Jamahl Kersey May 10, 2016 No Comments

How Domestic Violence and Abuse Differ

Domestic violence and abuse are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, these crimes differ on factors such as longevity, cause, and context. Additionally, these offenses differ in the manner of which the public views them. The victims of both these offenses suffer greatly in short and long-term consequences; however, below are overviews of these acts of violence and how they differ from one another.

Domestic Violence Overview 

Domestic violence is a violent confrontation between family or household members. Additionally, domestic violence is a very broad offense as this crime affects both people and property.

Types:

Physical

Harm such as biting, hitting, battery with a weapon, and incredibly gruesome offenses such as breaking another’s bones are considered physical forms of domestic violence.

Sexual

Rape, molestation, and unwanted sexual contact are forms of sexual domestic violence. It is important to note that neither gender is excluded when it comes to sexual domestic violence.

Threatening

Instilling the fear of being harmed in a victim is a form of domestic violence. Whether the threat turns physical or not, it is still a crime.

Property Damage

Damaging a family or household member’s property is a form of domestic violence. This fact is perhaps the biggest way in which domestic violence and abuse differentiate.

How this Differs from Abuse:

Domestic violence is different from abuse as a result of being a far broader offense. A victim of domestic violence does not need to be physically or emotionally harmed, but can have their personal belongings damaged or destroyed. Domestic violence can be a long or short-term offense and is most common amongst couples. Domestic violence is a crime most often committed against women.

Abuse Overview 

Abuse is often a long-term offense and is defined as the maltreatment of a person or animal. Males and females of all ages fall victim to abuse every year.

Types:

Physical and Sexual

Like domestic violence, physical abuse is anything that causes physical harm to a victim. Sexual abuse is, of course, the result of any type of unwanted sexual contact.

Financial

Controlling someone’s finances without consent is known as financial abuse. This is a common type of abuse amongst the elderly.

Emotional

Perhaps the most ignored type of abuse is emotional. Making another person feel hopeless, insulting another person, or controlling another person are all types of emotional abuse.

How this Differs from Domestic Violence:

Domestic violence is sometimes a long-term offense, but it can also be a one-time crime. The heat of the moment can result in domestic violence and the offense may never happen again. Of course, that is not always the case and domestic violence is an incredibly serious offense. Abuse, however, is a crime that offenders work up to accomplishing.

Additionally, crimes against children are more commonly referred to as abuse. Very rarely can causing harm to a child constitute heat of the moment occurrences. Spousal or elderly abuse are almost always long-term offenses because the abuser needed to instill a feeling of worthlessness into their victims before having their crime escalate to a more violent offense. Abuse almost always has devastating consequences and requires far more steps than an arrest to stop.

It is conclusive that there are a lot of similarities between domestic violence and abuse. The most distinguishable fact of these two crimes is typically the longevity of the offenses. Both domestic violence and abuse are violent, tragic crimes in which the offender deserves to be punished. Of course, both of these crimes are incredibly serious regardless of their circumstances and require assistance to prevent the offenses from happening again.

For more information on domestic violence, abuse, and further punishable offenses, please contact us today.

Jamahl Kersey May 5, 2016 No Comments

What’s Involved in a Protection Order and How It Can Be Changed or Dropped

People who feel unsafe and threatened from others often get protection orders. In simple terms, a protection order, also called an OP or order of protection, is a legal paper that a judge issues, involving rules, preventing contact between a restrained person and a protected person.

The restrained party is the defendant, while the protected party is the individual who is seeking protection. In many cases, protection orders are waived or modified. Here’s how a protection order can be changed or dropped, along with some other important considerations and warnings.

Types of Protection Orders

The two main kinds of protection orders include no-contact orders and peaceful contact orders.

  • In a no-contact order, a defendant is unable to have any contact at all with the protected person.
  • There’s also a peaceful contact order. This is when a judge makes needed adjustments that address specific conditions. In other words, there may be some form of limited contact.

Getting a Protective Order Modified or Dropped

Victims who are named in protection orders can ask a court to modify or drop a protection order. This entails the removal of some conditions or all of them. Because it’s a complex procedure, it’s best to use a qualified criminal defense lawyer.

Plaintiffs who have asked for the protective order can’t change the terms in a protection order just by giving defendants permission to have contact privileges, again. They must ask for changes by addressing a judge or an Assistant DA (District Attorney.)

They’ll need to explain why they want to make changes to a protection order. Furthermore, they need to state that they have willingly made their decision on their own free will and weren’t coerced into doing so.

After plaintiffs are asked if they’ve discussed their decision with a victim specialist, they need to sign a petition. The court clerk sets up a court hearing, at least 10 days later, in which both parties must attend.

It’s at this hearing that a judge determines whether or not to grant the requested changes. A judge may fully change the protection order, make partial changes or deny modifications.

Is a Protective Order the Same Thing as a Restraining Order?

Many people think a protection order is the same thing as a restraining order, but they’re somewhat different. Both of them are used for restraint purposes.

The main difference is that protection orders entail much more extreme court rulings that are used in preventing family violence and are designed to protect the life, emotional welfare and limb of victims of domestic violence.

How to Protect Yourself and Prevent Problems

If you’re a defendant, you’ll need to protect yourself because violating a protection order can result in new charges being filed against you, besides getting arrested. For example:

  • In addition to avoiding the plaintiff’s place of residence, be sure to stay away from areas where he or she frequently goes, such as a workplace or school.
  • If you’re in a public place, such as a store or restaurant and see the protected party, leave immediately.
  • Avoid any disagreements with friends or family members of the protected person, and never send emails, letters or faxes to this plaintiff.
  • If you receive an email from the plaintiff, hand it over directly to your attorney.
  • If the protected person tries to call you, hang up promptly and inform your lawyer of the call. Don’t even try to patch up differences.

Considerations and Warnings

  • Both the defendant and the plaintiff need to understand that filing a petition doesn’t change an order’s terms.
  • A protective order isn’t a requirement for calling 911. On the other hand, police officers tend to respond faster when callers say that they have a protective order.
  • Protective orders can be increased, as well as decreased.

Being served with a protection order can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to face this problem alone. If you’ve been issued a protection order, call us. Our qualified, experienced criminal defense team serves the greater San Diego area. Please contact us, and let us explain how we can help you.

Jamahl Kersey April 28, 2016 No Comments

What to Do if You Missed a Court Date or Have a Bench Warrant

When you’re scheduled to appear in court–whether it’s for something as minor as a traffic violation that you’re fighting or something as major as a felony charge–it’s imperative that you show up on your court date. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for people to forget about a court date or face extenuating circumstances that prevent them from attending. If this is a situation that you’re currently in, then you might be wondering, “what do I do if I missed a court date or have a bench warrant?

What is a Bench Warrant?

If you’ve already missed your court date, there’s a good chance that the judge as issued what’s known as a bench warrant. When you have a bench warrant, this means that police officers are legally able to arrest you and hold you in jail until you take care of your missed court appearance. A bench warrant is similar to a traditional arrest warrant with the exception that bench warrants are almost explicitly issued as a result of a missed court appearance.

Simply put, if you missed your court date and now have a bench warrant out, the next time you get pulled over or have any other police encounter, there’s a good chance you’ll be going to jail.

Potential Consequences of Missing a Court Date

Nothing good typically comes out of missing a court date. At the very least, you will have a bench warrant issued for your arrest. However, there are a number of other circumstances you could face as a result.

For starters, failure to appear in court can result in the addition of more charges and fines. You may also be required to pay a higher bond or forfeit any bond you posted to get out of jail in the first place. In serious circumstances, your ability to post bond could be revoked entirely and you could be forced to stay in jail until your case in heard in court.

In some states, your driver’s license can even be suspended or revoked upon failing to appear in court.

The Importance of Acting Quickly

If you’ve missed a scheduled court date for any reason, it’s imperative that you act quickly in getting the situation taken care of. Don’t wait until the next time you’re pulled over when you may be on your way to work or even have children in the car. Instead, be proactive in taking care of your bench warrant and the judge will likely be more understanding than if you were to ignore the situation altogether.

In most cases, you can call your local court office and arrange to have the matter taken care of. This may mean scheduling a time to come in a pay your bail so as to avoid being arrested again and have your warrant recalled.

Why Hire an Attorney?

Before you call the court, however, it’s a good idea to begin working with a reputable defense attorney. With the proper legal guidance, you may be able to appear directly at an arrangement as opposed to being arrested on your bench warrant. Furthermore, an experienced attorney may be able to get an arraignment scheduled right away, rather than you having to be arrested and wait for another trial. Of course, this can all vary greatly on a case-to-case basis.

Missing a court date is never beneficial, but what’s done is done. Your next step is being proactive in getting the situation handled properly. For assistance with taking care of your bench warrant for a missed court date, please contact us today. Our hard-working and experienced attorneys are here to help.

Jamahl Kersey April 21, 2016 No Comments

If the Police Stop You on the Street, Do You Have to Talk to Them?

If the police stop you on the street, do you have to talk to them? This is a common question that many people have. There are many reasons as to why a police officer may approach you in public and begin talking to you. In most cases, he or she will be trying to gather information to solve a potential crime or identify a suspect. Rarely will a police officer approach a person to simply make “small talk,” even if it appears that way.

By understanding your rights when stopped in public by a police officer, you can make sure you’re not taken advantage of.

Exercising Your Right to Remain Silent

First and foremost, understand that under the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution, you always have the right to remain silent when speaking to a police officer. You’re never under any obligation to speak to an officer, let alone answer any questions.

Even if you haven’t committed a crime, it’s generally best to exercise your right to remain silent if you’re ever approached and questioned by an officer in public. You can do this by simply responding to the officer’s attempts at conversation with something along the lines of, “I wish to remain silent.” If he or she persists with trying to get you to talk, continue to express your right to remain silent.

What if You’re Asked for Identification?

While it’s true that you’re under no legal obligation to talk to a police officer, there are some cases where you may be legally required to provide identification to him or her. California is one of many states where you don’t need to require ID unless the officer:

  • has detained or arrested you
  • has pulled you over in your vehicle

Therefore, if an officer has randomly approached you in public and asks for identification, your first question should be, “am I being detained or am I free to go?” If you’re being detained (this means the officer has probable cause to believe you’ve committed a crime), then you will be required to show ID. Failure to do so could result in a criminal charge. Still, this doesn’t mean that you’re required to speak with the officer. Let him or her know where your ID is located or ask for permission to reach for it.

Asking for a Lawyer When Being Detained

If it turns out that you are being detained for any reason, again, this still doesn’t legally obligate you to answer any questions or speak with officers. In fact, now would be a good time to ask for a lawyer, since you’re going to be criminally charged and officers/detectives will likely attempt to further question you once they take you to jail for booking.

Even if an officer claims he or she can “cut you a break” if you answer some questions, elect to remain silent and let them know that you won’t speak without an attorney present. In reality, a police officer can’t cut you any breaks, as the charges you face are ultimately in the hands of the prosecutor working on your case–not the arresting officer.

By refusing to speak until an attorney is present, you can be sure that you’ll be well advised and protected when handling your case.

The Bottom Line

The most important thing to remember here is that you are never required to speak to a police officer–even if you’re being detained. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to show ID, but you don’t need to answer any questions. If you’re arrested, always ask for an attorney and don’t answer any questions until one is present.

For further assistance with protecting your rights during police encounters, contact us today.

Jamahl Kersey April 19, 2016 No Comments

What’s Involved in Criminal Defense?

Being accused of a crime is not something to be taken lightly. That’s why most people in this difficult situation, hire a criminal defense attorney. If you’ve been accused in a crime, here’s what is involved in criminal defense, along with the different types and how to choose the best lawyer to represent you.

What is Criminal Defense?

First, let’s define what is meant by “criminal defense.”  Simply put, criminal defense is strategy that tries to dispute the arguments of the prosecution attorney. In other words, it attempts to challenge the adequacy and validity of evidence given by the prosecution party which attempts to prove criminal accusations against an accused person or defendant.

How Criminal Defense Lawyers Help Defendants

Criminal defense attorneys do much more than question witnesses in court. They do everything possible to ensure that their clients are given every protection that’s offered from the state and federal constitutions and laws.

Besides being well-versed in knowing how to use constitutional guarantees for their clients, criminal defense attorneys also gather physical evidence, confessions, statements from witnesses and results from substance abuse tests.

Types of Criminal Defense

One of the main jobs of a criminal defense attorney is determining the type of criminal defense that should be used in a case. There are several types of criminal defense:

  • Affirmative criminal defense is when a criminal lawyer and the defendant are able to produce evidence supporting the defense. It often involves having an alibi witness who can show how it’s cannot be possible that a defendant is guilty of committing the alleged crime.
  • Coercion and duress, which is also an affirmative criminal defense, states that a defendant was forced into committing a crime because of threats involving unlawful forces.
  • Abandonment and withdrawal, or renunciation, is when someone testifies that they had intended to commit a crime or be an accomplice to it, but then changed their mind. Because it’s also considered as an affirmative defense, evidence must be shown, proving that abandonment happened.
  • An insanity defense is one in which a defense attorney acknowledges that a client actually committed the crime, but isn’t responsible for his or her actions because of suffering from a mental disorder. However, using this type of defense comes with risks as it means admitting to a crime and can lead to a jury rejecting the insanity defense.
  • Self-dense, which entails being forced into committing a crime because of self-preservation, is primarily used in homicide or assault charges. For instance, the defendant states that he or she had to assault or even kill a victim because of being attacked first.
  • A statue of limitations defense entails the defense stating that the prosecution has waited too long to charge a defendant, so the charges have to be dropped.

Selecting a Criminal Defense Attorney

When choosing a criminal defense attorney:

  • Decide which qualities are the most important ones for your case.
  • Check for good communication skills.
  • Ask about cases they’ve won or lost.
  • Inquire about their negotiating abilities and the specific types of crimes they’ve handled.
  • Be cautious of any criminal defense attorney who promises guaranteed results. A good lawyer should be straightforward and realistic, regarding what’s likely to occur.
  • Always meet any attorney you’re considering, and don’t fall for advertising catchphrases, such as “aggressive lawyer.” 
  • If you’ve already consulted an attorney, but don’t have a good feeling about using him or her, you can always change your mind and hire someone else. 

Considerations and Warnings

  • If you and your attorney use an abandonment and withdrawal defense, the police must have been notified before the crime occurred. Otherwise, it won’t work.
  • People who are unable to afford a criminal defense lawyer and are facing criminal offense that could lead to a jail term can have a public defender represent them.
  • A defendant using an intoxication defense may work in certain situations, but it usually doesn’t clear a defendant of most types of crimes.
  • Provide your attorney with as much information as possible when you have your first consultation.

As our criminal justice system isn’t devised for accused people to represent themselves, it’s much wiser to hire an experienced, well-qualified defense attorney. If you need an experienced, highly-trained and knowledgeable defense attorney to represent you, please contact us.