Domestic Violence in California Family Law
Domestic violence, unfortunately, touches the lives of thousands of people in California and throughout the United States. If you or a family member has experienced domestic violence of any kind, support is available. It’s essential to know your rights and the options available to you for preventing further harm. In California, state prosecutors take domestic violence very seriously. An individual who commits any type of domestic violence is not only likely to face criminal charges but also lose any custody or visitation rights they may have had. They will also likely need to comply with a strict restraining order.
You may have experienced domestic violence as a victim, the family member of a victim, or you may have been charged with domestic violence in California. Regardless of how you have experienced it, understanding the various legal implications your case is likely to contain is essential. Domestic violence is a unique area of law because it pertains to criminal law, civil law, and family law. These incidents often lead to extremely complex legal proceedings encompassing all three of these areas of law. An experienced San Diego domestic violence attorney is a crucial asset when you are involved in a domestic violence case of any kind.
What Counts as Domestic Violence?
The definition of domestic violence in California is quite broad and applies to many different situations. The term is most often used to describe spousal abuse and child abuse that occurs within a family or household. However, domestic violence can apply when violence occurs between unrelated housemates or relatives who do not live together. Some of the most commonly reported forms of domestic violence in California include:
- Physical assault and battery.
- Sexual abuse and molestation.
- Psychological abuse and terroristic threats.
- Stalking and harassment.
If you believe you have experienced any form of domestic violence in San Diego, it is vital to report it to the police immediately. The sooner you have law enforcement intervene, the more likely it is to prevent the same type of abuse from happening again in the future.
The police can also help you coordinate a temporary restraining order, possibly securing the order the same day. This will generate a court case, and a hearing date will be set. During this hearing, the judge will determine whether to terminate the temporary order or convert it to a permanent protective order. The party responsible for the domestic violence you experienced will then face criminal prosecution. Their conviction is also likely to influence any custody or visitation rights they may have.
Criminal Penalties for Domestic Violence in California
A conviction for any form of domestic violence in California often leads to substantial penalties, including fines, jail time, and loss of certain rights. The defendant will also be required to abide by the terms of the protective order issued by the court. They will not be allowed to contact the victim or their family. Additionally, they will not be allowed to physically visit certain places or come within close proximity of the victim and their family.
A domestic violence conviction will also entail various personal and professional consequences. The offender will likely be prohibited from working in certain businesses or living in certain areas. For example, if they are convicted of harming a child in any way, the court may prohibit them from working in or living near schools or daycare centers.
It’s also important to note that domestic violence convictions can lead to additional criminal charges. For example, an incident of domestic violence could potentially qualify as attempted murder depending on the scope of the defendant’s actions. It’s also possible for a defendant to face child endangerment charges or criminal convictions for sex offenses. Ultimately, domestic violence often leads to felony prosecution for more than one offense, and the defendant could face many years in state prison.
Family Law Implications for Domestic Violence
When a spouse and/or parent commits domestic violence, they not only face criminal prosecution in California but also repercussions in family law. A parent who has abused their coparent and/or their children is likely to lose any and all custody or visitation rights they previously held. However, this will not release them from a child support obligation. It is very unlikely that the offender will ever regain lost custody or visitation rights.
If you have been the victim of domestic violence in California, the first step in addressing the problem is contacting the police and securing a temporary restraining order. This should keep you and your family safe until the preliminary hearing, and then your protective order could be made permanent. Next, the state will likely start the prosecution process against the abuser. You may need to testify as a witness in their criminal trial and will need to provide sworn statements and participate in depositions. The outcome of the criminal case will then lead to civil proceedings and family court proceedings.
The victim of domestic violence has the right to seek compensation for any civil damages they incurred from the defendant’s actions. For example, if you were physically harmed and needed emergency medical care, you could sue for medical expenses and lost income, as well as pain and suffering. A family law attorney could then assist you in revising any existing child custody or visitation orders that you have with the defendant. If the domestic violence occurred while you were married, your attorney can help you initiate divorce proceedings.
Find Legal Counsel Now
Time is a critical factor in any family law matter, especially one concerning domestic violence of any kind. If you are unsure of the best steps to take after experiencing any form of domestic violence in California, you need to speak with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible. Bickford, Blado & Botros have years of experience representing a wide range of family law cases in San Diego, and we can apply our resources and experience to your case. Contact us today and schedule a consultation with our team to learn more about the legal services we provide.
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