Peter Blair | May 25, 2022 | Domestic Violence
Allegations of domestic violence are serious. In many cases, domestic violence charges begin when an alleged victim calls the police to report domestic violence or petitions the court for a domestic violence restraining order.
The police officers usually err on the side of caution in domestic violence cases. If there is any justification for probable cause, they arrest the alleged abuser. The prosecutor must then decide whether to prosecute the person for domestic violence.
At this point, the matter is out of the hands of the victim. Even if the victim changes their mind after they call the police, the police officers can arrest the person for domestic violence if they believe the suspect committed the crime.
The prosecutor can proceed with the criminal case if they feel they have evidence to prove their case. It does not matter whether or not the victim wants to press charges for domestic violence. It is up to the prosecutor to decide whether to move forward with a criminal case based on the evidence.
What Happens When a Victim Refuses to Cooperate with a Domestic Violence Criminal Case?
The prosecutor may not believe they need the victim’s testimony to obtain a conviction at trial. There could be other evidence of domestic violence, including eyewitness statements, medical records, photographs of injuries, and police testimony.
However, the prosecutor generally calls the victim as a witness at the criminal trial. If the witness refuses to appear in court, the prosecutor may ask for an order compelling the witness to appear and testify at trial.
If the victim fails to obey the court order, the judge may find the victim is in contempt of court. The victim could face penalties for failing to obey the court’s order.
Sometimes a witness tries to change their testimony at trial. When that happens, the prosecutor may impeach the victim by using statements made by the victim during a 911 call or to the police officers.
Can a Victim Decide They Do Not Want a Restraining Order?
Civil courts issue restraining orders upon the request of a domestic violence victim. Unlike criminal charges, the victim can withdraw the request for a restraining order.
However, judges generally review requests to withdraw a restraining order. They want to ensure that the victim is making the request of their own free will. If the judge finds that the abuser is threatening the victim or another party coerces the victim to cancel the restraining order, the judge may deny the request.
What Is Considered Domestic Violence in California?
Domestic violence can include physical, emotional, and financial abuse of a family member. Examples of criminal charges you could face regarding allegations of domestic violence include:
- Domestic battery
- Violating a protective order
- Child endangerment
- Cyberstalking and stalking
- Child abuse
- Sex crimes
Domestic battery can involve your current or former spouse and current or former romantic partners. Other parties who might allege domestic battery include the parent of the alleged abuser’s child and current and former cohabitants (roommates or partners).
What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence Crimes in San Diego?
The penalty depends on the charges and the facts of the case. However, penalties the judge may order for a conviction of domestic violence include:
- Temporary and permanent restraining orders
- Jail or prison sentences
- Protective orders
- Mandatory counseling
- Payments to a battered women’s shelter
Many domestic violence charges are wobbler offenses. That means the prosecutor could charge you with a misdemeanor or felony. Therefore, a domestic violence conviction could count against California’s Three Strikes Law.
Additionally, the collateral consequences of a domestic violence conviction could be far-reaching.
For example, domestic violence allegations can impact child custody and visitation cases. Restraining orders can restrict where you live, work, or travel. You could lose your right to own a firearm or qualify for a professional license.
What Should You Do If You Are Facing Domestic Violence Charges in San Diego?
Do not contact the alleged victim or anyone close to the victim. Even attempting to contact the victim could result in additional criminal charges.
Do not talk to the police or the prosecutor without a San Diego domestic violence lawyer present. You cannot talk your way out of this situation by explaining your side of things. The more you talk to law enforcement officers, the more difficult you make it for your criminal defense attorney to build a defense to the charges.
Instead, remain silent except for asking for your lawyer. Tell your lawyer everything that happened and let your attorney investigate the claim.
It can be frustrating to sit by while someone accuses you of domestic violence. However, the best thing you can do for yourself now is let your lawyer do their job to defend you against the charges.