Our client, age 44, and his former wife had a stormy relationship. Our client was a Navy veteran and a software engineer. His wife described herself as a part-time lobbyist. She was very proud of having a degree in political science.
The wife had been cheating on our client despite having a young child with our client. They had been married about five years when the child was born. When our client found out about his wife’s infidelity, he commenced divorce proceedings.
Why This Summary Matters: Client allegedly violates criminal protective order during child custody hand-off through third party when his wife, the protected person of the order, hides from his view until he moves close enough to constitute a violation and then she steps forward, looking at him and shaking her finger at him as if to say “Got you!” Case dismissed when prosecutor in Long Beach understands wife set up the violation and that our client’s conduct was unintentional.
The wife was astounded that our client was intolerant of her sexual escapades outside the home. She reacted by texting him that she would “destroy” him and not relent until she did so.
She began by filing for a civil restraining order, falsely claiming he was dangerous to her. After having the request denied twice, it was granted on the third attempt. In the first two attempts, the judge simply did not believe anything she said.
In the course of the divorce proceedings, the family law court set forth orders on child visitation. At one exchange of the then two year old child, our client was on time at the prearranged location. The wife arrived ten minutes late, although she lived just 100 yards away. It was 11:00. She was to drop off the child with our client.
She was dressed as if she was going on a date, reeking of perfume and caked in makeup. Our client was not happy that she was late, but her clothing and makeup seemed to explain why. Our client was somewhat angry at her, but really became angry when she proceeded to tell him he was dumb and lazy. He slapped her slowly.
The wife gleefully called the police and cried hysterically. The police initially did not believe her, but she spoke with a supervisor at the police station who reluctantly agreed to write a report.
The Long Beach City Prosecutor’s Office charged our client with misdemeanor battery and our client entered into a plea bargain to resolve the case. The wife strangely attended every court appearance, as if eager to possibly lobby the judge or prosecutor. Part of the plea bargain included a criminal protective order that ordered our client to stay at least 100 yards away from his wife at all times. Our client was more than happy to cooperate.
Less than a month later, at one of the pre-arranged child transfers, the wife claimed our client violated the 100 yard stay away order. She had a child visitation monitor with her, as if only to be a witness. Our client and his wife met at a city park, where the wife agreed to transfer the child to the third party. The wife would then leave the location. Our client would then come about ten minutes later and pick up the child.
On the day in question, our client showed up on time and walked toward the third party, who was sitting with the child. Unbeknownst to our client, the wife did not leave as she normally did. Instead, she sat behind the third party, who was quite obese. Our client did not see the wife, as she was obscured by the large lady sitting with the child.
Once our client came within about twenty-five yards, the monitor stood up and yelled “halt!” Our client stopped, surprised at the yelling. After all, it was about ten in the morning. At that point, he could see his wife smiling sarcastically at him and shaking her finger at him.
The wife then called the police about the client’s violation of the 100 yard “stay away” requirement. The police refused to do anything for six months, much to the chagrin of the wife. She again demanded a meeting with the supervising detective to complain about the report not being filed or having her husband prosecuted.
Finally, the report was forwarded to the Long Beach City Prosecutor’s office, who filed a misdemeanor complaint against our client for contempt of a court order, Penal Code § 166(c)(1).
The client then hired Greg Hill & Associates. Greg listened to the client’s recollection of events and then appeared at the court for the arraignment in the Long Beach Superior Court. The prosecutor assigned to the case warned Greg that our client was a dangerous man who needed a lesson. The wife of our client strangely attended every court hearing, as if monitoring the proceedings, and attempting to address the judge, but never being given the opportunity.
In the meantime, Greg discussed the case with the prosecutor, explaining that for someone to abide by an order, one must have the ability to do so. People v. Greenfield
(1982) 134 Cal.App.3d Supp. 1, 4, 184 Cal.Rptr. 604. Our client could not see his wife, so he could not stay away from her by 100 yards, especially when she sat in a location out of our client’s sight.
Moreover, the violation must be willful. People v. Lara
(1996) 44 Cal.App.4th 102, 107, 51 Cal.Rptr.2d 402.
Finally, the case was set for trial. On the day set for trial, the prosecution dismissed the case. The client was very happy that the wife’s strained attempt to hijack our criminal justice system for an ulterior purpose, to “destroy” him had failed.
For more information about the issues in this case, please click on the following articles:
- What Punishment Do I Face for Violating a Restraining Order?
- I Face a Civil Restraining Order for Domestic Violence and a Criminal Charge of Domestic Violence – What Should I Do?
- Criminal Protective Order in Domestic Violence Case Is Improper When It Bars Father from Contacting His Kids, Who Were Not Victims in the Case