic violence conviction could result in up to three years in prison and fines up to $10,000.

California’s “Three Strikes” Law & Penalties

You may also be facing additional sentence enhancements if you have previous felony convictions on your record. California’s “Three Strikes” law could impose extra prison time of as much as twenty-five years to life, depending on your prior criminal history.

You Might Be Able to Reduce Your Sentence to Probation

You might have your sentence reduced to probation to avoid prison or jail time. This may be more likely in cases where the victim was not significantly injured and you are a first-time offender. You would need to follow the various probation requirements, such as:

  • Random drug or alcohol testing
  • Obtain employment
  • Meet residency and housing requirements
  • Meet with your probation officer regularly
  • Submit to random searches of your home
  • Adhere to a curfew

In domestic violence cases, Alameda County judges reserve the right to impose a minimum thirty-day jail sentence whether the defendant is a first-time offender or is facing misdemeanor charges.

Additional Penalties for Domestic Violence

Other penalties you can expect to face if you are found guilty of domestic violence-related offenses include:

  • Participation in a “batterers’ intervention program”
  • Paying restitution to victims or a domestic violence fund
  • Registration as a sex offender
  • Completion of court-mandated anger management
  • Substance abuse rehabilitation
  • Loss of custody rights under California Family Code § 3044
  • Loss of firearm rights under California Penal Code § 29805
  • Having a restraining order taken out against you
  • Citizenship or immigration consequences

A Conviction Will Remain on Your Permanent Record

Under California law, domestic violence convictions will remain on your permanent criminal record for the rest of your life. This will impact obtaining gainful employment, affordable housing, or other benefits that require a criminal background check.

Local Police Departments & Courthouses

When you are accused of domestic violence or other-related crimes in Berkeley, CA, you could be taken to several police stations or courthouses, such as:

University of California Police Department, Berkeley
1 Sproul Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720

Berkeley Police Department
2100 Martin Luther King Jr Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

Alameda County Berkeley Courthouse
2120 Martin Luther King Jr Way
Berkeley, CA 94704

California Domestic Violence Laws

Under California Penal Code § 13700, domestic violence is abuse committed against someone who is considered an intimate partner. Abuse can occur intentionally or recklessly and threatens the use of physical force against their partner.

How Does the Law Define an Intimate Partner?

The statute defines an intimate partner as someone who has a close intimate relationship with the defendant. This might include:
  • Current or former fiancés
  • Current or former cohabitants
  • Current or former spouses
  • Current or former registered domestic partners
  • Anyone who the defendant has children with
  • Anyone the defendant was in a relationship with or dating

How Berkeley, CA Restraining Orders Work

Under California’s law, a restraining order is designed to prevent the defendant from stalking, abusing, threatening, or harassing an intimate partner. The intimate partner is considered the protected person in the case.

How Long Does a Restraining Order Last?

If a restraining order is issued against you, it has the potential to remain in effect for a maximum of five years. In many cases, restraining orders will only be in effect for days or months at a time.

What Happens if a Restraining Order is Violated?

Violating the terms of a restraining order is a criminal offense under California Penal Code § 273.6. This is a misdemeanor offense punishable by a maximum fine of $1,000 and imprisonment in county jail for up to one year.

Consequences of a Restraining Order

It should also be noted that if a restraining order has been taken out against you, you may be prohibited from owning, purchasing, or possessing a firearm. A violation of these gun laws is also a criminal offense under California Penal Code § 29825.

Common Domestic Violence Defenses in Berkeley, CA

To avoid the consequences of a domestic violence conviction, you will need to present a compelling legal defense strategy. Common defenses used to obtain acquittals for domestic violence allegations in Berkeley, CA include the following:

Acting in Self-Defense

You might be able to argue that you were acting in self-defense or defense of your children if you had reasonable belief that you or someone else was in imminent danger, and that the use of force was necessary to avoid that threat. However, for this defense to be successful, force must be appropriate to the threat question.

False Allegations of Domestic Violence

False allegations of domestic violence often occur when an intimate partner is angry or jealous, or the couple is going through a divorce, break up, or child custody battle.

Injuries Were Caused Accidentally

Arguing that the injuries were caused accidentally may be possible if the incident occurred unintentionally. Your domestic violence lawyer will need to thoroughly investigate the details of your case to obtain evidence that proves your story is consistent.