Our client, age 30, was a bartender in Manhattan Beach. She and her boyfriend of three years went out to HT Grill in the Hollywood Riviera section of restaurants and bars along Catalina Avenue. The two lived together.
At some point in the evening, our client told her boyfriend that she wanted to go home. Her boyfriend had the car keys and he asked her to stay out a little longer. However, he was extremely drunk. Our client believed he was far too impaired to drive safely. So, she asked him for the keys and he held out the keys only to playfully pull back his hand as our client tried to grab the keys.
Our client did not appreciate this teasing, so she tried to slap the keys out of his hand. When this was not successful, she slapped him twice on the left side of his face and told him she was taking Uber back home.
The client’s boyfriend called the police. The 911 call included him saying “ouch” and “stop hitting me,” which seemed to suggest our client continued hitting him as he was calling for help.
Our client then quickly walked out of the bar and walked toward the couple’s apartment. It was a July evening, so it was warm enough to walk a few blocks and safe enough in South Redondo Beach to do so, even as a female.
After our client had walked only a block or two, she heard sirens and saw Redondo Beach Police cars rushing to the HT Grill. Curious as to what had just happened, as well as concerned that her boyfriend might be involved, she walked back to the bar.
When she did so, police were talking to her boyfriend, who then pointed out our client to the police and our client was immediately arrested.
The police did not even ask our client her version of events until after she was arrested, handcuffed and was being transported to the Redondo Beach Police Station.
After posting bail of $50,000 for felony domestic violence, she called Greg Hill & Associates and explained what had happened. She described how she was just trying to make sure her boyfriend did not drive home drunk and possibly kill her, himself or others. She was ironically trying to prevent a crime, but was arrested for committing a crime.
Greg explained how both misdemeanor and felony domestic violence cases are handled in the Torrance Superior Court, but commented that he thought this case would be filed as a misdemeanor, which meant it would be prosecuted by the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor’s office.
The client had already called around to many other criminal defense attorneys before calling Greg, so she had ideas of what to do and discussed what other attorneys had recommended. Greg had to explain why some suggestions were unrealistic or would make the case worse for the client. The client then hired Greg Hill & Associates.
One idea that Greg did agree with was eliciting a declaration from the boyfriend, if he agreed to sign such a declaration, could be helpful for explaining that our client was merely trying to prevent a DUI and therefore, if anything, the case should not be filed, but if it were filed, it should be for public intoxication only.
Remarkably, the boyfriend agreed to this and signed such a declaration.
After the declaration was signed, Greg prepared a short cover letter explaining the context of the incident and requesting a no file or, at the most, a case for public intoxication only. Greg then personally delivered the letter and the declaration to the Redondo Beach Police Station to hand to the detective in person.
Curiously, due to Covid-19, the detective refused to come out of his back office in the police station to meet with Greg. Instead, he had a clerk bring him Greg’s letter with the declaration, which he read, but then returned to Greg and had the clerk tell Greg that Greg instead had to mail the letter to the Redondo Beach City Prosecutor. It was a bizarre response, but Greg followed such instructions.
At the arraignment, the client indeed was only charged with public intoxication (Penal Code § 647(f)). The police report, however, was written with plenty of detail about domestic violence, including a comment from the boyfriend that our client and he had six prior physical fights wherein he was injured by our client.
Greg then requested judicial diversion for the client on the case. The Redondo Beach City Prosecutor argued quite emotionally that this case was really a domestic violence case, not a public intoxication case, so judicial diversion should not be granted because judicial diversion (Penal Code §§ 1001.95 – 1001.97) cannot be granted to cases involving domestic violence, stalking or certain sex offenses requiring registration under Penal Code § 290. The prosecutor read from the police report and explained the history of domestic violence of our client.
The judge, however, kindly granted judicial diversion and assigned our client to nine months of diversion with a requirement that she attend 26 AA meeting and 12 hours of anger management classes. Our client was very happy and very lucky.
We bring this summary to the reader’s attention because it exemplifies how the prosecution of domestic violence cases can be unpredictable. We do not know if our letter and the declaration from the victim made any difference, or made the difference, quite frankly, but we certainly would like to think it did.
For more information about public intoxication, judicial diversion and domestic violence, please click on the following articles: