After you have been arrested for domestic violence, your first court appearance will be your arraignment. This step of the court process is one of the most important as it allows you to hear the charges that have been filed against you, deal with bail, schedule future court dates and re-addresses the protective order. One of the best things you can do to help yourself when you have been accused of a crime of domestic violence is to ensure you are represented by an experienced and knowledgeable criminal lawyer.
Hearing the Domestic Violence Charges Against You
When you’re arrested for domestic violence, you usually won’t know exactly what charges are going to be filed or whether they will be misdemeanor or felonies. One of the most common domestic violence charges, corporal injury to a spouse or inhabitant, can be filed as a felony or misdemeanor. The other most common domestic violence charge, domestic battery is always a misdemeanor, which is why it is considered less serious than the crime of corporal injury to a spouse.
Other common charges may also be filed as well, including child abuse, child endangerment, criminal threats, stalking, aggravated trespassing, restraining order violations and vandalism, all of which can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony.
Knowing what specific law (or laws) you have been accused of violating can help you and your attorney decide on the best course of action for the rest of your case. If you’re only facing a single charge of domestic battery, for example, you might want to start thinking about a defense strategy that can help your attorney fight the accusations in trial. If, on the other hand, you’re facing five felony charges, your best option might be to negotiate a plea bargain instead.
Of course, the prosecutor has already decided what charges, if any, to file well before the arraignment. This is why it is important to contact a lawyer right away after you learn you are being investigated or arrested for domestic violence. There may be information not contained in the police report or evidence of your injuries which your lawyer can use to persuade the prosecutor not to file or to lower the criminal charges.
Dealing With Bail
If you already posted bail according to the San Diego County bail schedule, then you don’t need to address this issue in the arraignment. On the other hand, if you’re still in custody, then your lawyer can argue for you to be released on your own recognizance or to have the bail reduced. This is the only way many people can afford to be released from jail after their arrest.
Future Court Dates
As an administrative matter, the court will take some time to schedule other court dates, which could include your readiness conference, preliminary hearing or trial date. These dates are subject to change.
One of the most important matters addressed in domestic violence arraignments is the stay away order, also known as a restraining order, no contact order or protective order. When police make an arrest after making a domestic violence well check, they will provide the victim with a temporary stay away order that will last for seven days. The victim may then schedule a hearing to be granted a permanent restraining order. Should he or she fail to do this, the court will make a decision on how to handle the stay away order.
If the victim does not go to the arraignment, the court will usually issue a temporary restraining order prohibiting contact between the defendant and the victim until the proceedings have concluded. If the victim does appear, he or she may make her wishes clear and the judge will take his or her wishes into account. In cases where a couple wishes to keep your family together, your partner may request there be a “no negative contact” order, which will allow the couple to continue contact as long as the defendant does not harass, threaten or otherwise harm him or her.
If a more standard no contact order is issued, the defendant cannot be within 100 yards of the victim, as well as his or her workplace, school or vehicle. No contact is permitted as well, so you cannot call, text or email your partner at all, even through a third party, such as a friend or your attorney. Because you cannot share a home, you can make arrangements to have a police officer accompany you to your home to remove your belongings. In some cases, limited contact may be authorized for the purposes of custody and visitation of your children.
Violating these orders is against the law and can result in additional criminal charges, however you can fight these accusations your criminal defense attorney. For example, if you did not know your former partner would be at a restaurant and you left as soon as you saw him or her, you can claim you did not willingly commit a violation of the stay away order.
If you have been accused of any type of domestic violence charges or want more information about the arraignment process, please call Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.
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