Domestic violence charges in Orange County can be brought against anyone accused of abusing or threatening to abuse someone with whom they have an intimate or close relationship. These are unique and complicated cases for many reasons. First, allegations can arise from false or exaggerated claims of harm, typically when a family or household member tries to get the upper hand in some other legal matter, such as child custody. Also, the alleged offender can be subject to various restrictions even before their case concludes because law enforcement officials and victims can request protective orders soon after the alleged incident. Lastly, the alleged victim cannot drop charges, and the District Attorney (DA) will pursue an OC domestic violence case even if the victim does not intend to cooperate.
At the Law Offices of Randy Collins, we recognize the complexities of Orange County domestic violence matters. That is why we work relentlessly to build solid defenses and guide our clients through their cases. OC domestic violence lawyer Randy Collins is a former Deputy District Attorney who knows the tactics prosecutors use to get a conviction. This insight allows us to evaluate cases from every angle and participate and prepare for arguments against our clients. Our team has successfully handled thousands of cases and has over 45 years of combined experience. We can deliver the aggressive legal representation you need and are ready to seek a favorable result on your behalf.
To get started on your OC domestic violence case, contact us at (844) 807-8180. Your initial consultation is free.
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What Is Domestic Violence in Orange County?
An OC domestic violence offense occurs when someone harms or tries to harm a family or household member.
Family or household members include:
- Domestic partners
- Current or former cohabitants
- People who have a child together
- People related by blood or marriage
Harm can include such things as hitting, pushing, biting, kicking, or other physical abuse. However, it is not limited to causing physical pain to someone.
Harm can also consist of:
- Sexual assault
- Destroying property
- Verbal abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Psychological abuse
- Financial abuse
In Orange County, domestic violence is not its own crime separate from other offenses listed in the California Penal Code. Rather, it can be charged under any of California's laws concerning violence or attempted violence against another as long as the individuals involved were in an intimate or close relationship.
Common types of crimes charged as domestic violence in OC include, but are not limited to:
- Elder abuse (California Penal Code § 368): This offense involves engaging in physical or emotional abuse, endangerment, or financial fraud against an older person.
- Spousal abuse (California Penal Code § 273.5): A person commits this offense when they inflict corporal injury that causes a traumatic condition upon a spouse, cohabitant, fiancée or fiancé, or the other parent of their child.
- Spousal battery (California Penal Code § 243): This offense occurs when a person uses willful and unlawful force against a spouse, cohabitant, fiancée or fiancé, or the other parent of their child.
Orange County domestic violence crimes can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies. While some offenses are only misdemeanors and others are only felonies, some are "wobblers," which means they can be either.
In wobbler cases, the DA determines the level of domestic violence charge.
Their decision is based on several factors including, but not limited to:
- The defendant's criminal history
- The nature of the offense
- Whether the victim suffered injury
- The extent of the injuries.
Felonies are more serious crimes and can result in the alleged offender being sent to prison. Misdemeanors, while still severe, are considered less serious than felonies and result in up to 1 year in jail.
If you are facing misdemeanor or felony domestic violence charges in Orange County, turn to the Law Offices of Randy Collins for your defense.
Effects of a Domestic Violence Restraining Order
In an Orange County domestic violence case, the victim or law enforcement officials can seek a restraining order against the alleged offender.
Types of restraining orders include:
- Emergency Protective Orders (EPO): Police request this type of order when they believe the victim is at risk of future harm. It lasts for up to 7 days.
- Temporary Restraining Order (TRO): A victim can petition for this type of order. A judge will grant the request if they believe the victim needs additional protection from the alleged offender. It lasts for 20 to 25 days.
Restraining orders affect what the alleged offender can and can’t do while their case is pending.
If subject to a restraining order, some of the restrictions and requirements the alleged offender may face include:
- Not contacting the victim
- Staying away from the alleged victim’s home, work, or school
- Moving out of their home (if they share it with the alleged victim)
- Paying spousal or child support
- Surrendering firearms
- Completing a batterer’s intervention program
What Is the OC Domestic Violence Criminal Process?
A domestic violence case in Orange County goes through a complex criminal justice process. The steps involved can include an arrest, charges being filed, a trial, and sentencing.
Below is an outline of the OC domestic violence process:
- Report made: A domestic violence case is triggered when someone reports an alleged incident to the police. An officer will be sent to the scene, where they will ask the alleged victim and offender questions and record their observations. They may take pictures of the scene, including any injuries the alleged victim sustained or property that was damaged. The officer may also confiscate any weapons used during the offense. Depending on the situation, the officer might also ask a judge to issue an emergency protective order (EPO). The alleged victim can later seek a temporary restraining order, which lasts longer than an EPO.
- Arrest: If the officer has probable cause to believe that the alleged offender committed the domestic violence offense, they can arrest the individual. Otherwise, law enforcement officials will investigate further and make an arrest after a warrant is issued.
- Police custody: After the defendant is arrested, they will be taken to jail. They can be released on bail with the court ordering certain conditions, such as attending a batterer's intervention program or adhering to a stay-away order. The alleged victim can also request an increase in the bail amount, which the judge may grant if they feel that the victim is in danger of further harm by the alleged offender.
- Charges filed: Law enforcement officials will hand over their report to the Orange County District Attorney's Office. There, a prosecutor will review the facts of the case to determine whether to file charges. As mentioned before, the DA may choose to pursue the crime as a misdemeanor or felony.
- Arraignment: Once charges are filed, the alleged offender – referred to as a defendant – will be scheduled for their first court appearance, called an arraignment. If the defendant is in police custody, the arraignment will happen within 48 to 72 hours of their arrest; otherwise, it may be set for a couple of weeks out. During the arraignment, the judge will inform the defendant of the charges against them and ask if they plead guilty, not guilty, or no contest. A guilty or no contest plea will lead to sentencing, whereas a not guilty plea leads to further proceedings.
- Pre-trial conference (misdemeanors): During the pre-trial conference, the defendant, their Orange County domestic violence lawyer, and the DA will discuss the case. They may attempt to settle the matter before trial.
- Preliminary hearing (felonies): At a preliminary hearing, the judge will decide whether the DA has enough evidence to prosecute. The victim may be called on to testify.
- Trial: If the domestic violence case is not settled through negotiations, it will go to trial. The prosecutor must prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt to get a conviction.
Sentencing: If the defendant is convicted of domestic violence in Orange County, they
will be sentenced. The penalties they could face include, but are not
- Prison or jail time
- Completion of a 1-year batterer's intervention program
3 years of probation, with conditions such as
- Not contacting the victim
- Receiving substance abuse counseling
- Submitting to drug or alcohol testing
- Surrendering and not purchasing or acquiring any weapons
The above provides a brief overview of the stages of an Orange County domestic violence case, and our attorneys at the Law Offices of Randy Collins can discuss the process with you further. We will ensure that you understand what's involved in resolving your case and avenues we can pursue to seek an optimal outcome.
Can the Victim Drop an OC Domestic Violence Charge?
The victim cannot drop domestic violence charges. The decision of whether to move forward with the case rests solely on the prosecutor. Although the victim may make their desires known, the DA can prosecute even without their cooperation.
Thus, if you have been accused of domestic violence in Orange County, do not try to resolve your case by discussing the matter with the alleged victim. Doing so will not lead to the desired result, and you could end up facing additional criminal charges.
Before making any decisions concerning your case, speak with our Orange County domestic violence attorney. We can give you the advice and guidance you need. We will also identify and pursue solutions to have the matter settled outside of trial.
Reach Out to a Skilled OC Domestic Violence Lawyer
Domestic violence charges in OC are serious. You need a staunch defender on your side to attack the allegations against you. At the Law Offices of Randy Collins, we will stand up for you in and out of court.
To retain the services of a skilled domestic violence attorney in Orange County, call our defense firm at (844) 807-8180 or submit an online contact form today.
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