We all agree that ending domestic violence would be a good thing. We have all seen startling statistics. Maybe we even know someone who has been involved in domestic violence. While stopping domestic violence is the goal, we also must ensure that everybody's rights are protected and that due process takes place. This means that someone accused of domestic violence is presumed innocent unless proven otherwise in a court of law.
What we all also agree on is that information is key. Here are five things you may not have known about domestic violence in California.
- The victim, or alleged victim, cannot drop the charges because charges against anyone accused of domestic violence are brought by the state of California, not the alleged victim. The prosecution decides whether or not to move the case forward.
- In many states the victim must testify. Not in California. In our state a victim, or alleged victim, can refuse to testify.
- A criminal protection order will most likely be issued by the court at the first court hearing ordering the accused to stay away from the alleged victim and prohibiting any form of contact.
- A victim, or alleged victim, may either seek restitution in a criminal case or may sue the accused in a civil case. This means a victim may proceed with a civil suit that charges the accused for injuries suffered, lost wages and psychological injuries
- A domestic violence conviction has damning immigration consequences. As a result an accused could be deported or removed.
While a victim or alleged victim can recant his or her original statement, this may not influence the prosecutor's charges. If the prosecution believes that a victim or alleged victim lied to law enforcement or while testifying under oath, it could in fact lead to the victim or alleged victim being criminally charged with falsifying information and/or perjury, also crimes. Charges are not only based on what the alleged victim says but also on police reports, photographs and other evidence.
Criminal charges are serious and have lasting consequences. There are many ways of defending against a domestic violence charge. If you are charged with a domestic-violence related crime, speak with an attorney who has experience handling these cases.