Were you arrested for domestic violence (DV) in San Diego, CA? For many people charged with DV, it’s their first encounter with the justice system. It can be a scary time that can upend your life and cause extreme stress on your whole family. Understanding what to expect and hiring an experienced San Diego domestic violence attorney can help put your mind at ease.
Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers has more than a decade of criminal law trial experience and knows the local San Diego court system. We are known for our personal attention and commitment to achieving the best possible result for every client, no matter the charges. We’ve helped clients move on with their lives after accusations of domestic violence, just like what you’re facing. We know the process of a domestic violence case inside and out.
How Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers Can Help with the Domestic Violence Process
We understand how distressing it is to face domestic violence charges. These are highly emotional proceedings with high stakes. You could lose the right to see your children and be forced to leave your home. You need a San Diego domestic violence attorney who takes the time to learn your specific circumstances and one who has the experience to get the best outcome. That’s why you should have Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers in your corner.
When you choose our legal team to help with your domestic violence case, we’ll:
- Conduct our own investigation into the allegations against you
- Interview witnesses to get a complete picture of the situation and to gather evidence to support your defense
- Fight attempts to issue a protective order/restraining order
- Negotiate with the prosecutor for reduced charges, dismissal, or terms favorable to you and your family
- Aggressively defend you in all court proceedings
We know how much is on the line. We dedicate our resources to getting your life back. Your initial consultation is completely free, so don’t put it off any longer. Call now to let us start fighting for you.
What Is the Process of a Domestic Violence Case in San Diego?
There are four distinct phases of the process of a domestic violence case.
Phase 1 – Arrest and Investigation
If police are called for a domestic violence situation, it’s likely to result in an arrest. That’s because California has a statute “encouraging” law enforcement to make an arrest if they suspect domestic violence has taken place. They must make an arrest if a protective order has been violated.
Often, both parties have some role in the incident. However, arresting both parties is discouraged. Instead, police will question the parties at the scene and try to decide who is the “dominant aggressor.” The dominant aggressor means the most significant (in the officer’s determination), not the first aggressor.
Don’t be alarmed if you are booked on felony charges. That’s common because it increases your bail amount, and they’re trying to keep you away from the alleged victim for as long as possible. Felony charges can be reduced to a misdemeanor. That’s why it’s important to hire the right attorney for the job.
Call your attorney as soon as you have the opportunity after your arrest. They can make sure you don’t say anything that can hurt your case. And they can help you understand how to navigate the bail process.
Phase 2 – Pre-filing Intervention
A domestic violence conviction on your record can cause you all kinds of problems. During the pre-filing stage, your attorney negotiates with the prosecutor to get the most favorable outcome. It’s important to understand that the alleged victim cannot drop the charges. Many people feel regretful after the incident because they’ve falsely accused someone in a fit of rage. But by then, it’s too late – the process is already in motion.
There are a number of possible options during the pre-file stage. Sometimes your lawyer can get the charges completely dismissed. You could be eligible for a pre-trial diversion or deferred entry of judgment. If that’s not possible, your attorney may be able to get the charges reduced. If you were charged with a felony, they could negotiate to get the charge reduced to a misdemeanor.
Or, they can try to get the charges changed to something that won’t look as bad on your record as domestic abuse. Some common alternative charges include damaging a phone line, disturbing the peace, or aggravated trespass.
Phase 3 – Arraignment and Pretrial Hearings
Arraignment is when you appear in court to hear the formal charges against you and enter a plea (usually, you’ll be pleading not guilty). Arraignment is often a quick proceeding, and in almost all cases, you will have to appear in person.
Protective orders are often issued at the time of arraignment. That’s an order issued by the court preventing you from having any contact with the victim. This will usually cover the timeframe while the case is pending, but it can be amended depending on the circumstances.
After arraignment, you typically will be free to go (assuming you were released on bail). You will have a pretrial date set, and there may be several proceedings or negotiations before the actual trial. There may be hearings to present evidence, motions to exclude evidence, or to hear testimony. Generally, there is an effort during the pretrial stage to settle the case without going to trial.
Phase 4 – Trial
If you’re unable to come to a resolution, then the court will proceed with a full trial on the domestic violence charges.
This is the formal proceeding where the prosecution has to prove the charges against you beyond a reasonable doubt. Depending on what happened before trial, the elements the prosecutor has to prove may not be as severe as what you were originally arrested or charged with.
Your attorney will advise you along the way as to whether it’s in your best interest to settle or whether to go to trial. Many victims or other witnesses aren’t willing to testify, or their stories often just don’t add up. If that’s the case, you may have a good chance at trial.
Your trial may be before a jury or just before a judge (called a “bench trial”). Each side presents evidence, and then the jury or judge will make a decision. Your lawyer will prepare you for trial and make sure you know what to expect. If you’re convicted, there will be a hearing set for the judge to impose your sentence.
Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers Can Help
The process of a domestic violence case can vary widely depending on the circumstances of the case. But no matter what, the stakes for you and your family are high. It is important to reach out to a reputable San Diego domestic violence lawyer as soon as possible for legal representation.
We can help you each step of the way and offer a free consultation, so please do not hesitate to contact us today.