If a 911 call is made regarding a domestic disturbance, there is a very good chance that someone will be arrested and charged with a domestic violence offense. California law requires law enforcement officers responding to a call for even the most minor incident of domestic violence to arrest the person who they deem to be the dominant aggressor. (Penal Code section 13701.)
If there is any evidence of injury, even the smallest red mark, the party arrested can be charged with domestic violence causing a traumatic condition. (Penal Code section 273.5.) The person will typically be booked into jail on a felony charge, although the District Attorney will often file the charge as a misdemeanor. Other charges that are filed for domestic violence incidents include criminal threats (Penal Code section 422), spousal battery (Penal Code sections 242/243(e)), assault with a deadly weapon or great force (Penal Code section 245), vandalism (Penal Code section 594), damaging a telephone line (Penal Code section 591.5), or violation of a domestic violence restraining order. (Penal Code section 273.6.) Criminal charges may be filed even if the alleged victim says he or she started the fight, was not hurt, and does not want to press charges.
A conviction for an offense involving domestic violence often triggers serious collateral consequences. A non-citizen convicted of a domestic violence offense may face deportation, regardless of how long he or she has lived in the United States, or whether his or her spouse or children are United States citizens. (INA section 237(a)(2)(E)(i).) It is crucial for a lawyer representing an immigrant in a domestic violence case to understand and advise the client regarding the potential immigration consequences of a domestic violence conviction.
Domestic violence prosecutions also have serious repercussions for child custody disputes. Under California law, a parent convicted of an offense involving domestic violence is presumed to be unfit for sole or joint physical or legal custody of a child. (Family Law Code section 3044.) A conviction of even a misdemeanor involving domestic violence may subject a person to a ten year ban on firearm ownership under California law (Penal Code section 12021) and a lifelong ban under federal law. (18 U.S.C. section 922(g).)
At Nolan Barton & Olmos, we work very closely with highly qualified immigration lawyers to make sure that our clients can make the most informed decisions possible. In situations where the client is involved in divorce or child custody proceedings while the criminal case is pending, we strive to work with the family law lawyer to coordinate our efforts.
The attorneys at Nolan Barton & Olmos have achieved acquittals at jury trial in misdemeanor and felony domestic violence cases, including a case of alleged spousal homicide. We have handled countless domestic violence cases that have been dismissed without proceeding to a jury trial.