Same-Sex Domestic Violence

Are you in a same-sex relationship facing accusations of Domestic Violence? You should immediately consult with a criminal attorney otherwise you risk going to jail and being prosecuted. Police departments in Los Angeles have a required arrest policy when called to a residence for Domestic Violence. You should make no statements to the police or your accuser without an attorney present. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a criminal prosecution. Call our office to arrange a no-cost consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney before speaking to the police.

Gay Domestic Violence

Research indicates the incidence and seriousness of same-sex domestic violence is equal among heterosexual and gay couples. California Domestic Violence laws make no distinction between heterosexual and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) couples and families. Same-sex domestic violence is physical violence, threatened violence and abuse among:

  • Domestic Partners
  • Cohabiting LGBT couples
  • Individuals who have a child or children in common
  • Individuals who are or were dating
  • Persons who were former domestic partners

Domestic Violence covers a wide range of abuse, including domestic partner abuse and child endangerment. Even if the defendant did not intend to hurt or endanger the victim, it can result in Domestic Violence prosecution. A skilled and experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney from our office can help defend you if you have been charged with Domestic Violence.

Domestic Violence Law & Same-Sex Couples

In California, Domestic Violence cases get special treatment, regardless of the sexual orientation of the defendant and victim. Designated prosecutors and special Domestic Violence Units (DV Units) within the prosecutor's (District Attorney or City Attorney) office aggressively prosecute all Domestic Violence cases. Examples of behavior that can result in Domestic Violence charges include:

  • Physical abuse/assault (e.g. punching, biting, slapping, kicking, pushing, restraining)
  • Sexual abuse
  • Threats and other verbal abuse
  • Intimidation
  • Irritating and harassing phone calls
  • Stalking (e.g., harassing, intimidating, unwanted contact)
  • Vandalism

Misdemeanor or Felony

In Los Angeles, Domestic Violence cases can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies under California Penal Code section 273.5 (Inflicting Corporal Injury on Spouse or Cohabitant) or misdemeanors under California Penal Code section 243(e)(1) (Domestic Battery). How the prosecutor files the charges depends on the seriousness of the victim's injuries and the criminal history of the aggressor (defendant). Domestic Violence in which a weapon was used, or that results in serious cuts or broken bones, is usually charged as a felony.

If the victim is not injured, or only slightly injured, the prosecutor may charge the defendant with a misdemeanor. A defendant with a significant criminal history (particularly domestic violence or violent crime) is more likely to be charged with felony Domestic Violence. The biggest difference between a misdemeanor and a felony lies in the potential jail sentence. A misdemeanor is punishable by up to a year in county jail while a felony carries a state prison sentence of up to four years (five years if the defendant has a prior conviction).

Penalties and Sentencing

Misdemeanor Domestic Abuse penalties can include any of all of the following:

  • County jail sentence (up to one year)
  • Counseling / Anger Management(52 weeks)
  • Community service or Community Labor
  • Fines
  • Restraining orders and Protective orders, including: "Stay-Away Order," "Criminal Protective Order," "No Contact Order, "No Harm, No Strike Order," or "Do Not Annoy, Molest, or Harass Order"
  • Firearm restrictions (10 years)

Felony Domestic Abuse penalties can include any or all of the following:

  • State prison sentence (two to four years)
  • Counseling (52 weeks)
  • Community service or CalTrans (40 hours)
  • Fines
  • Restraining Orders and Protective Orders, including: "Stay-Away Order," "Criminal Protective Order," "No Contact Order, "No -Harm, No Strike Order" or "Do Not Annoy, Molest, or Harass Order"
  • Firearm restrictions (for life)
  • If you are not a United States citizen a conviction for Domestic Violence could affect your immigration status and lead to deportation

Can a Victim Drop the Charges

One of the biggest misconceptions in criminal law, especially in Domestic Violence cases, is that the alleged victim can easily drop the charges. This could not be further from the truth especially in California. The victim in a Domestic Violence case essentially becomes a witness in a prosecution by the government (or state of California) against the defendant (accused). The prosecutor is the only person who can drop or reduce the charges and getting the prosecutor to do just that is a major challenge. The prosecutor's interest is to protect the victim and the community from the defendant. The District Attorney or City Attorney will generally move forward with the criminal case even if the victim is not desirous of prosecution. In some rare cases Domestic Violence charges are dismissed. That is why it is important to hire a criminal defense attorney who can effectively assist you with this matter.

Los Angeles Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys

Same sex domestic violence matters are complicated and delicate. Law enforcement and prosecutors are not regularly sensitive to the intricacies and complexities of the circumstances surrounding same-sex domestic violence scenarios. An attorney who is skilled and knowledgeable in defending Domestic Violence cases is key to the best possible outcome. An experienced Domestic Violence attorney may be able to reduce the charges or get them dismissed altogether. He can negotiate jail alternatives, such as counseling, community service and probation.

Following the legal advice of well-meaning friends or family members can backfire. If you are being investigated for Domestic Violence, or have been charged, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our firm right away for a confidential consultation. We have achieved favorable results in these types of scenarios and we will do our best to provide the best legal defense and protect your interests.

If you are in a dangerous relationship and need protection, please contact us immediately. We can assist you with a Restraining Order.