DOMESTIC VIOLENCE Frequently Asked Questions
If you have been accused of domestic violence, you may have a lot of questions. I am domestic violence attorney Peter M. Liss and after fighting these charges for more than 35 years, I know what questions are most pressing for those who have been accused of domestic battery or assault. If you have been arrested or believe your partner may report you for this crime, please call my office today to schedule a free initial consultation. In the meanwhile, here are some of the most common domestic violence charges FAQ and their answers.
What Is Domestic Violence?
When two people are, or were, involved in a romantic or sexual relationship and one person physically harms the other, domestic violence has occurred. This crime also takes place when someone is charged for threats of violence, stalking or vandalism (even of shared property) against any person with whom he or she is or was in a relationship.
If I Am Not Married to Someone, Can They Still Accuse Me of Domestic Violence?
Yes, while this charge is most commonly associated with married couples, many others, including lovers, exes, people who have had a child together and more can be accused of domestic violence. The sexual orientation of the people in question does not matter either. In some cases, these charges may also be applied when someone abuses a cohabiting elder or family member.
In fact, one of the most commonly asked of all domestic violence questions is whether or not a particular relationship falls under the umbrella of “domestic” relationships covered by the law. If you’re not sure whether or not the person who accused you should be protected by this law or if you will face more standard battery charges, be sure to ask your criminal defense attorney.
Does Domestic Violence Only Occur When a Man Hits a Woman?
No, this is perhaps one of the most common myths that needs to be cleared up. The law states that victims of domestic violence cases can be either gender and so can the aggressor. That means domestic abuse can occur between two women, two men or when a woman hits a man. If the two people have an intimate relationship together, these charges can be filed regardless of the gender of the victim or the suspect.
I Was Arrested For Domestic Violence, But The Victim Doesn’t Want to Press Charges. Will I Be Released?
No. Unfortunately, the prosecutors will still often press charges in these cases even if the victim does not want the case to move forward. That is why you should always speak with your defense lawyer as soon as you are involved in a domestic violence case -even if you know your partner won’t press charges. Do not speak to the victim on the phone as this could violate your emergency stay away order (aka restraining order) and leave you facing even more severe charges.
If There Were No Physical Marks on the Victim, Can I Still Be Charged With Domestic Violence?
Yes. These charges can be brought up for pushing, hair pulling and even emotional abuse combined with threats of physical violence. Actions that leave the victim severely injured can result in more serious charges though.
Can You Actually Fight Domestic Violence Charges?
Yes, you can fight and win. When you work with the domestic violence attorney law firm of Peter M. Liss, you will get the strongest possible legal defense for your case, whether it involves arguing that you were acting in self-defense, that the prosecution does not have enough evidence, that you have been wrongly accused and more. It is important to contact a criminal lawyer right away. In many cases, an experienced lawyer can present evidence to the prosecutor and get the charges reduced or even dropped.
Are Domestic Violence Arrests Mandatory?
A lot of people wonder if police have to make an arrest when called in for “well check” during a domestic violence situation and this is certainly one of the most common domestic FAQ around. While the answer is technically no, the reality is that if police find any evidence that either party committed an assault, they will make an arrest. In fact, they almost always do make an arrest, even if the alleged victim objects.
One thing that frequently surprises people is how often the police will actually arrest both people because they believe both parties may be guilty of domestic violence and they cannot determine who was the aggressor. Many people arrested for the crime are particularly surprised because they were the ones who called the police in the first place. If this happened to you, it may add to your defense if you and your attorney decide to argue that you only acted in self defense.
Is there Always a Restraining Order?
When police make a domestic violence arrest, they may issue an emergency restraining order at the request of the alleged victim, which requires the accused abuser to avoid contact with the alleged victim for 7 days. It is up to the victim to file for a temporary restraining order after that period, though in some cases, the Court may still impose a restraining order (Criminal Protective Order) against the victim’s wishes. If the victim does not appear at the arraignment to advocate against it, the court will automatically issue a restraining order on his or her behalf.
If someone obtains a temporary restraining order against you, you can fight the permanent restraining order in court with the help of a criminal attorney.
Can I Go Home With a Restraining Order in Place?
When a restraining order is issued, you will need to leave your home (assuming you and the alleged victim live together) for the duration of the order. However, the court will give you an opportunity to enter your home under observation of law enforcement officials in order to retrieve your stuff. This is usually a one-time occurrence and if there are any disputes as to who owns belongings you attempt to take with you, you will not be allowed to take them.
I Have a Restraining Order Against Me, Can I See My Kids?
You can learn more about how domestic violence charges and family concerns here, but when it comes to child custody and restraining orders, this is something that should be addressed in court when the restraining order is issued. In some cases, there may be exceptions in the restraining order for you to have temporary contact with the protected party in order for child visitation to occur, but this must be addressed at the hearing. If the restraining order does not specifically allow for you to see your children, you cannot violate it in order to do so.
Some of these cases turn into divorces or child custody battles and the custody issues have to be settled in Family Court. A domestic violence conviction will, however, prevent someone from having custody of their children.
How Can I Avoid Breaking a Restraining Order?
Avoiding someone completely can be difficult, even in a massive county like San Diego, and especially if you live in the same city together. That’s why the court allows you to defend yourself if you have been accused of violating a restraining order. Intent is important in this crime, so if you accidentally showed up somewhere without knowing your ex was there, you are not guilty of violating the restraining order.
That being said, do not be fooled into thinking that the restraining order no longer matters because the alleged victim contacts you. If your ex starts to contact you, you can still be charged with violating a restraining order if you reply or return to your home. If your ex is contacting you, call your defense attorney to discuss bringing this information to the judge as it might be enough to get the restraining order lifted.
As a top Vista attorney, I have helped hundreds of clients just like you fight domestic violence charges including corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant, domestic battery, criminal threats, stalking, aggravated trespassing, restraining order violations, firearm possession and vandalism. If you have been charged with any of these crimes or if you have any questions not addressed by this list of domestic violence FAQ, please call my office as soon as possible to schedule a free initial consultation. I offer reasonable rates, accept all major credit cards and my offices are conveniently located just across the street from the Vista jail and courthouse.
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For more information on domestic violence, please see our main Domestic Violence page.