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New Bill Would Increase Statute of Limitations for Domestic Violence in California

August 30, 2019

If passed, the bill would extend the statute of limitations and require officer training.

New Bill Would Increase Statute of Limitations for Domestic Violence in California

In California, it is a crime to harm or threaten to harm a current or former intimate partner. Crimes of domestic violence may be charged in a number of ways under California law. And under a bill introduced by legislators, the statute of limitations would be extended by five years.

As a criminal defense lawyer Orange County, CA explains, a statute of limitations is the time that a prosector has to bring a criminal charge in a case. If the prosecutor fails to bring the care within that period of time, then it cannot be brought. There are some times when the statute of limitations may be tolled, or paused, such as if the defendant leaves the state to avoid prosecution. However, as a general rule, the statute of limitations strictly limits when a criminal charge can be brought against a defendant.

Under a proposed law, Senate Bill 273 (SB 273), prosecutors would have up to eight years to bring domestic violence charges in cases where the perpetrator confesses or where new evidence (such as videos, photos, or written or electronic communications) emerges that would be sufficient to charge the perpetrator. The current statute of limitations for domestic violence charges in California is three years. In addition, the law would require additional training for law enforcement officers on domestic violence.

This bill is opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of California, as well as the California Public Defenders Association. According to these groups, extending the statute of limitations could threaten defendants’ constitutional rights and reduce the incentive for prosecutors and police to address reports of domestic violence in a timely manner. The statute of limitations protects suspects in criminal cases from having to defend against criminal charges where memories may have faded or evidence may have been lost. If the statute of limitations for domestic violence is extended, then it may put defendants in these types of cases at an unfair disadvantage.

In California, domestic violence is defined as abuse committed against an intimate partner. Abuse is committed when a person intentionally or recklessly uses or threatens to use physical force against an intimate partner. For purposes of this law, an intimate partner is a current or former spouse, domestic partner, fiancée, live-in romantic partner, a person with whom the accused has a child with, or someone the accused is seriously dating or has seriously dated in the past.

According to a criminal defense lawyer Orange County, CA, a crime of domestic violence may include battery, threats, abuse, and neglect. Domestic violence crimes may be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors. However, most California domestic violence offenses are wobblers. This means that they can be charged as either felonies or misdemeanors, based on the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history.

The consequences of a domestic violence conviction are quite significant. Beyond jail time, participation in a batterers’ intervention program, and payment of fines, anyone convicted of domestic violence will also be subject to a restraining order and loss of custody rights (where applicable). In addition, a domestic violence conviction will result in a loss of California gun rights and immigration consequences.

If you have been charged with a California domestic violence offense, you need an aggressive criminal defense lawyer Orange County, CA to defend your rights and freedom. The Chambers Law Firm can help. Contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com to schedule a free initial consultation.

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