When it comes to domestic violence, California has a mandatory arrest policy. This means if law enforcement officials have probable cause that any violence has happened, they must make an arrest, even if an alleged victim decides to not press charges. An alleged offender will likely spend the day/night in jail until arraignment, which is the first court date, or until he/she posts bail.
During the initial investigation, officers on the scene will write up a report, comprised of statements made by the alleged victim, the alleged offender, and any witnesses. Then, the report is sent to the District Attorney (DA) who will look at all the facts of the case and determine whether to reject the case or file charges.
The prosecution needs to prove the following elements – beyond a reasonable doubt – to find a person guilty of domestic violence:
If the DA believes they can prove all these elements based on the available evidence, he/she will charge the alleged offender with domestic violence. Common examples of domestic violence crimes include domestic battery, corporal injury to a spouse or inhabitant, stalking, criminal threats, child abuse, child endangerment, elder abuse, aggravated trespass, and even revenge porn.
Additionally, after an arrest, an alleged victim will be offered an emergency protective order (EPO) by the police, which is then issued by a judicial officer. This type of protective order can be issued at any time of day. Violating an EPO can lead to another arrest.
While an EPO protects an alleged victim from the date of the dispute until arraignment. At arraignment, a stay-away order could be issued against the alleged offender. This order lasts until the conclusion of the case.
Not only does a conviction result in jail or prison time and fines, but also a permanent criminal record, restitution to the victim, payment to the domestic violence fund, enrollment in a “batterer’s treatment program,” loss of child custody rights, and loss of gun rights. After an arrest, it is imperative to seek immediate legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney to get your charges dropped or reduced.
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