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California DV Process: Can It Be Stopped?
Facing domestic violence charges is a daunting prospect. Being accused of this crime can have serious consequences on one’s personal and professional life, which is why many individuals in California wonder if it is possible to have their DV case dismissed or expunged from the records.
However, the answer to this question is never as simple as “yes” or “no”. The complexities of the DV legal process are extensive, with the centerpiece being the prosecuting attorney, rather than the alleged victim.
For these reasons, it is imperative to seek professional guidance from an experienced domestic violence lawyer in San Diego, CA, as their expertise in the matter may prove crucial to protecting your rights and ensuring the best possible outcome for your case.
Can a domestic violence case be dismissed in California?
Having domestic violence allegations dismissed is very difficult in California for several reasons:
- The crime is taken extremely seriously by the court and district attorney, leading to strict enforcement of rules and procedures;
- Prosecutors, the police, and the court typically err on the side of caution, rather than risking allowing the abuser back on the streets;
- The vast majority of prosecutors have a “no drop” policy when it comes to DV cases.
With these factors in mind, it might seem that all cards are stacked against the accused. Fortunately, the situation is far from finite, and “being accused” doesn’t equal “being convicted”. While each case is unique, there are indeed situations where dismissal may be possible.
Understanding the grounds for dismissal
A domestic violence case may be dismissed due to:
- Lack of Sufficient Evidence: If the prosecution fails to gather enough evidence to prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, they may choose to drop the case, or the court may choose to dismiss it.
- False Accusations: If it can be demonstrated that the allegations are false or based on misunderstandings, it may lead to the case being dismissed.
- Inconsistent statements: When the witnesses’ or alleged victim’s statements are inconsistent/conflicting, they don’t match the injuries, or change at some point during the process, they’re introducing “reasonable doubt” into the case, making it difficult to prove the charges.
- Constitutional Rights Violations: If evidence was obtained unlawfully, such as through an illegal search and seizure, it may be deemed inadmissible, potentially leading to case dismissal. The same may apply if your constitutional rights were violated in other ways, such as the police not having probable cause for an arrest.
Finally, it must be noted that there are some instances that make allegations different to prove, but they don’t call for an automatic dismissal:
- Lack of visible injuries;
- Lack of independent witnesses.
Even if these two criteria are unmet, the prosecution will typically choose to proceed with the case.
Can you get a DV expunged in California?
Individuals convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence may be eligible for expungement if they successfully completed their probation period, including all court-ordered programs and requirements.
However, do note that this only applies to misdemeanor cases. The court cannot grant an expungement if:
- The defendant is currently on probation for a different offense. However, it is possible to file a motion to terminate probation early, if the plea is based on compelling enough circumstances;
- The defendant is convicted of a felony domestic violence offense. In this instance, they would first need to have charges reduced from felony to misdemeanor, in order to be eligible for expungement;
- The defendant is facing allegations of violent crime against a minor. In these cases, they might face legal restrictions preventing them from expunging the conviction at any stage.
Can a victim drop charges in California?
It is a common misconception that the victim has the power to drop the DV charges. In California, the decision to pursue or dismiss the case lies primarily with the prosecuting attorney, not the victim.
Their decision is based on various factors, including the available evidence, witness statements, and the seriousness of the alleged offense. This means that, while the victim’s input is considered, it is not the sole determining factor for dropping the charges.
Prosecutors may take the victim’s wishes into account, but their primary duty remains to protect the community and uphold the law. Therefore, even if the victim wishes to drop the charges, the prosecution can choose to proceed if they believe there is sufficient evidence to secure a conviction.
Where can I find a reputable domestic violence lawyer in San Diego, CA & near me?
If you or someone you know is facing domestic violence charges, and require expert legal guidance and support, turning to Monder Criminal Lawyer Group is the prime choice. We understand the complexity of DV cases and have years of experience navigating the convoluted waters of San Diego’s justice system.
Our veteran attorneys will work tirelessly to explore options for dismissal, expungement, or other outcomes that will reflect favorably on your future. Reach out to us today and ensure the support of the most aggressive and ethical legal team anywhere from North City to San Ysidro.