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Los-Angeles-domestic-violence-attorney-300x200Given both the increase and the heightened awareness of domestic violence cases since the 2020s began, it’s important once in a while to look at the news stories talking about domestic violence to see both what we can learn and how we can improve the situation for families at risk. We’re reviewing news stories both about general trends and specific instances of domestic violence to see what takeaways we find. Let’s continue that process now.

Brooklyn Woman Executes Her Former Girlfriend After Long, Volatile Relationship

In April of this year, the New York Post reports that a Brooklyn woman turned herself in to police, confessing that she had shot and killed her former girlfriend execution-style after a volatile 20-year relationship. According to prosecutors, police had responded to a total of 14 domestic violence calls over the past two decades, 10 of which had indicated the shooter as the “aggressor.” The shooter’s sister claimed that her sister was mentally disabled and had tried to distance herself from the victim but that the victim “kept coming back.” She said her sister had pulled the trigger because “enough was enough.”

domestic-violence-accuser-and-accused-300x200Being arrested on suspicion of domestic violence can be highly disruptive to your life—and of course, being the victim of domestic violence is nothing short of traumatic. But what happens when you are both a victim of domestic violence and the person accused of it—at the same time? What if the alleged victim and the defendant are one and the same person—and that person is you?

It doesn’t happen that often—but it does happen. When domestic violence occurs, we typically assume there is one perpetrator and one victim. One person gets hurt, the other one gets arrested and charged. In the majority of DV cases, this assumption holds true—but on occasion, someone who has been attacked in a domestic violence dispute may actually be arrested and possibly charged as a perpetrator. Let’s talk about the complexities of these types of cases, the circumstances in which they may occur, and what you can do about it if you find yourself in this undesirable situation.

How Can Domestic Violence Victims Also Be Charged?

Domestic-violence-defense-LA1-200x300Consider the following scenario. You recently had a disagreement with your significant other. Heated words were exchanged. You said some things in the heat of the moment that you later regretted. Perhaps you left and spent the next few days elsewhere, but you called to continue the argument, and again you exchanged heated words. Not long after, there’s a knock at your door. The cops arrest you on a complaint of domestic violence. You’re in utter disbelief. “I don’t understand. I never laid a hand on her!” you tell the police—and later, your lawyer.

Perhaps you are telling the absolute truth; you didn’t lay a hand on her. Did she make up a story to get you in trouble? Possibly. But it’s also possible that in that exchange, you actually broke the law without realizing it.

California’s domestic violence laws are designed to provide extensive legal protections for victims, and therefore, they categorize a wide range of actions as domestic violence—even things that don’t involve any physical contact with your spouse, partner, or family member.

DV-in-BIPOC-community-300x200On October 19, activists held a rally in Leimert Park in South Los Angeles to raise awareness of the prevalence of domestic violence among the BIPOC community (Black, Indigenous and People of Color). The event, hosted by a partnership of Black justice organizations collectively known as #Standing4BlackGirls, coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, recognized every October for decades.

While domestic violence respects no color and can impact people of every ethnicity, it has been widely documented that the BIPOC community seems to be affected disproportionately compared to whites, especially in America. Extensive research has been done to explore the reasons for this, and while some answers are easy to document, other explanations remain elusive or speculative. Let’s discuss this question in a bit more detail to see what we can learn.

Breaking Down the Numbers

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

covid-domestic-abuse-300x200Quite often, domestic violence is framed either in the sterile context of criminology and statistics or in the raw context of our own emotions. The reality lies somewhere between these extremes. If we look past the crime itself, past the numbers, and past our own offense, we can see that domestic violence occurs in real families with actual people and complex emotions—people who often don’t even understand what triggers their behavior. For many households, the quarantines and lockdowns prompted by COVID-19 are making these triggers even more sensitive, prompting an increase in the rate of domestic violence across the globe.

We’ve already talked about some of the numbers and factors behind this increase in DV during the pandemic. Now, let’s talk about the human factor—the increased pressures caused by this situation which may serve as triggers, and how families can respond to reduce the risk and perhaps prevent outbreaks of domestic violence in the home.

Common Triggers of Domestic Violence During Lockdown

Los-Angeles-DUI-attorney-2-300x200In 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

Los-Angeles-DUI-attorney-4-300x200Driving under the influence can lead to some strange occurrences—none of them working in the driver’s favor. At the time of this writing, we’re only three-and-a-half months into 2019, and already we’re hearing reports of DUI cases ranging from the ironic to the unbelievable. Let’s explore a few of the most bizarre DUI stories of the year to date, and see what we can take away from them.

Sunk Until Spring

In early March, witnesses say a 37-year-old man from Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, drove his vehicle twice off a boat launch onto a frozen lake. On the second time, the vehicle broke through the ice and sank. Law enforcement arrived on the scene to see the man walking off the frozen lake in wet clothes while his vehicle disappeared under the surface. The man, John W. Hamilton, was arrested on suspicion of DUI. He claimed he was alone in the car when the ice broke, officials tested the site via sonar to verify that no one else was stuck in the car. Deputies estimated the vehicle was on the lake floor 17 feet below. Not only does Hamilton face DUI charges, but his vehicle will likely not be retrieved until later in the spring when the ice has melted.

Los-Angeles-DUI-attorney-6-200x300From gorgeous harbors and miles of coastline to hundreds of lakes, reservoirs and waterways, there are plenty of places in California to enjoy time out on a boat. But if you think operating a boat exempts you from California DUI laws, think again. Last spring, Dean Allen Payne came face to face with the full force of California law after running his boat over two ladies in innertubes, seriously injuring both of them. After being convicted operating the boat while intoxicated, Payne was sentenced to 12 years in state prison.

While DUI boating laws differ only slightly from those covering automobiles on the road, the consequences of breaking them can be no less severe. If you operate a boat and choose to indulge, here’s what you need to know about boating and DUI.

Boating Under the Influence: An Overview

Los-Angeles-DUI-attorney-7-300x200It’s not how you envisioned kicking off the New Year. Perhaps you’ve made resolutions; perhaps you’ve set goals. You were looking forward to the prospects of a new year with new possibilities. Certainly, kicking off 2019 with a Los Angeles DUI arrest was not on the agenda. Now you are facing potential charges that could spoil your momentum and derail all your plans for the year. What do you do now, and what steps can you take to get your year back on track?

First, regardless of the specific circumstances of your case, realize that you’re not the only person in this situation. The holiday season of 2018 in general, and New Year’s Eve in particular, has been record-setting for DUI arrests in California. Consider the following:

• Over the Christmas weekend 2018, California law enforcement officers made more than 1100 DUI arrests. That’s nearly 200 more than the 917 arrests made during the same time in 2017.

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