A domestic violence arrest can result in serious repercussions for everyone involved; it is not uncommon for entire families to be ripped apart as a result of an arrest, even if the defendant is found “not guilty.” No matter what part of California you were arrested in, if the prosecutors have decided to file criminal charges against you, you will likely be ordered to appear at arraignment as part of your overall process.
In most cases, there is no equally effective alternative to hiring a skilled domestic violence lawyer to represent you. An experienced attorney will be able to call the validity of abuse allegations into question and take multiple steps to put their clients in better positions to obtain successful case outcomes.
Regardless, knowing what to expect during a California domestic violence court process could have a substantial impact on your case. The following are the more important aspects, but it would be wise to speak with your attorney about the process directly to obtain advice that is specific to your individual case.
What Is The Arraignment?
More often than not, those who are charged with committing California domestic abuse mistakenly believe that the arraignment is where guilt and innocence are determined, but this is not the case. Although defendants do enter a “plea” at this hearing, whether you would like to plea “guilty”, “not guilty”, or “no contest”, is the only information that the courts will be happy to hear. Your explanations and/or how the incident occurred are details that the court is not interested in hearing at the time of your arraignment.
What Happens During An Arraignment?
There are certain aspects of a domestic abuse arraignment that stay consistent for the vast majority of cases in California. The following are things that you can expect to happen if you attend the hearing yourself:
1. The courts will advise you of your Constitutional Rights and take steps to confirm that you understand them.
2. You will be advised as to the specific crimes for which you are being charged. Common California domestic violence violations include Penal Code 273.5, Penal Code 243, and Penal Code 273D.
3. You will have an opportunity to enter a plea. Your plea can either be “not guilty”, “guilty”, or “no contest”.
4. Details about your bail will be determined. The amount that will be required from the defendant for bail largely depends upon two factors: is the defendant a danger to society and whether or not the defendant will return after they post bail. An experienced domestic violence attorney can argue on your behalf to have your bail amount decreased, establish that you are not a danger to society and that you have ties to the community. Without an attorney, it may be substantially more difficult to convince the judge that the above is true.
5. Your protective order that is currently in place can be reevaluated. On the night that you were arrested, a temporary restraining order was put in place to help ensure the safety of everyone involved. The order usually will last until your first court date. Your arraignment will likely be an opportunity for you to have a different order put in place.
Should I Worry About Protective Orders?
Yes. Few domestic abuse defendants are aware that their arraignment is an opportunity to have their protective order changed. Most protective orders restrict the defendant from staying in their own home immediately after their arrest. It can become very costly and stressful to be taken out of the home and not immediately allowed to return. Oftentimes defendants are left without a change of clothes and/or important items. They can be escorted back by police officers, but if there is any dispute over which items are the defendants, the items in question cannot be taken.
If you were arrested today and next Monday is your court date, your lawyer can argue that things blew over, that your kids miss you, and that the alleged victim has agreed to peaceful contact. If the judge is willing, you can then go back home.
If a restricting protective order stays in place, it could last a very long time. Since many protective orders make it illegal for the defendant to communicate with the alleged victim, it can be especially difficult to put yourself in a position to have your protective order changed at your domestic violence arraignment. In order for your attorney to convince the courts that peaceful contact is possible, you will need to have certain assurances from the alleged victim.
In most cases of restricting protective orders, the defendant’s attorney is the only legal means for the defendant to communicate with their alleged victim.
Do I Have to Attend My Domestic Violence Arraignment?
In most cases, whether or not you will be required to attend your hearing will be based on whether your domestic violence incident was charged as a felony or misdemeanor offense. Some violations are known as “wobblers,” which means that prosecutors can file them as misdemeanor or felony cases, usually depending upon the case circumstances.
For most, the courts will allow a misdemeanor offender to have their attorney appear at their domestic violence arraignment on their behalf, while a felony offense almost always requires the defendant to attend personally.
If you are wondering whether you should show up at all for your hearing, JUST GO. You can expect things to get substantially worse if you ignore the court process.
Orange County Domestic Abuse Defense
In need of skilled representation? Let our experienced domestic abuse attorneys in Orange County provide you with a free case evaluation to help you better understand the charges brought against you. With a skilled attorney by your side, you can find out for yourself why hiring an attorney is one of the best decisions a person can make to defend their rights in a court of law.
Call today to speak with one of our legal professionals about your case.