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COVID-19 Self-Isolation & an Uptick in Domestic Violence

The rate of domestic violence goes up whenever families spend more time together, such as during Christmas, holidays, and summer vacations. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused great social pressure, fear, and economic stress for most Americans. And it’s lead to a national lock-down. New and challenging to us all, many are adjusting to this life at home by bonding with family and making the best of an unprecedented health crisis. But many others are experiencing volatility, discord, and domestic stress within their home.

Both globally and here in the United States, there is a sharp rise in domestic violence reports. Trapped in the confines of the home – especially where there’s a history of discord - with no escape, conflicts get bigger and more frequent. Domestic partners, spouses, parents, and children alike are at risk due to the heightened tension and unfortunate circumstances that may readily escalate to violence. The financial stress alone creates a ticking time bomb for some families with a history of violence.

In March, reports of domestic violence increased by an average of 20% in many cities around the nation. This uptick inevitably will result in misdemeanor and felony investigations and prosecutions depending on severity and presence of injuries.

Nonetheless, COVID-19 domestic violence is no different than its pre-pandemic counterpart! Some of the consequences of a domestic violence conviction in California can include:

· Jail or prison time;

· Mandatory participation in domestic violence classes;

· Payment of fines and victim restitution;

· A restraining order;

· Loss of custody rights;

· Loss of firearm rights;

· A permanent criminal record;

· Immigration consequences for non-citizens;

· Summary (misdemeanor) probation; and/or

· Formal (felony) probation.

Common defenses to a domestic violation charge include:

· The act was an accident;

· The injuries were not caused by the defendant’s actions;

· The defendant acted in self-defense; and/or

· The alleged victim made a false accusation.

As with any criminal investigations and accusations, retaining counsel immediately upon arrest or learning of the allegations is critical. Early representation may result in a non-filing or the filing of a lesser charge. Simply put, it’s damage control.

If you or anyone you know has been accused of domestic violence during the pandemic self-isolation, we are here to assist you.  Please stay safe and healthy.


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