North Bay Domestic Violence Law

When the police merely think that some domestic violence has occurred in a relationship, they are now mandated to take the person into custody.
If you or a loved on has been arrested or charged with a domestic violence crime pursuant to Penal Code Section 273.5 PC, then please contact Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC today.
The laws concerning domestic violence have changed significantly, and you must be able to protect your rights through the use of an attorney. Domestic situations are never simple, and often times there are real questions of fact. The police do not have the resources at the time of the incident to figure out who is right or wrong, and almost always someone is going to be hauled off to jail.
Minor arguments and a slight physical touching are enough for the police and the prosecutor to charge you with a crime. Politicians have been pressured into believing that all incidents of domestic violence are brutal beatings and will result in a murder. That is not the truth. In most cases, tempers flair or alcohol is involved, and even without police intervention things would have worked themselves out. Sometimes, people lie to the police to get a significant other in trouble. And sometimes the police over exaggerate in their reports what was said or happened.
In our over 40 years of combined criminal law experience, many of the cases we see involve mutual combat.
When the police arrive on the scene, someone is going to jail. There are valid justifications or excuses for many of the actions that occur in a domestic situation.
Our attorneys will be able to listen to the facts that you present and will be able to assist you in making sure that your rights and interests are protected. Often, things happen in the heat of passion that at the time, look to be dangerous. But, upon closer evaluation, the two people truly love each other and wish to put this event behind them. The problem is that once the charges are filed, the victim may not dismiss the charges, and the case will often times proceed even if the victim does not want to prosecute.
In California, the prosecutor may file domestic violence as either a felony or as a misdemeanor. This is called a “wobbler,” since the prosecutor may elect which one to file. The prosecutor has the obligation to review the evidence and decide, based upon the severity of the injuries, if any, what to file. If the injuries are slight or almost non-existent, then usually a misdemeanor charge will be filed. However, if the injuries include broken bones, cuts or more severe injuries, then a felony charge will almost always be filed.
If the victim sustains great bodily injury, then this crime is a “strike” under California’s “Three Strikes” Law. A conviction then will be used to enhance future penalties in the future.
The past history of the participants will significantly impact the prosecutor’s decision on whether to file a felony or a misdemeanor. If you are convicted of a felony domestic violence charge, the court may impose significant jail time. In addition, restitution, fines and a counseling class will be ordered. In some cases, the court may issue a restraining order, which prohibits you from having any contact with the victim. Contact also includes indirect contact by friends or others who call the victim on your behalf.
An experienced criminal defense attorney, that has significant prior experience handling these types of cases, can significantly increase the odds of a favorable resolution in these types of charges.
In a more serious incident, an attorney may be able to provide facts to the police and prosecutor that may result in the charges being lowered from a felony to a misdemeanor. For less serious incidents that are charged as misdemeanors, our law firm can work at keeping you out of jail or having the charges reduced to a simple misdemeanor, an infraction of disturbing the peace, or having the charges dismissed altogether.
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Below are listed some of the charges that you may face in a domestic violence case and their definitions:

  1. Penal Code Section 273.5(a) PC – Corporal Injury to Spouse (Domestic Violence). As a felony the punishment is 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to 1 year in county jail. The prosecutor must prove that you willfully inflicted a traumatic injury on another person who is either the spouse, living in partner, parent of your child, or a former partner that in which you once lived. The injury need only be slight.
  2. Penal Code Section 273.6(a) PC- Disobeying a Domestic Relations Court Order . In order to be punishable as a felony, there must be a prior conviction of this same section. The punishment is 16 months, 2, or 3 years in prison. If there has not been a previous conviction then the case is a misdemeanor, and the sentence is up to 1 year in custody with a minimum amount that is required to be served if there was some physical injury to the victim. The prosecutor must prove that you knowingly and intentionally violated a valid court order issues by a court in California and that you were served with the order. This crime often occurs in custody disputes when one person goes over to pick up the children and the other person calls the police, or when there is a protective order by the court but the person restrained comes into contact with the other person.
  3. Penal Code Section 242-243(e)(1) PC – Battery. As a misdemeanor, this crime is punishable by up to 1 year in jail. The prosecutor must prove that you used force or violence upon a person with whom you had a relationship. This is often times known as a fist flight or bar flight. Merely pushing another person away from you can result in this charge being filed against you.
  4. Penal Code Section 240-241(a) PC – Simple assault. As a misdemeanor, this crime is punishable by up to 1 year in jail. The prosecutor must prove that when you had the present ability to harm someone, you made an attempt to commit a violent injury on another person. There does not need to be any injury to the victim. This crime often occurs in a heated argument when one person “takes a swing” toward another person but misses. Even though you did not hit the other person, you may be charged with this crime.
  5. Penal Code Section 422 PC – Criminal Threats. This crime can be filed as a felony or a misdemeanor. As a felony, the punishment is 16 months, 2, or 3 years in state prison. The prosecutor must prove that you willfully and unlawfully threatened to commit a crime, which would result in death or great bodily injury, and made the statement with the specific intent that the crime be taken as a threat. This crime is most often committed when someone yells that they are going to “kill” someone when they are angry.
  6. Penal Code Section 653m(a) PC – Making an annoying phone call. This crime is a misdemeanor and is punishable by 6 months in jail. The prosecutor must prove that you made a phone call, or used other electronic means, and used threats to inflict injury to another person or their property. In domestic situations this often happens in the heat of the moment–two people are talking over the phone and one gets angry.
  7. Penal Code Section 136.1(b)(1) PC – Dissuading a witness from reporting a crime. This crime can be either filed as a misdemeanor or felony. If it is charged as a misdemeanor, the punishment is up to 1 year in jail. As a felony, the penalty can be 16 months, 2, or 3 years in prison. The prosecutor must prove that you attempted to prevent either a witness or a victim of a crime from making a report to police or any other law enforcement agency. This often happens when you ask a person not to report a crime or after the heated argument is over but the prosecutor has filed a case, you ask the witness not to come to court.
  8. Penal Code Section 591 PC – Damage to a telephone or cable line. If it is charged as a misdemeanor, then the punishment is up to 1 year in jail. As a felony, the penalty can be 16 months, 2, or 3 years in prison. The prosecutor must prove that you maliciously damaged or removed a telephone or the line attached to it. This crime usually occurs when the two people are in an argument and one person says they are going to call for help and you either rip the phone line from the wall or damage the line in some other way.

If you have been accused of a domestic violence crime anywhere in the North Bay including Sonoma County or Marin County, it is important that you contact Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC right away.
Mr. Fiumara and his team understand the serious nature of this offense, how best to defend you, and how to resolve your case without you going to jail.
Contact us today at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 for your free case evaluation and let us FIGHT FOR YOU!

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