Articles Posted in DV Defense Attorney

domestic-violence-mental-illness-300x200The presumed link between mental illness and violence is a hot-button topic these days—and to the chagrin of many mental health professionals, this connection seems to add to the stigma of those who suffer from various types of mental illness. There are likely two reasons why this connection has been made, at least in the arena of public belief. First, we’ve seen numerous high-profile violent crimes in recent years (most notably related to gun violence and/or mass shootings) that have been attributed with people who have been diagnosed with severe mental illness. And second, many acts of violence are so senseless that we naturally begin looking for a reason why they might have occurred. (In other words, when a violent act appears to be insane, we generally blame it on insanity.)

This idea also raises an important question among couples and families: Can mental illness be a contributing factor or trigger mechanism for domestic violence? Put another way, can we blame an act of domestic violence on mental illness? For that matter, if so, could mental illness be used as a successful defense against domestic violence charges? Let’s explore this question in a bit more detail, looking at the latest science and research while unpacking some of the myths surrounding this question.

The Short Answer Is Yes—But It’s Far More Seldom than You Think

remote-learning-domestic-violence-300x200News reports across the board continue to confirm: Domestic violence is on the rise around the world, largely owing to the ongoing pandemic. Between lockdowns and quarantines, more time spent at home, rising unemployment and numerous other triggering factors, many households have become a tinder box for escalating tensions, which sometimes lead to violence.

One of the many possible aggravating factors for increased tensions at home is the fact that the children have now been stuck at home for months—andfor many, this trend shows no signs of ending anytime soon. Despite ongoing pressure from Washington for local schools to open this fall, many communities are choosing either to start the semesters with remote classes or to implement a hybrid model combining in-person and remote learning. In either case, the children will continue to spend more time at home.

This fact is raising concerns among advocacy groups as there is evidence that some children are particularly at risk for increased abuse at home during this time. For some proponents of reopening schools, their main argument for doing so is their concerns for the children at risk from staying at home. Since many of us will be dealing with some form of remote learning in the coming months, let’s explore in more detail how home education may be increasing the risks for domestic violence. More to the point, if you are experiencing increased stress from remote learning that may put your household at risk, let’s talk about some ways you can diffuse the tension and protect your household.

DV-attorney-defense-Los-Angeles-2-300x200For many years, psychologists, healthcare professionals, and researchers alike have been exploring the underlying causes and factors of domestic violence. To that end, the connection between domestic violence and substance abuse has been well-documented. Repeated studies typically report that between 40 and 60 percent of domestic violence cases involve some sort of substance abuse (i.e., alcohol and illicit drugs). The Addiction Center makes an even steeper claim, saying that nearly 80 percent of domestic violence crimes involve drug use—and one study puts the number as high as 92 percent.

But what about prescription drugs? What about medicines that doctors and the general public typically think of as “safe” when taken correctly? Can there be a link between these medications and domestic violence, as well?

As it turns out, a growing body of evidence strongly suggests that even prescription meds and other legal drugs (not including alcohol) can increase the risk of violence in the home. Let’s discuss some of the drugs most commonly associated with DV and explore the connection in a bit more detail.

Los-Angeles-domestic-violence-defense-June-2020-2-300x200If you want a tongue-in-cheek look at how public attitudes about domestic violence have changed over time, take a couple of hours and watch the classic film The Quiet Man (1952), starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. Set in rural Ireland, this John Ford film takes a humorous (but admittedly politically incorrect) look at the volatile dynamic in husband-wife relationships. It’s almost jarring today to see the various ways the characters in the film “wink the eye” at domestic violence in the movie. At one point during the main characters’ courtship, their chaperone quips to O’Hara’s character, Mary Kate: “Have the good manners not to hit the man until he’s your husband and entitled to hit you back.” During the climax of the film, while Wayne’s character Sean Thornton hauls Mary Kate by arm across the Irish countryside with a crowd following, one of the villagers courteously hands Thornton a stick “to beat the lovely lady.”

Perhaps just as telling is Maureen O’Hara’s description of what happened to her behind the scenes while shooting the film. In a noteworthy commentary, O’Hara claims she literally broke her wrist when John Wayne blocked a punch during one scene, and she had to finish the scene in piercing pain. She also claims that during the climactic scene described earlier, her character was supposed to stumble and have Wayne drag her face-first through the dirt—except that Wayne and the director had filled the spot with sheep dung as a “practical joke.”

While these antics (both on and off-screen) would be considered completely inappropriate today, they underscore how much public views of domestic violence have changed across several generations. In truth, domestic violence has been a blight on human culture for many centuries—the main thing that changes is how permissive society is toward it. Looking back just a few decades, it can be surprising to see how much women, in particular, were subjected to in earlier times, and how much they were simply expected to put up with as “the way things were.” Even our grandparents and great-grandparents likely had a different view of domestic violence than we do today. Let’s launch into a deeper look at how earlier generations looked at this issue in Western culture (i.e., Europe and the Americas), both to see how far we’ve come and what we may have yet to learn.

Quarantine-300x200If you ask many people whether there’s a silver lining behind the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, they might tell you that quarantining at home has given them a chance to stop and re-evaluate their priorities, to spend more quality time with family and loved ones, to focus on self-care and self-improvement, or any of a handful of other platitudes. And certainly, for many of us, the stay-at-home orders have given us a chance to recalibrate our lives in some way.

But being quarantined with family isn’t a “silver lining” for everyone. For some households, being cooped up in close quarters can turn toxic—especially if there are unresolved issues involved. For many, things have even turned violent, as demonstrated by a significant spike in the number of domestic violence incidents reported during this time.

What do you do if you were in the second group—the one where quarantining triggered toxic behavior? Perhaps a discussion devolved into an argument and things got out of hand. Maybe you have found yourself arrested and separated from family on an accusation of domestic violence. Where is the “silver lining” in that kind of situation?

Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-2-300x200In 2014, noted female soccer star Hope Solo was arrested and charged with two counts of domestic violence assault charges against her half-sister and 17-year-old nephew. That same year, singer Solange (sister of Beyoncé Knowles) was caught on video violently attacking her brother-in-law Jay-Z.

These stories grab our attention, not just because of the celebrities involved, but because they point out the rare occasions in which we hear about women committing some sort of domestic abuse.

When we think about domestic violence, we typically presume the perpetrator is a man and the victim is a woman. And with good reason: The overwhelming majority of DV cases involve a male perpetrator and a female victim. However, some women can be as violent as men when it comes to their relationships, and some believe the number of women who commit domestic violence is significantly underreported. Let’s take an overview of this often-overlooked issue to see what we can learn.

Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-4-300x213The 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?

Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-5-300x215As 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.”

This phenomenon, commonly called “intergenerational transmission of domestic violence,” extends beyond just a few isolated cases. In just one of many studies on this issue, the results were nothing short of disturbing. In compiling data from 1600 American families, researchers found that four out of five children living with domestically violent partners eventually committed violence against their own partners as adults. Likewise, three-quarters of adult children also became victims.

Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-6-300x200If 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.

Los-Angeles-Domestic-Violence-Defense-7-300x204Being 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.

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