Domestic Violence and Spousal Abuse

A domestic abuse, or violence, charge can affect your employment, your family, and the rest of your life. The Law Office of Joan Stephens provides aggressive criminal defense to clients who are facing domestic violence arrest. Our goal is to have your charges dropped or reduced. We recognize that every case is different, and we help you understand the domestic violence crime while providing you a vigorous defense. As a criminal defense attorney I can assist you with a variety of domestic violence charges, including but not limited to:

  • Assault and Battery
  • Kidnapping and false imprisionment
  • Harassment
  • Restraining order violations
  • Stalking and terroristic threats
  • Defamation

The Law Office of Joan Stephens provides the experience and knowledge needed to assist you through a Domestic Violence & Spousal Abuse case. Ms. Stephens has handled many cases arising out of Domestic Violence & Spousal Abuse. We take pride in doing more than just negotiating a plea for you. We always listen to your side of the story. When appropriate, we interview witnesses in your case and present a defense. We are always available for a free consultation.

According to California law, domestic violence (sometimes called domestic abuse or intimate partner abuse) means causing or attempting to cause bodily injury, and/or sexual assault against a spouse, a former spouse, a person you are dating, a person with whom you are living, a person with whom you used to live and/or a person with whom you had a child. Domestic violence can involve physical abuse, or domestic violence can occur during a domestic dispute merely by threatening words (verbal abuse or verbal assault).

The legal definition of an "intimate partner" for purposes of domestic violence includes husbands or wives, boyfriends or girlfriends, and same-sex partners. Therefore, any intimate partner, no matter the sex, can be a victim of domestic abuse. The law is very broad in terms of how the relationship giving rise to domestic violence is defined.

"Abuse" is likewise legally defined in very broad terms. Each of the following actions, among others, can lead to prosecution for domestic violence or intimate partner violence: hitting, slapping, punching, kicking, threatening with a weapon, threatening without a weapon, hitting with an object, hair pulling, burning, cutting, biting, stabbing and stalking. No matter how slight the physical touching was, the perpatrator of the action can be prosecuted. Some types of domestic violence charges do not even require any physical touching, such as stalking or terroristic threats (Penal Code section 422).

Your intimate partner does not decide whether or not to press charges in a domestic violence case in California. Once the police are involved in the domestic violence situation, you and your intimate partner no longer have the choice of whether or not to prosecute. The decision of whether or not to file criminal abuse charges in a domestic violence case is up to the prosecutor alone. He or she will decide whether or not to bring the domestic violence charge. It is incorrect (and dangerous) to believe that the domestic violence victim has the power to press charges or not; once law enforcement is involved, it is out of their hands.