Should Victims of Domestic Violence Retain an Attorney?

If you’re a victim of domestic violence, you may need or want professionals to help you through the court system and see justice served to your offender. 

Many victims might think it is easy to represent themselves in a court of law, especially in a domestic violence case, but that is not always true. The right attorney can help in a handful of ways, and you need to have someone you can rely on when dealing with such a situation. California laws are intricate, and you need an attorney who knows the penal codes well to get the solution you need to move forward.

Domestic Violence Penal Code 243(e)(1)

The Penal Code 243(e)(1) is the written law that pertains to Domestic Violence in California. It states:

When a battery is committed against a spouse, a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting, a person who is the parent of the defendant’s child, former spouse, fiancé, or fiancée, or a person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship, the battery is punishable by a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail for a period of not more than one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment. If probation is granted, or the execution or imposition of the sentence is suspended, it shall be a condition thereof that the defendant participate in, for no less than one year, and successfully complete, a batterer’s treatment program, as described in Section 1203.097, or if none is available, another appropriate counseling program designated by the court. However, this provision shall not be construed as requiring a city, a county, or a city and county to provide a new program or higher level of service as contemplated by Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution.

In short, this penal code clarifies that there must be a certain relationship between the victim and the accused. It also states the penalties that result from the crime. A good attorney will know all the particulars of this penal code to aid you in the court process.

How an Attorney Can Help

There are several ways an attorney can help a victim of a domestic abuse case. Before you move forward with any court proceedings, consider a lawyer to help you in these ways:

Restraining Order

Usually, the first step in a case of domestic abuse is to obtain a restraining order. There are several different kinds of restraining orders, and an attorney can help you decide which one would be best for you and your situation. Then the lawyer can help you complete the paperwork and submit it.

Protection from Police

Although police mean well, sometimes they do not know how to approach or question a victim of domestic abuse. This is where a good attorney can lessen the burden of investigative processes on a victim. Attorneys are often trained in ethical approaches that can diminish the pain of re-telling domestic abuse case situations. They act as a middle man between the victim and the police.

Avoid Testifying

Although the victim’s testimony is best, a good attorney can work the case with the district attorney and the evidence in the case. If you prefer not to testify, an attorney will work with the prosecutor to keep you off the stand. It is not a lost cause if you do not testify in court, and an attorney will make that very clear for you.

Drop the Charges

If you find yourself wanting to be done with the process and needing to get out of the court case, an attorney can help you navigate that decision. They have wording and paperwork that will help you drop the charges and move on with your life. Keep this in mind if the process becomes too heavy on you.

Marsy’s Law

Across the country, advocates for victims speak up about how victims are addressed and handled in court. In some states, Marsy’s Law is being added to the state’s constitution to protect crime victims throughout their court processes. 

The law states that crime victims should be given meaningful and enforceable constitutional rights equal to the accused’s rights. These rights include dignity and respect throughout the proceedings, prompt notification of their rights as a victim of a crime, and swift notification of public proceedings throughout the criminal justice process where they can be present and heard during said proceedings. 

This victim advocacy amendment has been beneficial for victims of domestic battery and other crimes, and an experienced criminal attorney will be able to use this law and others to aid you throughout the complicated and stressful court process. 


















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