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Los-Angeles-domestic-violence2-300x200No matter the circumstances, being arrested on suspicion of domestic violence is a scary matter. It can be highly disruptive to your family, your job, your routine—and if you’re convicted of a crime, possibly your future, as well. Just being arrested, especially if it’s unexpected, can fill you with uncertainty. What kind of charges are you facing? Will you be charged with a misdemeanor, a felony, or a combination of the two?

In the State of California, every charge of domestic violence is serious, but some instances are treated as misdemeanors and some as felonies—each with vastly different ramifications if you’re convicted. Understanding what you may be charged with can help you go into the judicial process more informed and better prepared. Let’s unpack this topic and explore which types of domestic violence charges are usually tried as misdemeanors and which as felonies.

Differences between Misdemeanor and Felony Charges

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2020-Los-Angeles-domestic-violence-1-300x200If there’s one standout news story regarding domestic violence in 2020, it’s the one that has been the most often repeated: the coronavirus pandemic has caused a significant spike in domestic violence cases across the globe. City after city and nation after nation began reporting increases in domestic violence calls starting shortly after quarantines began—along with increased cases of sexual abuse and child abuse. The massive effort to keep people safe from the virus with stay-at-home orders has had the unwanted effect of isolating victims in close quarters with their abusers.

Keeping this new uncomfortable reality in context, every tragic story of domestic violence typically contains a lesson—one that may ultimately help keep other couples from experiencing the same thing. Let’s take a look at some of the most noteworthy news stories about domestic violence over the past year to see what we can learn from them.

An Awakening at Death’s Door

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teenage-DV-defense-200x300We typically think of domestic violence as occurring between married couples, live-in partners, adults who are dating, etc. But what happens when a teenager is arrested and charged with domestic violence? Perhaps the teen got into a physical altercation with a girlfriend or boyfriend, or maybe the teen allegedly attacked a parent, sibling, or another relative. What does the process look like then?

If you are a teenager facing domestic violence charges—or a parent with a teenager who’s been charged—you may naturally feel some apprehension about what to expect. Whether this was a simple misunderstanding or someone actually crossed a legal line, how will these criminal charges affect your life and future, or that of your child?

Juvenile or Adult?

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DV-red-flags-300x172Domestic violence is more common in America than anyone is comfortable admitting. The latest estimates from the CDC say 1 in 4 women and 1 in 10 men suffer from some form of intimate partner violence. And over the past few months, reports across the board have consistently told us that domestic violence rates are increasing dramatically due to the pandemic. That’s enough to categorize domestic violence as a public health crisis.

And yet, it’s a public health crisis that is one-hundred percent preventable.

Domestic violence doesn’t happen arbitrarily or in a vacuum. No one simply wakes up in the morning, randomly decides to become violent with their partner, and finds themselves under arrest by evening. There are almost always warning signs or “red flags” that usually occur in advance of an altercation that ends with domestic violence charges. If you can see these red flags and take preventative action early, you can save yourself and your family a lot of pain, heartache, and stress. Let’s talk about some of these “red flags” and what you can do to reduce the risks.

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Argument-leading-to-domestic-violence-arrest-201x300It happens more often than you might think. You get into a heated discussion with your spouse, partner, or significant other. Tempers flare, voices are raised, tensions escalate. You’re now in a shouting match—perhaps loud enough to get the attention of the neighbors. Concerned, someone calls the police. Before you realize it, one of you is arrested and carried off on suspicion of domestic violence.

This type of scenario can be baffling, confusing, and frightening—for one or both of the people involved. Perhaps in your mind—and even in the mind of your partner—the two of you were just having a fight, a lover’s spat. Maybe no punches were even thrown. Was it, in fact, domestic violence? Is there enough evidence for the charges to stick? At what point does a basic family argument cross the line into domestic violence? Let’s unpack this question a little, looking at it first through the eyes of California law, and then from the standpoint of real life.

What the Law Says

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c-12559-1598658708762-040dd57758769a27d6695cd814003e81-300x200Domestic violence rarely takes place in a vacuum. Long before law enforcement gets involved and makes an arrest, there are usually underlying factors at work in the household that create conditions that are just primed for an argument or escalating tensions to get out of hand. These risk factors can include things like stress, emotional turmoil, mental illness, substance abuse, financial worries, and a slew of other possible issues.

During this ongoing pandemic, families are continuing to spend lots of time at home or in quarantine. That fact alone can put the family at higher risk for those underlying factors to eventually erupt into violence. The specific issues may be different in every household. Still, if you can identify these factors and find constructive ways to deal with them, you can often break the cycle of escalation and make your family safer at home.

To help with this process, we’ve compiled a list of programs and resources available to Los Angeles-area residents. Some of these resources are government-funded and operated, while others may be private organizations—and this is by no means an exhaustive list. But if you believe your family could be at heightened risk, this list will hopefully provide a starting point to get the help you need.

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DV-attorney-defense-Los-Angeles-1-300x200When we talk about cases of domestic violence under California law, in most situations we’re referring to violence or abuse between “intimate partners,”—that is, spouses, ex-spouses, domestic partners, and current and former dating relationships. But of course, these aren’t the only family relationships in which domestic violence can occur. Siblings may become violent toward one another. Violence may also be directed toward (or emanate from) aunts, nephews, grandparents, step-parents…the list goes on.

Domestic violence within these relationships may not always be easy to resolve. Unlike spousal or dating relationships which may be severed by separation and divorce, inter-family DV situations may touch many other mutual relationships, either through blood or marriage. It might not be as simple to “cut off” a particular relationship or create a long-term physical separation between two parties, especially when the larger family is concerned. The effects of a violent or abusive relationship within these ranks may reverberate within the family for years to come. Let’s talk about how the law addresses domestic violence of these types, then discuss the long-term implications for families and ways to bring healing.

The Legal Piece

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Los-Angeles-domestic-violence-defense-June-2020-1-300x200During the weeks and months of quarantine across the country as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the sometimes-startling upticks in domestic violence cases have been well-documented across the country. A few weeks ago, we posted a blog discussing the rise in DV cases and exploring the various contributing factors (including increased stress, unemployment, close proximity, etc.). Even as life and work resume for many of us (including here in California), the recent spikes in COVID-19 may eventually spark more lockdowns—and possibly additional hotbed situations where increased domestic violence may occur.

Now that we’re several months into this pandemic, let’s take another snapshot of this issue by looking at some of the more recent news stories regarding domestic violence and coronavirus.

Possible Increase in Unreported Domestic Violence Cases in L.A.

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DUI-YouTuber-accident-300x169On Saturday, May 9, rising YouTube star Corie La Barrie posted a short video announcing he would be live-streaming his 25th birthday party on Twitch the following day. “We might get a little bit drunk,” he whispered behind his hand. The video was cheekily titled, “Deleting this Video in 24 hours.”

The video was never removed. By the end of the day on Sunday, Corie La Barrie was dead—the victim of a DUI-involved vehicle accident.

As 9 News Adelaide reports, native Australian La Barrie had been partying with his roommates at their home in Los Angeles when he got into a McLaren 600LT sportscar with Ink Master reality TV contestant Daniel Silva behind the wheel. At around 9:30 p.m., Silva reportedly lost control of the car, which then plowed into a stop sign and a tree at a high rate of speed. Authorities say Silva attempted to flee the scene before being stopped by witnesses approaching the vehicle to render aid. Both Silva and La Barrie were taken to the hospital, where La Barrie was later pronounced dead. Silva reportedly suffered a broken hip.

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domestic-violence-teletherapy-300x200Among the many things that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced to change is how domestic violence perpetrators and victims receive the help they both need. Psychotherapy and counseling are typically recommended for those who have been traumatized by violence at home. Here in California, those who are convicted of domestic violence are required to complete 52 weeks of counseling as part of their sentencing.

But stay-at-home orders have thrown a wrench into the works, so to speak. Not only has the quarantine prompted a surge in the number of domestic violence cases, but it has also created an obstacle when it comes to seeking the mental health counseling those affected by DV so desperately need.

Here’s the good news: Thanks to modern technology, many mental health professionals are now conducting sessions online through “teletherapy.” You can schedule a video chat with a therapist and attend your session online, and these sessions are now covered by most insurance plans. That being said, teletherapy has a different dynamic than in-person sessions, so it helps to be prepared for these differences. Let’s explore the topic of teletherapy when it comes to domestic violence cases, and what you need to know.

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