Being accused or charged of a domestic violence crime can be frightening and confusing. We understand you have questions about California’s domestic violence laws, so in this post, we’ll address several of the most common questions we hear on a regular basis:Q: What happens during booking?
Q: What happens during booking?
A. The booking process is an unavoidable part of being arrested. Your name and alleged crime will be recorded, your “mug shot” photo will be taken, your clothing and personal property will be taken into police custody, you will be searched for weapons or other “contraband” items, you will be fingerprinted, and you will likely be asked routine questions (but not interrogated.)
Q. What about bail? Is there a chance the judge will reduce it or waive it altogether?
A. Bail is set by a schedule in each county in California, but you will have the opportunity in court to request a reduction in bail or a bail review hearing. When reviewing your request, the judge will consider the seriousness of the crime you were charged with, your previous criminal record, whether you have previously failed to appear in court for any offense, your ties to your community, and the probability that the judge thinks you will appear in court.
Q. My spouse/partner was facing arrest for domestic violence assault. Can I drop the charges?
A. It’s actually up to the district attorney whether or not to drop the charges (and they usually will not do so.) Even if the alleged victim wants to recant, you could still be convicted of the crime. You should never try to convince the alleged victim to drop charges, as this could negatively impact your case in court.
Q. Can someone be prosecuted for domestic violence even if the alleged victim refuses to testify at trial?
A. California CCP 1219 protects an alleged victim from having to testify; she or he can refuse to testify and cannot be jailed for doing so. If the alleged victim refuses to testify, the prosecution’s case will be weakened significantly; they may have no evidence and may be forced to drop the charges.
Q. What do I do if I missed a court date or have a “bench warrant” out against me?
A. Missing a court date is a serious offense; if you fail to show up for court, the court will issue a “bench warrant” for your arrest. If a bench warrant has been issued, any contact with the police, for any reason, can result in you being immediately arrested. If you did miss a court date, it may not be too late to fix it! Talk to your attorney to find out about getting a new court date or getting your bench warrant quashed. Doing nothing means you will always be looking over your shoulder and will face serious additional charges and penalties for failing to appear.
Q. Can a protection order be dropped? If so, what is the process?
A. Yes, an alleged victim can choose to drop a restraining (protection) order by obtaining forms, completing them and filing them with the clerk of courts. There is no cost to change or drop a protection order. If you were the restrained person, the person dropping the charges must formally “serve” you by having copies of the papers hand-delivered to you, and served by mail to your attorney, at least 16 court days before the court hearing.
Q. Should I be worried about how pending criminal charges might affect my job?
A. If you have been convicted of a crime, California employers can access the records of the conviction and may consider certain convictions within seven years. If you have been arrested and are pending trial, employers can also ask about that and factor that into employment decisions, since the trial may result in a conviction. However, employers following best practices under federal laws should only investigate whether a conviction is directly related to the job in question.
Do you have a question that wasn’t addressed here? Contact us today.