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If choking is reported 12 hours later, how long until an arrest warrant is issued and how long does the warrant last for?

San Bernardino, CA |

Boyfriend choked girlfriend in San Bernardino.
Girlfriend reported the incident to police 12 hours later and showed them marks on her neck.
Incident occurred in mid-July and both girlfriend and boyfriend separately left the area soon after.
When/will an arrest warrant be issued?
If boyfriend is gone from area (possibly out of country) will the warrant stand until he returns or is found or will it eventually expire?

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Attorney answers 3

Posted

After the investigation is complete, the law enforcement agency may submit a request to the DA that certain charges be filed. The DA will review the reports and evidence and decide what charges that they intend to file. Once the filing decision is made, a criminal complaint is submitted to the court with the filed charges and the case against the defendant is initiated. In cases where the defendant is not in local custody, an arrest warrant declaration is submitted with the complaint. A judge will review the declaration and, if it contains sufficient information, the arrest warrant will issue.

In that process, there are many potential points of delay. However, this is a pretty routine process, once initiated, and is typically fairly efficient. An arrest warrant for this type of crime is typically issued in San Bernardino with 2-4 weeks, but keep in mind that that is a very broad generalization.

Once issued, the warrant will remain in the system essentially forever, until it is affirmatively recalled.

So long as the defendant is an adult, it is possible to check on the court's computer to see if a case has been filed and/or a warrant issued for the case. You may check case status at http://206.169.61.205/openaccess/

All of that said, crimes of domestic violence are taken very seriously in San Bernardino (and California in general). Furthermore, depending on the facts, there are additional serious crimes that may have been alleged here. I strongly urge Boyfriend to consult with an attorney ASAP, so he can figure out his best course of action. If the asker is Girlfriend, she may want to consult an attorney as well, regarding pursuing a restraining order and other potential legal issues.

Any statements I make in these forums (fora?) should not be taken as direct legal advice, merely informed guidance. This is true due to the anonymous nature of this venue, and the incomplete information which is invariably provided by the questions. It is imperative that you consult directly with an attorney regarding your specific situation before acting on or relying on anything represented here. Period.

Asker

Posted

After using the link you helpfully listed, it appears that a warrant has not been issued. I have a further question, if the girlfriend is out of the state and the boyfriend is arrested, how will it work as far as her being a witness at the trial?

Jeffrey George Moore

Jeffrey George Moore

Posted

That is not a simple question to answer. If she is located by the prosecutor and is cooperative, she can (and will) be transported and housed in-state for her testimony at trial by the DA. If she is not cooperative, the DA issues an out-of-state subpoena for her and compels her presence. If you want the details of the process, you can Google "interstate subpoena compact". However, essentially she is subpoenaed to a court in her area, and the judge there orders her to come to California to testify. Either way, successful evasion is rare. Police, prosecutors, and courts are highly motivated in this type of case, and have a surprising amount of power to compel her presence for the trial. Note that her presence and testimony is not generally necessary for a preliminary hearing, assuming the defendant is charged with a felony. A law passed by proposition in the '90's (Prop 115) allows for an investigating officer to testify to hearsay statements at preliminary hearing. 99% of the time, this type of testimony is sufficient for a preliminary hearing. Interestingly, a recent change in laws makes it harder to compel testimony where the alleged victim is an unwilling participant in this type of prosecution. In days gone by, the girlfriend could be jailed for contempt of court if she refused to testify. Now, though, the court cannot jail a victim in this type of case merely for refusing to testify. I mention this not to encourage the victim to refuse to testify, but only because this information is widely available. Because of this, it is important to note that dissuading a witness from testifying can be a very serious crime, even if the dissuader does not intend to threaten or intimidate the witness. So while a witness cannot be jailed for refusing to testify, a person could be imprisoned for trying to convince that witness to keep their mouth shut. In other words, please avoid any contact or communication with any potential witness in a criminal matter that could be construed as threatening, intimidating, or dissuasive. I'm still not sure what side of the equation that you are on, quite frankly. Either way, good luck. Feel free to contact me if I can help with the situation at all.

Asker

Posted

I am the girlfriend. The boyfriend is unaware of the police involvement. I would prefer for this to be a learning experience that does not involve significant jail time or a felony conviction. The whole purpose is for this kind of behavior to not be repeated towards anyone, however I do not believe that incarceration would serve anyone well. The boyfriend wants to go on to grad school which I think is a good idea. I am not currently in contact with the boyfriend but he has emailed me.

Jeffrey George Moore

Jeffrey George Moore

Posted

I'm happy to speak with you further about the implications of the conduct here. To summarize, this is potentially Big and Ugly. Criminal prosecutions are not learning experiences. Those days seem to have past, for better or worse. Under California law, your boyfriend is facing the potential of felony charges, and possibly even significant jail or prison time for his actions. (I'll spare you the "alleged" language for the purpose of this discussion.) Of course, I cannot predict what the prosecutor will decide to pursue, but a choking incident with visible bruising is rarely seen as a minor event by law enforcement. In California, victims do not choose whether or not prosecution is pursued in crimes of violence. Once the conduct is reported to police, the decision-making process rests in the hands of law enforcement. While the victim has the right to give input into the prosecution and sentencing, he/she does not have the right to direct or dictate. At least one of the reasons for this is the belief that this sort of conduct is so far beyond acceptable that "learning experiences" or free passes are simply not enough. Punishment is mandated, and the punishment must include an intensive Batterer's Treatment class. Whether this belief is right or wrong is a matter of opinion and is beyond the scope of this forum...and it is also an irrelevant discussion as it is the state of the law. For the record, I would encourage both you and the boyfriend to avoid any non-essential communication. It can avoid mixed signals and/or the appearance of witness intimidation or other communication issues. From his perspective, he needs to avoid making the situation worse or otherwise compromising his situation. From your perspective...this guy choked you. Unless there is some remaining property or family law issues to settle, what communication is necessary? It's not my place to tell you how to approach the situation...but if he choked you to the point that the police were called and bruises were present, what more needs to be said?

Asker

Posted

Thank you for responding to my questions. I have wondered about these things and really appreciate that you practice in the area and probably know what you are talking about from a legal standpoint. In addition, I am sure you have some awareness of how violent relationships frequently start with a strong trend toward isolationism. The abused person's view of the abuser in abusive relationships bears a close resemblance to Stockholm syndrome seen in hostage scenarios. Clearly the initial instinct of getting away from and disliking the out-of-control partner eventually gives way to an irrational emotional attachment to the abuser. I only mention this in response to your very last sentence because it has taken me quite a long time and the input from a small number of people who really care and were deeply concerned for me to report the incident. I have been living in an environment where anyone who was even mildly aware of the situation appeared judgmental of me and making the boyfriend unhappy which served to increase the isolation. I apologize for going on I just have had conflicting feelings over the whole thing (I'm sure similar to Stockholm syndrome) and would like to say that it is a VERY conflicting, emotionally confusing situation to be in. Once again, thanks for all of your helpful responses. Even if it ends up coming out very negatively for the boyfriend, I'm sure learning in some way or another will be involved and he will hopefully get the opportunity to stay out of trouble and be successful at some point.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for responding to my questions. I have wondered about these things and really appreciate that you practice in the area and probably know what you are talking about from a legal standpoint. In addition, I am sure you have some awareness of how violent relationships frequently start with a strong trend toward isolationism. The abused person's view of the abuser in abusive relationships bears a close resemblance to Stockholm syndrome seen in hostage scenarios. Clearly the initial instinct of getting away from and disliking the out-of-control partner eventually gives way to an irrational emotional attachment to the abuser. I only mention this in response to your very last sentence because it has taken me quite a long time and the input from a small number of people who really care and were deeply concerned for me to report the incident. I have been living in an environment where anyone who was even mildly aware of the situation appeared judgmental of me and making the boyfriend unhappy which served to increase the isolation. I apologize for going on I just have had conflicting feelings over the whole thing (I'm sure similar to Stockholm syndrome) and would like to say that it is a VERY conflicting, emotionally confusing situation to be in. Once again, thanks for all of your helpful responses. Even if it ends up coming out very negatively for the boyfriend, I'm sure learning in some way or another will be involved and he will hopefully get the opportunity to stay out of trouble and be successful at some point.

Asker

Posted

Also, I did make the report over 6 weeks ago. Are they really that busy?

Asker

Posted

Also, I did make the report over 6 weeks ago. Are they really that busy?

Jeffrey George Moore

Jeffrey George Moore

Posted

As much as I hear the sentiment from my clients, "my life is over if I'm convicted of these charges," that is simply never true. While his or her life may well change after the prosecution, it is not over. I am fortunate in that my death penalty clients have all avoided death sentences, so I cannot (and would not) comment on the impact of that particular outcome. Thankfully, that is not an issue that your boyfriend would need to deal with here. Thank you for sharing the experience of an abusive relationship from your perspective. Legally, I'm familiar with the Power and Control Wheel and other theories of abusive relationships, but it is rare to hear the situation so eloquently described. I sincerely hope that you are able to find a healthy relationship in your future. I cannot help but think that some counseling would be beneficial to you, either in the short or the long term. I am surprised at a 6 week delay in this type of report. It's not out of the realm of possibility, though. It is certainly possible that it has been referred to the DA's office and is sitting on a DA's desk waiting for the filing decision. If you are interested, you can attempt to contact the investigator assigned to the case by the investigating agency to ask about the status of the case.

Posted

A warrant may have already been issued. A call to the local sheriff's department warrant's division where the incident occurred can confirm whether there is a warrant. A warrant can expire or renewed so that it is active for many years. Even if it expires, if an individual leaves the state to avoid the warrant, it can become problamatic years later. Better to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney if a warrant has issued. There may be speedy trial issues that can result in a dismissal, but there are various factors and consulting an experienced attorney will give the answers you seek.

Posted

There is no set time frame for an arrest warrant. If the girlfriend reported it to the police the police can ask a Judge for an arrest warrant based on the girlfriend's statement. Once an arrest warrant is signed by a Judge it lasts until the person is arrested or dies.

The police can also submit the report to the District Attorney's office. If the DA's Office files charges then an arrest warrant can be issued by a judge if the DA applies for the warrant. That arrest warrant will last until the person is arrested or dies. They do not expire.

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