Our client, age 43, was a registered nurse and worked demanding hours. It was a stressful job, made more stressful when Covid-19 first arrived and the emergency rooms anticipated being overrun with patients and nurses feared catching the virus.
At the same time, her husband, was a special needs teacher at a local elementary school. The job could be emotionally draining.
The couple’s marriage was not as strong as it could be. Each spouse had caught the other spouse cheating with co-workers.
One day, the perfect storm arose. An active shooter was reported around the husband’s school and so he had to shelter in place with about fifteen special needs children well past normal hours until the shooter was arrested. While sequestered with the special needs children, our client received dozens of phone calls from concerned parents of the children and the children themselves could not understand why they were not able to leave. It was stressful.
On the same day, our client returned home from the hospital, where she had been briefed about coronavirus and how the hospital was likely to be affected in the coming months with a highly contagious disease.
The husband and wife came home at about the same time and the husband tried to tell our client about his extremely stressful day. In response, our client did not want to hear anything about him, so she told him to go find his mistress to talk with if he needed someone to commiserate with. The husband responded by calling our client a whore. Our client then “popped him” in the face, meaning she slapped him hard. The husband then called the Lakewood Sheriffs, who came to the house and arrested our client.
Our client was held on charges of violating Penal Code § 243(e)(1), misdemeanor domestic violence upon one’s spouse, cohabitant, boyfriend, girlfriend or one with whom one formerly had a dating relationship. Her head was spinning, anxious that her license as a registered nurse (RN) would be revoked over a charge of domestic violence.
Interestingly, the Lakewood Sheriffs released our client a few hours later on her own recognizance, perhaps fearing that she would contract coronavirus in the jail there.
The couple then called Greg Hill & Associates and met with Greg the following day. The couple explained the factual background of what led up to the argument and the slap, as well as the tremendous professional and financial consequences if our client were to lose her job with her RN license being suspended. Our client had no prior criminal history.
Greg then explained how domestic violence cases are generally handled and recommended that the client immediately begin taking court-approved batterers classes, in person in possible even with coronavirus concerns. Greg also asked for a photocopy of her license as a registered nurse, a paycheck stub to show she is working as a registered nurse and documentation from the husband about the active shooter lockdown at his school the day of the incident.
There was still about two months until the arraignment, which gave the client the opportunity to attend at least six batterers classes, which she did.
Greg then prepared a letter to the Bellflower District Attorney’s Office, who was now being led by an attorney who used to work in the Long Beach District Attorney’s Office. Greg had worked with her on several cases in the past. The letter requested that the case be handled through an office hearing and enclosed our client’s RN license, proof of her being so employed as an RN and proof that the husband had been involved in an active shooter situation the same day as the incident.
The day for the arraignment arrived and there was no response from the District Attorney’s Office to our letter requesting an office hearing.
So at the arraignment, Greg renewed this request and showed the calendar DA a copy of the earlier letter to her supervisor. The young DA in the courtroom suggested that the parties continue the arraignment to a further date to give her time to review the materials with her supervisor.
At the next hearing, quite fortuitously, the young DA agreed to an office hearing in a few weeks. Greg then went to the office of the supervising DA, with the assigned DA to the case, and discussed the facts of the case, the minor nature of the battery, the mitigating circumstances, and Greg’s suggestion of simply letting the client complete 52 batterers classes for a dismissal.
The supervising DA responded by making an offer that the charge of domestic violence would be dismissed, but our client would enter a no contest plea to disturbing the peace (Penal Code § 415(2)) as a misdemeanor and a second charge of disturbing the peace as an infraction.
Sentencing would be delayed for a year and if our client finished the 52 batterers classes and otherwise had no violations of the law, she would be allowed to withdraw her plea to the misdemeanor charge and just be sentenced to an infraction-level violation of disturbing the peace.
This would mean she would not be on probation at all, which could have severe negative consequences for her RN license.
The client accepted the People’s offer, very grateful that the domestic violence charge was dismissed and that she had the opportunity to avoid a conviction for a misdemeanor of any sort and the negative consequences that this might have had for her RN license.
We should mention in closing that this resolution was quite unusual and lucky, so resolving other cases in a similar way may not be possible.
For more information about domestic violence and the issues in this case, please click on the following articles: