D.S. was involved in a bitter custody battle with D.H. for their one year old son. D.S. and D.H. were never married and lived in California when their son was born. However, D.S. had no family support system in California; her entire extended family had long since moved back to their home state of Minnesota. Due to domestic violence, D.S. fled California with their son to Minnesota. D.H. filed emergency Orders to force D.S. to move back to California with their son, and the Court granted D.H.’s request. At that point, D.S. hired our firm. We participated in an emergency screening where the Court ultimately ordered temporary joint physical and legal custody and a “month-on; month-off” schedule which required the exchange of the minor child in an airport every month. Despite D.S.’s repeated requests for primary custody, and explanation that she fled to Minnesota because of domestic violence, the Court initially believed that she “abducted” the child with the intent to exclude D.H. from the child’s life and “used’ the allegation of domestic violence as justification for her move. As the case progressed, D.S.’s initial request for a restraining Order proceeded to trial. D.S. and multiple other witnesses testified at trial regarding the domestic violence throughout D.S. and D.H.’s relationship. The Court issued a permanent restraining Order and found, pursuant to Family Code Section 3044, that D.H. had perpetrated domestic violence against D.S., and further, that an award of joint or sole physical or legal custody to D.H. was presumptively not in the child’s best interests. After the restraining Order trial, the case proceeded to an Evaluation through Family Court Services. Due to the success in the Restraining order trial, Family Court Services recommended that D.S. have sole physical and legal custody and that the child reside primarily in Minnesota. D.H. reluctantly agreed to the recommendation from Family Court Services and D.S. has been living happily in Minnesota with her son ever since.
People v. A.R.
Aug 09, 2010
Not Guilty Verdict
People v. A.R. was a criminal domestic violence case. The District Attorney in charge of prosecuting the case had elevated the status of the case to a “strike” felony after the preliminary examination by adding an enhancement for the use of “a deadly or dangerous weapon” in the commission of the offense.
This case was not only important because of the severity of the charges, but also because the outcome of the case would directly impact A.R.’s spousal support and custody rights in her pending divorce. If A.R. was convicted in the criminal case, she could expect to go to jail, have an extremely difficult time finding a job with a felony conviction, would be presumptively ineligible for spousal support and also custody of her children.
In brief, the factual background of the case was that A.R. smashed a wine glass in her former husband’s face during an argument, causing minor lacerations but heavy bleeding. A.R.’s husband claimed that A.R. simply “lost it” and attacked him. The investigating officer arrested A.R. at the scene due to the victim’s injuries and transported her to the hospital.
However, under cross-examination, the arresting officer testified that he believed that A.R. was not the perpetrator of domestic violence, but rather, the victim. The investigating officer even admitted her made a mistake arresting her and that he offered A.R. an Emergency Protective Order after she was under arrest. Additionally, the victim admitted under cross-examination that he was using the criminal domestic violence case against A.R. to gain full custody of his children and to avoid paying A.R. spousal support. A.R. testified that she acted in self-defense and supplemented that theory with the history of abuse she suffered at the hands of her former husband. Finally, A.R.’s neighbor testified about several inconsistencies in the victim’s testimony and how his later actions to try and have A.R. set up for violation of a Restraining Order evidenced his plan to discredit A.R. in their divorce by using the criminal system against her.
After deliberating for approximately 45 minutes, the jury came back with a not guilty verdict.
People v. L.P.
Jul 07, 2008
Not Guilty Verdict/Lesser Crime
L.P. was charged with two “strike” felonies. After jury trial, she was acquitted of both felonies, and the jury found her guilty of a lesser misdemeanor for brandishing a weapon.
In 2007 after a festival, L.P. was leaving in her car when she became invovled in a verbal altercation with another car. The conversation quickly turned racial in nature and the other individuals began to insult and taunt L.P., her boyfriend and their infant child. L.P.’s boyfriend eventually exited the car to confront the other men. A fist fight ensued. As her boyfriend was mercilessly beat by two other individuals, L.P., fearing for his life, hit both of the other men with a carpenter’s hammer to end the fight. Both men were injured and bleeding.
When the police arrived, their brief investigation led them to conclude that L.P. was the primary aggressor. She was arrested and charged with two felony counts of assault with a deadly weapon.
At trial, the men involved in the fight lied to protect themselves from prosecution. They claimed that only one of them was involved in a fight, it was “fair” and that L.P. went crazy and attacked both of them for no apparent reason. At first, the jury believed their story because there story was corroborated by the testimony of their other friends who watched the entire incident from the car.
However, under cross-examination, the one man who denied involvement in the fight was confronted with evidence we discovered that he was involved in a gang beating only three years earlier. We successfully painted the picture that this man had a tendency to involve himself in gang fights. This began to turn the jury in our direction.
Finally, the nail in the coffin was that our private investigator found a witness that the police totally ignored during the course of their investigation. The third party witness provided an unbiased account of what occurred, which substantiated our theory of the case that L.P. acted in self-defense.