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me-too-movement-explained-300x200In 2006, a sexual abuse survivor named Tarana Burke launched a grassroots movement to help give other survivors a voice and a sense of community, as well as to raise awareness to prevent future incidents of sexual violence. To create a sense of solidarity, she aptly named her initiative the “Me Too” movement.

Eleven years later, the #MeToo movement was suddenly thrust into the international conversation when the New York Times published an article alleging a longtime pattern of sexual abuse by movie mogul Harvey Weinstein. As the #MeToo hashtag went viral across social media, millions of victimized women found a fresh sense of empowerment, and millions of the rest of us were dismayed to discover just how many of our sisters, wives, and friends had quietly endured various forms of sexual harassment and abuse over the years.

As more allegations came to light and more high-profile public figures went down in disgrace (over 200 by the last count), it became clear that this movement would spearhead a cultural shift—not just regarding incidents of overt sexual abuse and harassment in the workplace and otherwise, but also redefining what was considered appropriate behavior and conversation, particularly in the workplace. While many celebrated the shift as ushering in a long-overdue era of female empowerment, others were left in a state of confusion as seemingly innocent flirtations and the occasional off-color joke, once assumed to be harmless, were now looked upon as offensive. Many began second-guessing their every interaction with the opposite sex and grappling to figure out what was acceptable in the “new normal.” Still others feared the movement might swing the pendulum too far in the opposite direction, endangering the careers of innocent individuals on the power of unsubstantiated testimonies and creating the assumption of guilt until innocence was proven.

1-20-2020-V-cautionary-stories-300x267Some of life’s most important lessons can be gained within the stories of others—including how to view issues like domestic violence. Now that we’ve closed the door on the 2010s, we’re spotlighting some of the decade’s most notable stories of domestic violence to see what truths we can glean from them. If you are currently facing possible DV charges, let’s take a closer look at the following real-life stories from the past ten years.

Knocked Unconscious, then Scalded

As one of the more gruesome examples of DV this decade, in 2016, Suzanne Thomas of Nottingham, England suffered severe burns to 27 percent of her body after her ex-boyfriend, Jason McLean, poured boiling water over her. Their relationship began innocently enough, and six months later, Thomas invited McLean to live with her. Over time, however, the couple began to argue more frequently, their exchanges becoming more heated. Things came to a head when McLean shoved Thomas’ head against a wall, after which he apologized and promised never to do that again. However, the emotional damage had been done, and Thomas found herself living in fear of his hair-trigger temper.

DV-consequencesThe State of California takes domestic violence charges very seriously, and legislators have crafted a broad set of laws to protect potential victims. However, if you’ve recently been accused, arrested or charged with domestic violence, your thoughts probably won’t be on the technicalities of the law, but on what happens next. What can you expect in the wake of domestic abuse allegations, and just as importantly, what are the penalties if you are convicted?

You can brush up on the specific California laws dealing with domestic violence here if you wish, but for now, let’s dig more deeply into the potential legal consequences of breaking those laws—what you can expect, and what (if anything) you can do to defend your innocence if wrongly accused?

Felony or Misdemeanor?

DV-breaking-the-family-cycle-300x169

Broken chain, top view.

As human beings, we are connected in ways we don’t always realize—especially within our family units. We like to tell ourselves that we alone pay the price for our mistakes, but those mistakes can potentially make a deep impact on the people we love. To give an uncomfortable example, a growing body of research strongly suggests domestic violence can be passed down generationally. In other words, children who are exposed to domestic violence have an increased likelihood of repeating the pattern in adulthood.

The Urban Child Institute summarizes the issue plainly. “Children who witness domestic violence grow up to have a greater risk of living in violent relationships themselves, whether as victims or as perpetrators,” they say. “Without more awareness of this problem and help for these families, the burden of domestic violence will continue to be passed from one generation to the next.”

understanding-DV-arrest-300x300If we were to classify domestic violence as an illness, by all standards it would be an epidemic. Statistics show that 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 9 men, becomes a victim of DV at some point in life—affecting as many as 10 million Americans each year.

What isn’t always clear is: Why?

Any act of domestic violence, no matter how “minor” it seems in the moment, can wreak great havoc in your life. Just one occurrence can fracture your relationships and potentially take your freedom. Understanding why it occurs can be a key to preventing it. If you can identify the driving factors or triggers behind your behavior, you have a better chance of addressing it so domestic violence doesn’t occur—or doesn’t occur again. So let’s explore some of the most common factors experts have identified as driving forces behind DV.

rebuilding-after-DV-chargeBeing accused, arrested and/or charged with domestic violence can be a highly disruptive moment in your life, to say the least. Any allegation of domestic violence can cause a rift in your family and close relationships, not to mention the stress that comes with arrest and the fear of what comes next.

However, a domestic violence charge can do much more than cause immediate stress to you and your family; it can have a ripple effect with far-reaching implications for many other parts of your life, some of which have nothing to do with whatever altercation may have prompted the accusation. Let’s discuss a few of these sometimes-surprising effects and talk about what you can do to address them.

Effects on Career/Finances

second_chance-after-DUI-300x171Between the embarrassment, the stigma and the uncertainty, a DUI arrest can be a traumatic experience in and of itself. The following days and weeks may offer little relief as you face the prospect of jail time, fines and license suspension—not to mention possibly jeopardizing your job if you can’t get to work.

If you’re facing this kind of situation in the wake of a DUI arrest, however, the real question isn’t what will happen if you’re convicted, but what happens after your case is closed. Regardless of whether you’re convicted or how severe the penalties, the DUI arrest is a moment in your life, and at some point it will be behind you. The question is whether you will find yourself in this situation again, or whether you will let it be a teaching moment. As a point of inspiration and encouragement, we’ve hunted down a few real-life stories of people who allowed their DUI arrest to become a turning point in their lives.

Second Time’s a Charm

wet-recklessIf you’ve ever been arrested for DUI, or if you know someone who has, you have possibly heard the term “wet reckless” thrown around. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the prosecution may offer to allow a DUI defendant to plead guilty to “wet reckless” as a reduced charge. If you are offered this kind of plea deal and agree to the terms, accepting it can provide you more leniency compared to a DUI conviction, but there are still some nuances in the law and some consequences you need to be aware of. Let’s discuss some of the key differences between a “wet reckless” charge and a DUI charge to help defendants make an informed decision in the event of a plea deal.

What Is a “Wet Reckless” Charge?

“Wet reckless” is simply a colloquial term for reducing a DUI charge to a reckless driving charge under California Vehicle Code Section 23103/23103.5 VC, with the additional note on the defendant’s record that alcohol was involved. (Hence the term “wet reckless.”) The unique thing about a wet reckless charge is that it only occurs in a plea deal situation, as a reduction down from DUI. In other words, prosecutors would never charge a defendant initially for “wet reckless driving” because technically it’s the same offense as reckless driving. You’ll only have a “wet reckless” charge on you record if you accept a plea deal in response to a DUI and agree to plead guilty or nolo contendere to the lesser charge.

like-father-like-son-los-angeles-DUIIn June, we celebrate Father’s Day—a day set aside for appreciating what fathers have done for us, the example they set, etc. But like everyone else, fathers have feet of clay, and sometimes they don’t always set the best example. Sometimes our fathers fail us, and sometimes we as fathers fail our children. So let’s explore a rather loaded question: If a father has a proclivity toward repeated DUI offenses, does that mean the children will, as well?

The answers here can be complex because many dynamics are at work in the relationship between parents and children—including genetics, parents’ example and the overall way we are raised. Let’s begin by stating that when we view DUI as a crime, we’d be hard pressed to say that any criminal activity is an inherited trait. Our mistakes are our own, and we can’t blame them on our parents. However, many underlying factors can make people more prone to making bad choices, including the unfortunate decision to get behind the wheel while under the influence. If we understand some of these underlying factors, we may be able to compensate and make better choices. Let’s look at some of these dynamics.

Addiction and Genetics

IID-debate-300x157Over the past several years use of ignition interlock devices (IIDs) has been growing in momentum and popularity as a deterrent to DUI. At the beginning of 2019, California became the 33rd state to expand its IID technology program, requiring the installation of IIDs for repeat DUI offenders and offering IIDs to first-time offenders in exchange for a reduced license suspension. Now, some members of Congress are opening up a debate about whether IIDs should be required in all vehicles, regardless of a driver’s history with DUI.

While IIDs do seem to be effective in reducing incidents of DUI, the technology is not without controversy, especially as the government seeks to expand its use. Some see it as a powerful safety feature not unlike the seat belt or the air bag; others view it as an unnecessary invasion of privacy. Let’s take a closer look at the different sides of this debate to see what we can learn.

What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?

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