A Los Angeles judge has upheld a temporary restraining order against lawyer Michael Avenatti after he was accused of domestic violence by his former girlfriend, actress Mareli Miniutti.
Restraining Order Against Michael Avenatti Upheld
Last November, actress Mareli Miniutti, 24, accused Avenatti of domestic abuse. As a result, a restraining order against the lawyer was put in place. That restraining order was upheld in late January. The next hearing is set for March 13.
Domestic Violence Allegations
According to Miniutti, the domestic violence stemmed from an argument with Avenatti about money.
“He dragged me on the floor of the apartment towards and out of the door into the public hallway,” she wrote in the filing. “I was wearing only my underwear and a T-shirt at the time, and suffered scratches to the bare skin on my side and leg.”
She alleges that Avenatti also hit her face with pillows and followed her into a guest bedroom where she went to sleep alone.
Avenatti insisted the allegations against him were fabricated, tweeting that “I have NEVER abused a woman or committed domestic violence against anyone. Any claim to the contrary is completely bogus and fabricated. I am a target. And I will be exonerated.”
The incident led to him being arrested.
The Los Angeles District declined to file felony domestic abuse charges against him and instead, sent the case to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office to determine whether to file a misdemeanor charge.
It remains unclear if Avenatti will be charged.
Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorney
Domestic violence is a broad legal term that encompasses a great number of offenses, including domestic battery, spousal abuse, elder abuse, child abuse, criminal threats, stalking and harassment, and the consequences associated with domestic violence charges can be life-changing. Not only can a domestic violence conviction result in jail time and significant fines, it can also tear apart your family, ruin your personal and professional relationships, jeopardize your career, and lead to other life-changing problems, including adverse immigration consequences and a loss of child custody rights. Your first course of action if you are being investigated for domestic violence should be to contact a Los Angeles domestic violence attorney with the experience and knowledge necessary to protect your legal rights and help you build a strong defense in your case. With the help of our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles, you can fight your domestic violence charges and move on with your life.
Affordable Domestic Violence Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Our experienced domestic violence defense team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles can help you defend yourself against domestic violence charges and increase your chances of reaching a favorable outcome in your case. We understand that no two domestic violence cases are alike and that these cases can be particularly challenging and emotionally-charged, which is why we use every resource at our disposal to limit the fear, stress and uncertainty that goes along with facing domestic violence charges. In the aftermath of a domestic violence accusation, it is the priority of law enforcement to make an arrest and it is the priority of the prosecution to get a conviction. At Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles, it is our priority to build a strong defense in your domestic violence case and ensure that your legal rights are protected throughout the process. With the right defense strategy, we may be able to cast doubt on your guilt and have your charges reduced to a lesser offense or convince the prosecutor not to pursue a criminal case at all.
Under California Penal Code § 13700, the term “domestic violence” is defined as abuse committed by a person who intentionally or recklessly uses, or threatens to use, physical force against an intimate partner. California’s domestic violence laws apply to crimes committed against a person’s current or former spouse, cohabitant, fiancé, domestic partner, intimate partner, co-parent or dating partner, but the California Family Code expands this list to include the defendant’s child or any person related to the defendant by blood or marriage within the second degree, such as siblings, grandparents, grandchildren, step-siblings, half-siblings, nieces and nephews, and aunts and uncles.
Two of the most common domestic violence charges in Los Angeles are Penal Code § 273.5 PC corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, and the less serious offense, Penal Code § 243(e)(1) PC domestic battery. An example of Penal Code § 273.5 PC would be if a husband and wife get into an argument and the man strikes his wife, giving her a black eye. If the wife calls the police and her black eye is visible, the husband could be prosecuted for corporal injury on a spouse, as he physically struck his wife and caused her to suffer a traumatic condition. If, in the same situation, the husband pushes his wife but does not cause her any physical injury, he could be charged with domestic battery in violation of Penal Code § 243(e)(1) PC. Other related domestic dispute charges may include Penal Code § 422 PC criminal threats, Penal Code § 273(a) PC child endangerment, Penal Code § 273(d) PC child abuse, and Penal Code § 273.6 PC violating a domestic violence restraining order.
Conviction for Domestic Violence Penal Code § 273.5
Although other violent crimes like assault and battery are illegal, and prosecuted as such, violent acts are taken much more seriously in Los Angeles when the alleged victim is a spouse, dating partner, family member, or someone who lives with or has a child with the defendant. Unfortunately, there are few safeguards in the California legal system to protect innocent men and women from being falsely accused of and wrongfully charged with domestic violence, and this type of crime often carries the stigma of “guilty until proven innocent.” It is still up to the prosecution though, to meet the requisite burden of proof to convict on charges of Los Angeles domestic violence. For instance, in order to get a domestic violence conviction under California Penal Code § 273.5 PC, the prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt every element of the offense, including that:
- The defendant intentionally and unlawfully inflicted physical injury on his or her intimate partner;
- The injury resulted in a traumatic condition; and
- The defendant did not act in self-defense or in defense of another person.
Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction
The state of California has taken steps to prove that it is tough on violent crime in recent years, and as such, the penalties associated with domestic violence charges have become considerably more severe. In addition to jail time and significant fines, the consequences of a domestic violence conviction can include: a restraining order, a loss of gun rights, mandatory participation in a batterer’s program, a loss of child custody rights, immigration consequences for non-citizens, and a permanent criminal record.
Under Penal Code § 273.5 PC corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, willfully inflicting corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a spouse, cohabitant, intimate partner, co-parent or close family member is a “wobbler,” which means it can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the circumstances of the case. As a misdemeanor, Penal Code § 273.5 PC is punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or up to $6,000 in fines. As a felony, the crime is punishable by two, three or four years in state prison and/or up to $6,000 in fines.
Under Penal Code § 243(e)(1) PC domestic battery, when battery is committed against a spouse, former spouse, fiancé, a person with whom the defendant is living, a person who is the parent of the defendant’s child, or a person with whom the person currently has, or previously had, a dating relationship, the crime is a misdemeanor offense, punishable by up to one year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Under California Penal Code § 422 PC criminal threats, it is illegal to willfully threaten to commit a crime that will result in great bodily injury or death to another person, causing that person to reasonably fears for the safety of his or her immediate family. As a misdemeanor offense, Penal Code § 422 PC is punishable by up to one year in county jail, and as a felony, the crime is punishable by up to four years in state prison.
In some instances, the judge in your case may be willing to sentence you to probation, rather than jail time, if the crime is your first offense, or if the victim’s injuries are not significant. This is more often the case with misdemeanor offenses, as felony domestic violence charges are typically brought only in cases where the victim suffers a significant injury.
Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence is a damning offense in this day and age, one that requires the expertise of a criminal defense attorney willing to aggressively defend your rights and help you achieve a favorable resolution to your case. There are several defenses to domestic violence charges in Los Angeles, including the following:
- The so-called domestic violence was an accident;
- The alleged victim made a false accusation;
- The defendant acted in self-defense or in defense of another person; or
- The alleged victim’s injuries did not result from the defendant’s actions.
Hiring a Qualified Domestic Violence Attorney in Los Angeles
Domestic violence is a serious transgression that carries harsh penalties and serious social consequences that can ruin your reputation and follow you for the rest of your life. Unfortunately, in some cases, false allegations of domestic violence are made out of anger by someone trying to manipulate the system or get revenge against their partner during divorce proceedings, child custody battles and other sensitive family law cases. It is far too easy for an innocent person to be wrongfully charged with domestic violence in Los Angeles because of a misunderstanding or manipulation, and the Los Angeles courts are full of men and women facing domestic violence charges who were wrongly convicted at trial or who agreed to a plea deal for something they didn’t do. If you have been charged with or are being investigated for domestic violence, contact our knowledgeable defense lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles today to discuss the details of your case.