Prosecuting domestic violence is a top priority for Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley. The District Attorney typically prosecutes domestic violence under Penal Code section 243(e) or Penal Code section 273.5(a). An experienced Santa Barbara domestic violence lawyer can help you negotiate a resolution to your case that allows you to move forward with your life. Or, if you are wrongly charged with domestic violence, can help restore your life and reunite your family.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is abuse or threats of abuse when the person being abused and the abuser are or have been in an intimate relationship (married or domestic partners, are dating or used to date, live or lived together, or have a child together). It is also when the abused person and the abusive person are closely related by blood or by marriage.
Santa Barbara Domestic Violence Arrests
Local law enforcement takes a risk by leaving domestic violence calls without making an arrest. If a violent incident occurs after they leave, they will be blamed for failing to protect the victim. As a result, Santa Barbara law enforcement will often make an arrest if there is any probable cause to believe domestic violence occurred.
Emergency Protective Orders
A domestic violence arrest can immediately impact the family unity. Law enforcement can request an Emergency Protective Order (EPO) ordering the defendant to stay away from the victim and victim’s residence. The Judge, who determines whether to grant the EPO, can issue an EPO even if the victim does not want one. If the EPO is granted, the defendant may have to move out of the family home and have no contact with the victim or other protected family members.
An EPO typically expires at the defendant’s first court date. A that hearing, the Santa Barbara District Attorney almost always asks for a Criminal Protective Order (CPO). The CPO, like the EPO, requires the Defendant to have no contact, or only peaceful contact with the victim.
In order to avoid a CPO, the victim should be present in court and prepared to discuss why the defendant is not a danger to them. Additionally, enrollment in anger management or domestic violence classes can persuade the Judge to deny the protective order.
Violation of Protective Order
Charges of violating a protective order are common in domestic violence cases. Violating a protective order can be charged under several criminal statutes, including Penal Code sections 166, and 273.6, Often defendants do not understand that “No Contact” means having absolutely no contact with the victim, directly or through another person or device. Even responding to messages from the victim or answering the victim’s phone call can result in charges.
In addition to resulting in new charges, violating a protective order can be detrimental to your original case. Violating a court order signals to the Judge and District Attorney that you are unwilling to abide by court orders. The ability to comply with court orders is critical to receiving probation instead of custody time. Thus, a failure to comply with court orders reduces the likelihood of being granted probation.
No Contact vs. No MATH Protective Orders
MATH is an acronym for Molest Annoy Threaten or Harass. A “No MATH” order allows for peaceful contact between the defendant and the victim. By contrast, a “No Contact” order does not allow for any contact between the victim and the defendant whatsoever.
Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic Violence is punishable under Penal Code section 243(e)(1). If the abuse causes a traumatic injury, it is punishable as a felony under Penal Code section 273.5. It is also illegal to threaten harm (Penal Code section 422), or follow or harass (Penal Code section 646.9).