Domestic violence charges are serious, and it is important to respond to a domestic violence charge in a way that protects all of your rights.
The first problem is getting out custody, getting out of county jail. in California there are three ways to post bail:
- Through a bail bondsman. If you use a bondsman, you pay a fee to the bondsman. This fee is non-refundable. The bondsman then posts bail and takes care of the paperwork for you.
- Through a cash bail. Cash bail is when you have enough cash, $10,000 for example, and take it to the Sheriff’s office to bail the person out of jail. After the case is over with you get all your money back.
- Through a property bond. Property bond bail is when you put up your house or some other real estate as bail.
A risk with cash bail or property bond bail is that if the person charged, the defendant, fails to show up for court, you could lose all the cash or all the property you put up as bail.
Many times, when someone is arrested for domestic violence they become subject to an Emergency Protective Order (EPRO). This is a court order.
If a person who is the subject of an EPRO bails out of jail, they must comply with the EPRO. Often the EPRO says you must stay away from the other person and have no contact with them. But an Emergency Protective Order only lasts for five court days or seven calendar days.
After bailing out of jail, the accused person will get some paperwork. That paperwork will include the accused person's next court date. It is important to not forget the court date.
If you forget about your court date and fail to show up to court, a warrant could go out for your arrest and then you could go back to jail. Plus, if you posted cash or property bond bail, you could lose the cash or the property that was posted as bail.
There are two general types of Criminal Protective Orders (CPOs):
- "No Contact" orders: a CPO that requires a defendant to stay away from, and to have no contact with, a protected person.
- "Peaceful Contact" orders: a CPO that permits contact between the defendant and the protected person, but only if the contact is peaceful in every way.
A judge may modify or add restrictions to a CPO in order to address specific issues in a particular case.
The judge will decide whether or not to issue a Criminal Protective Order when a defendant first appears in court for a domestic violence charge. At that time, the protected person has the opportunity to provide input regarding the issuance of the CPO. The defendant is given a copy of the CPO while in court.
Do you hire an attorney? Do you represent yourself? Whatever else you do, you should get an attorney.
These cases are tricky. For example, there could be immigration consequences. You could lose your right to legally own or possess a firearm.
If you cannot afford an attorney, inquire about getting a public defender. In Santa Clara County, California, for example, the attorneys in the public defender’s office are excellent. But public defenders typically only represent the indigent.
If you are going to hire an attorney, hire the best local criminal defense attorney you can get.
- Get a lawyer who only practices criminal law and get one who is very experienced.
- If you do not speak English that well, try to get an attorney who speaks your primary language fluently.