Domestic violence charges have some of the most restrictive penalties in California. Individuals accused of domestic abuse in California face more than just jail and fines. Defendants can be restricted on where they can go, who they can talk to, and have their firearms taken away. As of January 1, 2023, people accused of domestic violence can also face sanctions if they file multiple lawsuits to remove some of these restrictions.
Domestic Abuse Law AB 2391 Signed by Governor Newsom
On July 1, 2022, Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 2391 into law, which went into effect on January 1, 2023. AB 2391 provides for civil actions against "vexatious litigants."
A vexatious litigant can mean someone who repeatedly relitigates or attempts to relitigate a decision that was already rendered by the court. The term can also refer to someone who repeatedly files unmeritorious motions or pleadings, conducts unnecessary discovery, or engages in other tactics that are frivolous or intended to cause unnecessary delay.
The bill "allows domestic violence victims to petition a court to have their abuser designated as a vexatious litigant if, while a restraining order is in place, the abuser files meritless lawsuits in an effort to maintain contact with the victim."
According to the bill's sponsor, State Assemblyman Jordan Cunningham, "Abusers will use any tool at their disposal to continue to harass and intimidate their victims. Abusers with resources can exploit the court system and file meritless lawsuits in order to force their victims to continue to appear."
The courts already have the ability to enter a prefiling order to prohibit a vexatious litigant from filing new litigation without first getting permission from the court. Existing laws also already allow the court to issue a protective order in cases of domestic violence, including against harassment, threats, or disturbing the peace.
What To Do When Accused of Domestic Violence in Oakland
Defending yourself against accusations of domestic violence can be challenging. In many cases of alleged domestic abuse, there is little to no evidence of abuse or indications of who was the perpetrator. It often comes down to one person's word against another. Even before the defendant ever has their day in court (or even if charges are later dropped), the accused may face irreparable damage to their reputation because people just assume the allegations were true.
Some defendants simply accept the prosecutor's plea bargain offer because they don't think the jury will believe them. Before you plead guilty to a serious battery of assault offense, make sure you understand your legal options and right to have an attorney represent you in court. Challenging the criminal charges can help you avoid the criminal penalties associated with a DV conviction in California.
You may have a stronger case than you realize. There are several defense strategies for people accused of domestic abuse, to have the penalties reduced, get the charges dropped, or win your case in a jury trial. Talk to an experienced East Bay domestic violence defense attorney about your rights to a strong legal defense.
East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 39 years of DUI and criminal defense experience and understands the consequences of a criminal record. Representing individuals and their families in Contra Costa and Alameda County, Lynn Gorelick is familiar with the local criminal defense laws, local officers, and the prosecutors involved. Contact East Bay criminal defense lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.