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Damien (not his real name) sat sullenly in the office of the licensed counselor. Recently arrested for the third time on domestic violence charges against his girlfriend, he was disgusted at his own behavior—and surprisingly puzzled and baffled at his uncontrolled impulses and where they had landed him. Frustrated, he asked the counselor one of the most common questions asked by DV defendants: “How did I get here?”bully-and-DV-los-angeles-300x150

The counselor asked a question that threw Damien off guard: “Were you ever bullied as a child?”

Damien began to weep.

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No one especially likes to be pulled over by a cop—and for most of us, the experience can be highly intimidating, even if we feel we have nothing to worry about. We go through a litany of internal questions: Was I speeding? Is my tail light out? Did I not come to a complete stop? Was I swerving? If you had anything to drink before getting behind the wheel, these concerns can multiply: Did I drink more than I thought? What if I’m asked to take a test? Could I pass a breathalyzer?

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Policeman giving driver speeding ticket

That said, most of us think of a traffic stop or even a DUI arrest as something that is happening to us—we don’t necessarily look at it from the perspective of law enforcement. So let’s take a few minutes to explore that experience in the mind of the police officer—look at her rationale and thought process when pulling someone over, to see what insights we might gain from it.

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Recreational marijuana became legal in the state of California on January 1, 2018—but “recreational use” does not include smoking it in the car. As the Mercury News points out,  a new state law makes it officially illegal for drivers and passengers alike to smoke weed in vehicles—just one attempt to curb what officials fear will be an upsurge in drug-related DUI in the wake of legalized pot.

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Frontal lobe – Human brain in x-ray view

Some users might be tempted to view marijuana as a “grey area” drug when it comes to driving. After all, THC, the substance in weed that makes you high, is difficult to measure in the body, and in fact it can remain detectible in your blood stream for days after you use it, making it even more difficult to measure. However, make no mistake: Multiple studies have shown that marijuana use has a significant impact on people’s ability to drive safely, and that pot in your system increases your risk of getting into an accident. Furthermore, no matter how difficult it is to measure how much THC is in your system or when it got there, if an officer suspects you’re impaired while driving, he can arrest you based on that suspicion. In fact, as the law mentioned above states, you can be arrested for smoking it in a car even if you’re a passenger.

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If you’ve been recently charged with domestic violence, your life could become quite complicated very quickly, especially if convicted. However, this time can also be a teaching moment—an opportunity to step back from this dark chapter and learn a more productive way of thinking and communicating.NVC-domestic-violence-300x214

The reasons why we humans sometimes turn to violence and aggression are too numerous and complex to explain here—nor are we qualified to delve into the psychology behind it. However, as the University of Michigan points out, domestic violence typically occurs as a repeating cycle, one that begins with a breakdown of communication. It naturally follows that if couples can create meaningful channels of communication, the cycle of domestic violence may be interrupted. The problem in many cases is that one or the other partner doesn’t understand the best ways to communicate—and the resulting frustration may erupt into aggression.

In the 1960s, an American psychologist named Marshall Rosenberg—himself a domestic violence victim from childhood—developed a process called Nonviolent Communication. The underlying theory behind this approach is that humans are innately compassionate, and violence is a learned behavior that develops from the inability to communicate needs effectively. Rosenberg utilized these principles quite effectively as a mediator to diffuse tensions between rioting college students and college administrators in the turbulent ’60s, as well as in peacemaking efforts during the desegregation process of the civil rights era. Since those days, many have utilized these principles to learn to communicate more compassionately and effectively.

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For many people who find themselves facing domestic violence charges, the problem doesn’t usually begin with the act of violence itself. For most, that catalyst is anger. The violence occurs as an end result of the person’s inability to control the angry emotions welling up inside.anger-300x215

If you’re convicted of a domestic violence charge in California, and sentenced to probation instead of jail, chances are you’ll also be required to attend a “batterer’s class” or some sort of anger management counseling as part of your sentence. But are anger management programs truly effective, and can they help reduce the chances of a repeat offense?

As with most issues, the answer to this question isn’t a clear “yes, it works” or “no, it doesn’t.” The effectiveness of any anger management course depends as much on the cooperation of the participant as it does the nature of the course itself. Modern psychology has recommended a variety of approaches to anger management; some have proven more fruitful than others, and experts now feel some traditional approaches have actually backfired.

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If you’ve ever been pulled over by a cop on suspicion of DUI, chances are you have been asked to submit to a breathalyzer test. This small device presumably (magically?) somehow measures the alcohol content in your blood by analyzing your breath, and whatever it reveals may influence the officer’s decision whether or not to arrest you.breathalyzer-test-los-angeles-300x168

But what, exactly, is the breathalyzer measuring? Is the reading accurate? What are your rights if an officer asks you to blow into a breathalyzer? Are these devices a truly effective deterrent against DUI? Let’s take a closer look at this technology—how it works, how it is used in real-life contexts with police, and what the future may hold as the technology develops.

How Alcohol Is Detected through Your Breath

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California law is decidedly severe when it comes to crimes of domestic violence—to the point that even being charged with a DV offDV-los-angelesense should evoke a sense of fear. Whether you are guilty or wrongfully accused, if a bad situation at home results in being charged with a crime, you should be as informed as possible about each charge, and its possible penalties, so you know what to expect and how to be prepared.

To that end, we’ve compiled the following catalogue of some of the more common domestic violence crimes, as defined by the California Penal Code.

Corporal Injury on a Spouse or Cohabitant

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On January 1, 2018, California officially became the eighth state to legalize cannabis for recreational use—a move that USA Today pCalifornia-marijuana-DUI-los-angeles-300x197redicts will cause an economic “gold rush” in the state worth up to $5.1 billion in its first year. While you shouldn’t expect the Los Angeles smog in general to suddenly take on a familiar pungent smell, don’t be surprised to see a few more “superstores” popping up on your way to work. You may also need to be a bit more wary of other drivers on the roadways, as law enforcement officials have expressed concerns about the possibility of more accidents caused by impaired drivers. (More on that point in a moment.)

That all being said, if you plan to take advantage of legalized pot, you should understand that the new California marijuana laws don’t add up to a free-for-all for partakers and enthusiasts. Let’s look at some of the more important caveats you should keep in mind.

There’s a Limit to What You Can Carry

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You’ve been charged with a domestic violence crime. You’re worried about your future, your relationships and your freedom. Will you have to go to jail? Will your significant other take you back? How can you avoid overly-harsh punishment or refute what you believe are baseless accusations against you?global-domestic-violence-stats-300x300

While analyzing all these worries, it’s easy to feel isolated. The cultural taboo against domestic violence–especially alleged attacks on children–is profound in the United States. And understandably so. Even if you committed a “bad” act in a moment of passion or weakness, you (hopefully!) don’t wish for a more violent world. But obtaining compassion from friends and family–or even basic understanding–in the wake of DV charges can be hard.

You might find it useful to look outside of your situation and take a 20,000 foot view. How do other countries and cultures grapple with the challenges of domestic violence? What do they do (or fail to do) to protect and be sensitive to victims? What safeguards do they have in place (or not) to ensure fair treatment of the accused?

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If you’ve been charged with any crime—whether the charge is Los Angeles DUI, domestic abuse or something else—neither the prosecutor nor your defense attorney will rely solely on physical evidence to prove your guilt or innocence. Much of the evidence presented comes in the form of verbal testimony from witnesses—people who saw what happened, people who can attest to your whereabouts, experts called to weigh in on certain matters, etc. The problem is this: Verbal testimony is based mostly on memory, and memory can be a fleeting thing.rashomon-defense-los-angeles-DUI

And the result is that, many times, when different witnesses offer conflicting testimony, it doesn’t necessarily mean one of them is intentionally lying. Sometimes it’s simply that those people remember the events differently. The jury then has the unhappy task of figuring out the truth, by listening to these alternative versions.

The Science of Memory and the “Rashomon Effect”

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