Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys

Are you or a loved one being accused of or arrested for domestic violence? The first thing to understand is that you have rights. At the Abrate & Olsen Law Group, we are here to guide you through the legal process and protect your rights. Our domestic violence attorneys, Michael Abrate and Daniel Olsen, want to meet with you to understand your situation and answer the questions and concerns that you have.

We understand that arguments or disputes with family members or loved ones is a common situation within a family. Occasionally, what may have initially started as a simple misunderstanding can quickly escalate and become out of control. Tempers flare, inappropriate words can be said and in some cases, violence can result. Our goal is to understand all the details of the situation including, leading up to, during, and after. In many domestic violence situations, the case is based on he said / she said accounts of the incident and it is up to law enforcement to decipher the truth.

Proven Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Strategy

As former Deputy District Attorneys for the Sacramento District Attorney’s Office, Mike and Dan have firsthand experience on how criminal charges involving domestic violence are handled by the court, prosecution, law enforcement, and other associated parties. They use their knowledge and experience to create a criminal defense strategy to protect your rights and freedom.

We understand that there are many unfortunate situations that can result in you being charged with a domestic violence crime. In our experiences, we have witnessed clients be falsely accused of these crimes for many reasons including:

  • A desire to gain a favorable outcome in divorce or child custody proceedings
  • Anger or jealousy that results in a desire to “get even”
  • Situations where the accused was acting in self-defense in an altercation started by the accuser
  • An accident that was taken out of context

From the moment that you first hire the Abrate & Olsen Law Group, our lawyers immediately go to work to protect your rights. We first meet with you to hear your side of the story. We take the time to listen to your concerns, answer your questions, and accurately document your accounts of the situation. We then review the accounts of the case as outlined by law enforcement, including statements made by the alleged victim of domestic violence. After our initial research and review, we create an initial defense strategy for your case.

Your lawyer will meet with the District Attorney’s Office to review the police reports and potential charges you are facing. We present the DA with your accounts of the situation, additional evidence and work to convince the prosecution not to continue with a criminal case and have the charges dropped.

Should your case continue to a jury trial, you can rest assured that you will be represented by our criminal defense attorneys who have a high success rate in cases tried in front of a jury. You will also have the peace of mind that your legal team has been selected as a member on the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers Directory.

The best way to protect your rights and freedom when facing California domestic violence charges, is to schedule a free consultation with our experienced criminal defense lawyers in our Sacramento law office today.

Legal Defense Options

Being charged with domestic violence in California does not mean you are guilty. Our first goal is to get your charges dropped before the case goes to trial. As former Sacramento Deputy District Attorneys, Mike and Dan are intimately familiar with how the prosecution and law enforcement investigate and develop the case against you. You can rest assured that we will use our knowledge and experience to uncover any errors or holes in their case. Should your case head to trial, there are many potential defense strategies and options that we will explore based on your unique situation. Some of the most common domestic violence defenses are:

  • You have been falsely accused (retaliation, jealousy, legal positioning)
  • The alleged victim’s injuries were not caused by you
  • You were acting in self-defense or in the defense of another
  • The alleged victim’s injury was the result of an accident

Plea Bargains for Lesser Charges

Depending on the facts of your case, the best legal strategy may be to have an experienced domestic violence attorney negotiate a favorable plea bargain. A well negotiated plea bargain can have your charges reduced. This may allow you to minimize the sentencing and personal and professional consequences that are associated with a domestic violence conviction.

Pre-trial Diversion Programs

In some cases, a skilled criminal domestic violence lawyer can negotiate with the DA to secure you a pre-trial diversion program or deferred entry of judgement (DEJ) for accused batterers. With the successful completion of the batterers’ program, many charges can be dismissed and the case dropped. If we believe this is the best option for your case, we will present all the requirements and benefits to you.

Domestic Violence Charges Can Not Be Dropped by the Victim

Domestic arguments are part of all relationships. Unfortunately, some arguments can escalate, become highly emotional and in some cases physical. Things can be said and done in the heat of the moment when emotions are running high and law enforcement can become involved. No matter how they enter the situation, once the authorities have deemed the situation to be a case of domestic violence, the assumed victim cannot simply drop the charges when cooler heads have prevailed.

In California, the District Attorney’s office will make the final decision on if to file charges in a case involving domestic violence. This means that if, during an argument, one person called the police to report the situation and law enforcement got involved, the victim cannot make the decision not to proceed with the case. Rather, the District Attorney assigned to the case will base their decision on evidence such as what was said on the 911 call, what was written in the police report, if there were any injuries, witnesses, and prior acts of domestic violence involving the accused.

The prosecution’s primary objective is to secure some type of conviction. In many cases, the individual that made the initial 911 call will be viewed as the victim. This means that if you are in a situation where someone else calls the police, you will likely be the one to be arrested. We have seen many cases where the criminal justice system does not take into consideration what happened in the relationship leading up to the incident, what the fight was really about, or that the alleged victim was actually the instigator. Unfortunately, there are instances where the victim was the aggressor and you were simply trying to defend yourself.

Knowing this, if you are in a situation where you are accused of domestic violence, it is important to remain calm and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney that can guide you through the legal process. Our lawyers at the Abrate & Olsen Law Group will meet with you to establish a solid defense that factually represents your story. We will give your case the personal attention needed and fight for your rights and freedom.

California Domestic Violence Defense Resources

If you are facing criminal charges involving domestic violence in California, we understand that you have questions and we are here to guide you through the legal process. Our Sacramento criminal defense attorneys have gathered the following information to help answer your legal questions about specific domestic violence laws and charges.

What is the Legal Definition of Domestic Violence in California?

The State of California defines domestic violence in both the California Penal Code and the California Family Code.

Domestic violence, under California Penal Code 13700(b), is defined as:

Abuse* committed against an adult or minor who is:

  • Current or former spouse
  • Current or former cohabitant**
  • Mother or Father of the offender’s child
  • Current or former partner in a dating or engagement relationship

* Abuse is defined under California Penal Code Section 13700(a) as, “… 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.”

** Cohabitant is further defined to include, “two unrelated adult persons living together for a substantial period of time, resulting in some permanency of relationship.” The factors that may be used to establish if persons are cohabitation may include, but are not limited to:

  1. Sexual relations between the parties while sharing the same living quarters
  2. Sharing of income or expenses
  3. Joint use or ownership of property
  4. Whether the parties hold themselves out as spouses
  5. The continuity of the relationship
  6. The length of the relationship

Domestic violence, is further defined under the California Family Code 6211 to include two additional categories of victims, including:

  1. California Family Code 6211(e): “A child of a party or a child who is the subject of an action under the Uniform Parentage Act, where the presumption applies that the male parent is the father of the child to be protected.”
  2. California Family Code 6211(f): “Any other person related by consanguinity or affinity within the second degree.” Where consanguinity refers to related by blood and affinity refers to related through marriage.

Under the California Family Code, the following people are considered to be within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity:

  1. Brother and sisters
  2. Half-brothers and half-sisters
  3. Step-brothers and step-sisters
  4. Grandparents
  5. Grandchildren
  6. Aunts and Uncles
  7. Nephews and nieces

What Crimes Are Commonly Associated with Domestic Violence in California?

CA Penal Code 236: False Imprisonment and Human Trafficking
CA Penal Code 236 False imprisonment is defined in California Penal Code 236 as, “… the unlawful violation of the personal liberty of another.” The primary difference between false imprisonment and kidnapping is, kidnapping requires the victim to be moved while false imprisonment on requires that the victim be held against their will. A finding of guilt relating to false imprisonment under PEN 236 can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction, dependent on the severity of the crime. Possible penalties can include:

  • Up to one year in a county jail for misdemeanor convictions
  • And/or a fine up to $1,000
  • 16 months, two, three, or four years in a California State Prison for felony convictions
CA Penal Code 273.5: Inflicting corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition.
CA Penal Code 273.5 As defined in section (d), a “traumatic condition” means a condition of the body, such as a wound, or external or internal injury, … whether of a minor or serious nature, caused by a physical force.” A finding of guilt relating to PEN 273.5 can result in a felony conviction. Possible penalties for a first-time offender can include:

  • Up to one year in a county jail
  • Two to Four years in a California state prison

And/or a fine of up to $6,000

CA Penal Code 243(e)(1): Domestic battery
CA Penal Code 243(e)(1) As defined in section (f)(5), an injury includes any physical injury that requires professional medical treatment. A finding of guilt relating to PEN 243(e)(1) can result in a misdemeanor conviction. Possible penalties for a first-time offender can include:

  • Up to one year in a county jail
  • And/or a fine of up to $2,000
CA Penal Code 270: Abandonment and neglect of children
CA Penal Code 270 This code makes it a misdemeanor for a parent of a minor child to provide adequate care to a child. “Care” is defined to include necessary:

  • Clothing
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Medical Assistance
  • Other remedial care for his/her child

A finding of guilt relating to PEN 270 can result in a misdemeanor conviction. Possible penalties can include:

  • Up to one year in a county jail
  • And/or a fine up to $2,000
CA Penal Code 273a: Child endangerment
CA Penal Code 273a California Penal Code 273a provides children protection from being in the care of a person who willfully allows said child to be subjected to circumstances or conditions likely to result in harm, including physical pain and/or mental suffering or to have their safety or health endangered. A finding of guilt relating to PEN 273a can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction. Possible penalties can include:

  • Up to one year in a county jail
  • Up to six years in a California state prison
CA Penal Code 273d: Child abuse
CA Penal Code 273d California Penal Code 273d provides special punishment for any person who inflicts “any act of cruel or inhuman corporal punishment” upon a child that results in a traumatic condition. The law does allow for reasonable “spanking” of a child for the purpose of discipline. However, if the act of discipline is found to be cruel and causes excessive injury, it will be considered child abuse under California law. A finding of guilt relating to PEN 273d can result in a felony conviction. Possible penalties can include:

  • Up to one year in a county jail
  • Up to six years in a California state prison
  • And/or a fine up to $6,000
CA Penal Code 368: Abuse of elders, dependent adults, and persons with disabilities
CA Penal Code 368 California provide special protections for the elderly and dependent adults due to special circumstances including, confusion, under the influence of medications, being mentally or physically impaired, or incompetent to protect themselves. Under PEN 368, it is a crime to perpetrate any of the following on an elder, dependent adult or person with disabilities:

  • Physical pain or abuse
  • Mental and/or emotional abuse
  • Neglect causing endangerment to the health or well being
  • Financial fraud or theft including embezzlement, identity theft, and/or forgery

A finding of guilt relating to PEN 368 can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction, dependent on the age of the victim and severity of the crime. Possible penalties can include:

  • Up to one year in a county jail
  • Up to seven years in a California state prison
  • In cases resulting in death, up to an additional seven years in California state prison may be added
  • And/or a fine up to $10,000
CA Penal Code 422: Criminal threats
CA Penal Code 422 As defined by PEN 422(a), threatening to commit a crime to any person (defined in PEN 13700), or their immediate family, that would result in serious injury or death, made either verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communications device is considered a threat. Even if the accused had no intention of carrying out the treat, but in the situation the victim feared for the safety of themselves or their immediate family, the accused can be found guilty. A finding of guilt relating to PEN 422 can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction, dependent on the severity of the crime. Possible penalties can include:

  • Up to one year in a county jail for misdemeanor convictions
  • Up to four years in a California state prison including a potential “strike” on the criminal record under California’s Three Strikes Law for felony convictions
CA Penal Code 601: Trespass
CA Penal Code 601 A criminal charge of aggravated trespass is defined in PEN 601 as the act of entering into the home or work of a person within thirty days of making a criminal threat, as defined in CA Penal Code 422, to execute said threat. A finding of guilt relating to PEN 601 can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction, dependent on the severity of the crime. Possible penalties can include:

  • Up to one year in a county jail for misdemeanor convictions
  • And/or a fine up to $2,000
  • Up to three years in a California state prison for felony convictions
CA Penal Code 646.9: Staking
CA Penal Code 646.9 PEN 646.9 defines the act of repeatedly following or harassing a person or their family that causes one to be seriously alarmed, annoyed, tormented, or terrorized as stalking. Stalking can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony dependent on the specific situation, the accused’s criminal history and other legal issues. A finding of guilt relating to PEN 646.9 can result in a range of possible penalties, including:

  • Up to one year in a county jail for misdemeanor convictions
  • And/or a fine up to $1,000
  • Up to five years in a California state prison for felony convictions
  • Additional penalties can be added dependent on other legal factors
CA Penal Code 647(j)(4): Revenge Porn
CA Penal Code 647(j)(4) The act of intentionally distributing images (including pictures and video) of an identifiable person that show intimate body parts or engaged in a sexual act with the intent to cause the victim emotional distress is illegal under California Penal Code 647(j)(4). A finding of guilt relating to PEN 647(j)(4) can result in a misdemeanor conviction. Possible penalties include:

  • Up to one year in a county jail
  • And/or a fine up to $1,000
CA Penal Code 653.2: Electronically posting or distributing information to cause harm
CA Penal Code 653.2 To combat cyber bullying, the State of California passed Penal Code 653.2 which makes it illegal to digitally distribute identifying information by means of an electronic communication device with the intent to cause harm or harassment by a third party to an individual. Information includes, but is not limited to, a digital image or electronic message of a harassing nature which could produce an unlawful action against said person. A finding of guilt relating to PEN 647(j)(4) can result in a misdemeanor conviction. Possible penalties include:

  • Up to one year in a county jail

And/or a fine up to $1,000

Additional California Domestic Violence Penalties

In addition to the potential county jail, California state prison sentencing and/or criminal fines issued with a conviction, the courts can/will impose further sentences and penalties that often include:

Criminal Record

When convicted of a California domestic violence charge, the conviction is placed on the defendant’s permanent criminal record. The conviction will then appear during a background check. This can impede the ability to secure employment, housing, some state licensing, and other benefits.

A domestic violence conviction that resulted in a state prison sentence or parole are not eligible for expungement in California.

Child custody disputes

Parents who are convicted domestic abusers are generally prohibited from being awarded sole or joint physical or legal custody of a minor child pursuant to California Family Code 3011  and California Family Code 3044. The courts deem that there is a rebuttable presumption that “… a person who has perpetrated domestic violence is detrimental to the best interest of the child …”. This presumption can only be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence in the case.

A domestic violence conviction can still afford the parent the ability to file for and obtain visitation rights in some instances.

Immigration status

Under US immigration law, many convictions for domestic violence in California count as an aggravated felony or a crime involving moral turpitude (CIMV). Title 8 of U.S. Code Section 1127 allows for the deportation of a non-U.S. citizen guilty of criminal offenses. Title 8 of the U.S. code Section 1182 can deny a non-U.S. citizen admission to the United States.

Loss of right to possess or own a firearm

Being convicted of a misdemeanor or felony charge associated with domestic violence can result in losing your Second Amendment right to own or possess a firearm for a set time or permanently.

There are various misdemeanors convictions that carry a ten-year firearm ban including:

  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Additional Domestic Violence related crimes
  • Making criminal threats

Felony convictions carry a lifetime ban of your Second Amendment rights including owning or possessing a firearm.

Treatment and counseling program

To further rehabilitate domestic abusers, judges routinely require enrolling and completing a year-long treatment and counselling program. The court will often require this program in connection with convictions resulting in incarceration, summary probation, or formal probation.

Victim restitution

As part of sentencing, a judge may order the convicted to pay financial restitutions to the victim. Restitution can include, but are not limited to lost wages and medical bills (including counseling for mental health).

Hire the Best Domestic Violence Defense Attorney to Protect Your Rights

If you or a loved one is being investigated for or being charged with a domestic violence crime, it is vital act quick to protect your rights and freedom. Hiring an experienced criminal defense lawyer who has a proven success record in defending domestic violence accusations is your best way to ensure the best outcome.

Our attorneys know the tactics that the DA and law enforcement will use to strengthen their case and improve the chance for a conviction. Before you talk to anyone, contact the Abrate & Olsen Law Group to schedule your free and confidential consultation to review your case.

Counties We Practice Domestic Violence Criminal Defense

From our law office in Sacramento, CA, we can aggressively defend you in criminal cases involving domestic violence charges in many Northern California Counties, including:

  • Contra Costa County
  • El Dorado County
  • Placer County
  • Sacramento County
  • Solano County
  • Sutter County
  • Yolo County
  • Yuba County

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