Typical Scenarios Resulting In Assault Charges In California

Interviewer: What is the most typical scenario that you see when it comes to assault when it’s not domestic violence related, just like violent crimes in general?

Paul Geller: A lot of the times, it deals with criminal threats.  When we start talking about violent crimes, we certainly have one minor types of assaults but I think for the purposes of our discussion, you’re really talking about more serious types of offenses, that is, criminal threats, assault by means of force likely to result in great bodily injury or death, or assault with a deadly weapon and we’re talking at the felony level.

Assault Charges may Have Potential for Being Misdemeanor but Mostly Assault is Charged as a Felony

Now, all of those that I’ve just mentioned have the potential for being misdemeanors but the majority of the time are felony charges.  Criminal threat is a common one not only in the domestic violence situation but in just the suicidal situation where you may have, for instance, husband and you have a boyfriend and an ex-boyfriend with the girlfriend being the common connection there and you have an assault between the two parties and maybe later on, a phone call that qualifies as a criminal threat, or you could have a boyfriend or an ex-girlfriend — ex-boyfriend and girlfriend and you could have an assault and/or criminal threat attached to it.

Criminal Threat is a Very Difficult Case for Prosecutors because It’s Mainly Based on Hearsay Evidence

Criminal threat, it’s a underlying charge, it’s a very difficult case for prosecutors because it tends to be a he said/she said type of a charge.  This person made some sort of threat against me; there was an immediacy of the threat, meaning they could carry it out.  It wasn’t conditional and I took it to be serious not in jest, not a joke or anything of that nature.  That can be very difficult to prove depending upon how it was communicated, the nature of the communication.

If a Couple Exchange Heated Words During an Argument , It Doesn’t Necessarily Mean that There is a Threat of Violence

When you examine, the way husbands and wives and boyfriends and girlfriends and the way we argue and communicate with each other, we say things that we don’t always mean or necessarily have any intention of acting on and for that to be construed as a criminal threat, in a legal context, it can be very detrimental to somebody’s general wellbeing, their employment, their life in the same way that we were talking about earlier regarding a domestic violence charge, but they keep coming back to the problems being, once the police are called, something is going to take place.

Police Can Question A Child Regarding a Domestic Violence Incident Without the Parents’ Consent

Interviewer: Could a police officer question someone’s child without the consent of the parents?

Paul Geller: They can if they feel that there’s some sort of threat, especially if there’s a parent that’s involved in the allegation but they can, there’s nothing prohibiting the police from questioning a child in that type of circumstance. That can become very tricky because children has witnessed it depending on the age, and depending on the nature of the interview, it can be very difficult to get a straight answer or to really get them to explain what took place without sort of coaching them if you will. You’ll see that come up a lot more in sex type cases because a lot of those cases involve a child as the victim versus the child as the witness.

Involving Children in a Domestic Violence Case Can be A Mentally Damaging Ordeal for the Child

I have handled many cases where the physical evidence is lacking in regards to the domestic violence complaint between the husband and wife and then, a statement is attempted to be obtained from a child and that can be very, very tricky as to how to receive that information. Often times, especially if you have a household where a husband and wife, for instance, and I’m using them as the contact but they’re not getting along, they’re two steps away from being separated and having a divorce and they’re using the child as a tool to sort of corroborate their own side, support their own version of the facts etc., and then, it just becomes a complete nightmare and it’s a very emotional and damaging situation let alone the legal complexities.

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