Prosecutors in the Coachella Valley aggressively pursue and prosecute all reported incidents of domestic violence, regardless of whether the alleged victim presses charges or denies their initial accusations. Prosecutors will not dismiss or reduce domestic violence charges when an alleged victim requests dismissal, leniency, or refuses to testify in court.
As a rule, police arrest an individual accused of felony domestic assault and prohibit his or her release on their own recognizance, regardless of whether the prosecutor ultimately files the charges as a felony or misdemeanor.
If you or someone you love has been served with a restraining order or arrested for assault and battery, accused by a spouse or cohabitant, and thus, you are facing a “domestic violence” charge, you have options.
A skilled criminal defense attorney may evaluate whether any of the following potential circumstances or defenses are applicable to the given fact situation. There are several legal defenses to a charge of domestic violence. The most common defenses are
- the act was in self-defense;
- the act was in defense of another person;
- the injury or contact was unintentional or accidental; and/or
- the defendant was falsely accused of the offending act.
There is often minimal physical evidence of a crime of domestic violence in any set of circumstances. For example, under California Penal Code § 273.5, an injury may be a criminal offense even if of a minor nature, caused by a physical force. Thus, the alleged victim may often not have any visible injuries.
In these cases, proof of guilt may often depend upon the credibility of witness testimony. The alleged victim in a domestic violence case may have a significant impact on dismissal or leniency if he or she truthfully recants the accusation that the defendant committed an act of domestic violence. The victim’s refusal to testify may cause the prosecutor to have insufficient evidence to move forward.
An alleged victim who is unwilling to testify in court is not guilty of contempt under California law, specifically the California Code of Civil Procedure § 1219. Thus, an alleged victim may not be compelled by threat of incarceration to take the stand and testify against another individual against his or her wishes. In this event, the prosecutor may offer a reduction to a lesser charge or may dismiss the case entirely.
As the criminal domestic violence matter progresses through the California court system, these realities may arise and pressure the prosecution to reduce charges as part of a plea negotiation. Pleading to a reduced charge may help a defendant avoid the stigma of a domestic violence conviction, as well as certain collateral consequences that may otherwise result from a conviction.
Criminal law specialist John Patrick Dolan protects the rights of those charged with assault, domestic violence or spousal abuse. Mr. Dolan has over forty years of experience working to help his clients obtain the best resolution possible when freedom and reputation are at stake. Call us today at (760) 775-3739 or find out more online here.