Articles Posted in Domestic Violence

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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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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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domestic-abuse-los-angeles-300x200With the ongoing threat of COVID-19 dominating the news cycles these days, an important related news story has been inadvertently buried amid the headlines. Some have tried to accentuate the positive behind stay-at-home orders as an opportunity to spend more time with family and loved ones, but for many households dealing with various degrees of dysfunction, quarantine has made a bad situation much worse—marked by a notable spike in the number of domestic violence incidents.

As reported by NPR, the U.N. warned that they were aware of “a horrifying surge in domestic violence” in the weeks following lockdowns around the globe. South Africa reported 90,000 incidents of violence against women in the first week following their quarantine orders. Reports out of Turkey indicate murder rates against women have increased significantly since their stay-at-home orders were issued in early March. Many countries have reported double the volume of calls to their domestic abuse hotlines. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Here in the U.S., the numbers seem to confirm this trend as overall reports of DV are on the rise here, as well. NBC News reports at least 18 law enforcement agencies out of 22 contacted have reported significant increases in domestic violence calls—ranging between 18-35 percent higher from city to city.

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Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-1-300x200Being arrested and charged with domestic violence even once can create serious disruption in a person’s life. However, for recidivist (repeat) offenders, the problems and consequences get decidedly worse. What happens if a person convicted of DV becomes a repeat offender, especially here in California where the laws on domestic violence are particularly stringent?

The impact of a domestic violence arrest is bad enough on its own, but if you don’t take significant steps to address the issue(s) that led to your arrest, that single incident can lead you down a slippery slope. Let’s take a look at some sobering statistics provided by the Public Policy Institute of California:

  • Fifty-three percent of domestic violence offenders have no prior history of domestic violence arrests.
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domestic-violence-defense-LA-300x197Few things in life can have a more profound negative impact on a family than domestic violence. Even being charged with DV, regardless of guilt or innocence, can deeply disrupt your world and leave lasting repercussions long after the fact.

But here’s the good news: These events don’t have to define the rest of your life. No matter how bad the circumstances, by acting and living with purpose going forward, you can move past those domestic violence charges and begin making your world better. The start of a new year and new decade affords a perfect opportunity to put the past in your rearview mirror. Let’s discuss some practical ways for you to prevent the bad things of the previous decade from following you into the 2020s.

Refuse to See Yourself as a Victim

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Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-9-300x200Domestic violence is, unfortunately, one of the most common crimes of our time. DV claims more than 30,000 lives worldwide each year, most of them women. Here in the U.S., DV arrests range in the hundreds of thousands each year, and that doesn’t account for the many other incidents that never get reported. (Some estimate there are as many as 10 million victims per year.) And while many of these stories make the headlines, the sheer numbers of them often get buried among other stories.

That said, every so often a particular story stands out to us for one reason or another. Now that the 2010s have come to a close, let’s take a look at a few of the more noteworthy domestic violence cases from the past decade to see what we can learn from them–in particular, how they can help those accused of DV understand their story in context and use this point in their lives as a positive turning point.

Russian Woman Loses Her Hands to Domestic Violence

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Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-10-300x200If we were to time-travel back several decades, we’d see a time in America when domestic violence was “winked at” by our culture. Couples fight, we’d reason to ourselves, and sometimes they hit each other. Incidents of violence in the home were difficult to prove, and law enforcement got involved only reluctantly. Patterns of ongoing abuse would go largely unchecked behind closed doors, largely because most cases were never reported.

Fast-forward to today, and it’s a much different story, especially in states like California, which has led the way in enacting stricter laws and penalties against domestic violence. California today has one of the most expansive and strictest sets of laws intended to protect the victims and prevent patterns of domestic abuse. That said, the laws have become so focused on protecting the victims that unfortunately, sometimes honest misunderstandings get classified as crimes, and innocent people get caught in the crossfire. Simply being accused of domestic violence can cause a person to be arrested, forced from their home and blocked from seeing their children at least until the accusations are sorted out. Even a misdemeanor conviction comes with mandatory jail time, loss of gun rights and other penalties. The victims do, in fact, receive much-needed protection, but for the accused, it’s never been more critical to have an experienced attorney to ensure a fair defense.

If you have recently been arrested for, or charged with, suspected domestic violence, it’s more important than ever to know what you’re up against. The following overview should help provide context regarding the most common charges and what constitutes domestic violence in this state.

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