Accused of Domestic Violence in California? Take These Steps to Prepare
Here are some steps that a person accused of domestic violence in California should take prior to the hearing:
- Understand the charges: The first step is to understand the charges against you. You should know what you are being accused of and what the potential consequences are. You may face criminal charges and/or civil charges in the family law courts of California. If you are served with papers, read them. Keep the papers organized and provide to an attorney if you’re going to use one.
- Contact an attorney: It is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you understand the charges against you and can help you prepare for the hearing. Some attorneys can represent you in both criminal court and in civil court.
- Gather evidence: You should gather any evidence that supports your case. This could include text messages, emails, or other documents that show that you did not commit the crime you are being accused of.
- Prepare for the hearing: You should prepare for the hearing by reviewing the charges against you and the evidence that you have gathered. You should also be prepared to answer questions from the judge. In a Domestic Violence Restraining Order Case (which is not in the Criminal court, but in the civil court) you may be asked questions by your ex’s attorney. You should be prepared to answer questions from them. A lawyer can help you prepare. A good lawyer will rehearse the questions and your answers, prior to the hearing.
- Child Custody: If you have children with your accuser, you need to plan for child custody orders. If your other parent alleges you committed violence against the children you will need to address it. If the other parent alleges you committed violence against the other parent in front of the children you will need to address it. If the other parent alleges you committed violence against them when the children were not present you will need to address it. You will need to have a proposed child custody and parenting schedule in every case in which you have children with the person asking for protection.
- Attend the hearing: You should attend the hearing and be prepared to present your case. in criminal cases you will be appointed a public defender if you cannot afford private representation. In Domestic Violence Restraining Order Cases in Civil (aka Family Law) Court you must hire a private attorney or represent yourself.