Our client and his wife were having marital problems. The husband was working two jobs and the wife stayed at home with the couple’s two young elementary school age kids, a boy and a girl.
In a Nutshell: Torrance domestic violence case; no visible injuries; case resolved for formal diversion and dismissal.
One night, the husband came home late at night and the wife immediately began arguing with the husband about not helping with household chores more. In her eyes, he left her each morning to go to work and she was relegated to doing laundry, shopping for the family and cleaning up after the two children. The wife was also unable to speak English, despite being in the United States for fourteen years, so her isolation felt more acute.
The two argued loudly and the husband, to show his anger, put on his shoes and kicked a small, thatched trash can across the room.
The wife became terrified by this violence and ran out the front door, yelling at him that she wanted a divorce.
In response, the husband sat down to enjoy a pomegranate with his boy. The wife, meanwhile, called the police and reported that her husband had picked up the small trash can and thrown it at her, hitting her in the upper arm and then kicked her in her butt.
The police came to the house immediately and arrested the husband, who was still wearing the shoes inside the home. The trash can was on its side in the home.
The husband was taken to the Torrance Police Station, where he spent the night.
The wife did not want quite so much police action. She just wanted the police to come to scare her husband.
She then wrote a long letter, in good English, explaining that her husband did not throw the trash can at her and did not kick her in the butt. She explained that her spoken English was very poor and that the police must have misunderstood her. Her letter explained that she did not know English well and that her vocabulary was quite bad. The letter also described how great a father her husband was and how hard he worked.
The client asked Greg to forward the letter to the Torrance City Prosecutor anyways. Greg warned that such a letter, contradicting the 911 recording, might backfire on the client. Greg explained the risks of this. The client insisted on giving the letter over anyways.
Greg agreed to forward the letter and did so.
Greg then appeared at the arraignment and received the complaint, which charged our client with two counts. Count One was a violation of Penal Code § 243(e)(1), misdemeanor battery upon someone with whom one has or did have a dating relationship, is a spouse or one with whom one cohabitates. The maximum fine for a violation of this is $2,000, plus penalties and assessments, and the maximum incarceration is one year in county jail. There are also mandatory classes one must take as well as contributions to a domestic violence fund and a booking fee.
Count Two was a violation of Penal Code § 242, misdemeanor battery. This charge is punishable almost exactly as is § 243(e)(1), except the maximum confinement is six months, not a year.
Greg also received the 911 call, which was surprisingly clear. Our client’s wife distinctly stated that our client did throw the trash can at her and did kick her several times in her butt. The language problem was not an issue.
At the next appearance, Greg met with the Torrance City Prosecutor again and asked her about an offer to resolve the case in light of the letter.
The Torrance City Prosecutor answered that she was going to make an exception to her general policy of never offering diversion on such cases and offer it here. It was apparent to Greg that she had not listened to the 911 call, which refuted the letter to the prosecutor, or had listened to the 911 call and decided to offer diversion anyways. Obviously, this was not a distinction Greg wanted to clarify with her.
The terms of the diversion would be a delayed entry of plea, wherein our client would plead no contest to a violation of Penal Code § 243(e)(1), but judgment would not be entered, if at all, for one year. During the year, the client would be obligated to attend 52 batterers’ program classes, make a contribution of $500 to a domestic violence victim’s fund through the Los Angeles Superior Court, pay $200 in court costs (no penalties and assessments added), perform 80 hours (10 days) of community service and pay the $431 City of Torrance booking fee.
The client was happy to avoid a conviction and looked forward to completing the terms of formal diversion to earn a dismissal.
For more information about domestic violence and diversion, click on the following articles:
- What Punishment Do I Face for Domestic Violence?
- What Is Diversion, Delayed Entry of Plea and Deferred Entry of Judgment?
- What Is Evidence Code § 1109 Evidence in a Domestic Violence Case?
Watch our Video about Domestic Violence by clicking here