Interviewer: If someone’s been accused of such activities, what are some things that are going to help their case? I mean like you know for instance, anger management, is that something that’s going to help someone or is that going to be an admission of guilt automatically?
Paul Geller: I am a big believer of counseling in general. If someone gets arrested for an assault or a battery, if there is truly evidence and a feeling of anger to the point that it becomes physically destructive and there is evidence of physical violence, then certainly getting involved in anger management and a court approved anger management program or domestic violence program can be beneficial both on a personal level as well as ultimately perhaps as a means of dealing with the case on the legal side. That doesn’t negate the duty and the job of the defense attorney to see whether or not the prosecution can still prove their case. I encourage clients who come to see me when they’ve been arrested for something like this and they ask me that question, I basically tell them exactly what I just told you. It wouldn’t hurt if you feel that you personally need that type of assistance. If you’re going to do something, you should do something along the lines of the court approved programs so that can also benefit you legally.
If a Defendant Fells that they Need Professional Counseling then it is Advisable that they Utilize Court Approved Programs
Having said that, it’s not necessarily something I’m immediately going to share with the prosecutors especially in a situation where I feel like there’s a good defense or my client is being wronged in the nature of this case being prosecuted. So, I don’t want to necessarily corroborate the decision by the prosecutors or agree with the decision to prosecute someone by showing that my client is now involved in anger management or domestic violence. Again, sometimes it’s a matter of alcohol being involved and I think something that might be more beneficial is going to AA or doing some other type of counseling that addresses the igniter of the situation, if you will.
Marriage or Couples Counseling is Another Option in a Domestic Violence Dispute
Another option is having the couple, especially when you have a situation where both have very volatile personalities, both parties were involved in contributing to the aggressive nature of the contact, I would want them both going to counseling and I think that can be beneficial as well legally because it certainly could corroborate any self-defense claim that my client would bring up later on. The tricky part about that is when prosecutors want there to be a stay-away or a restraining order in place, we need to address that with the court to allow them to continue to go to counseling together etc.
Alleged Victims Need to Attend Court Mandated Programs and Classes as Well
Certain counties are more open to that alteration to protective order than others. Los Angeles County, depending on the level of the charge and then, the nature of the alleged injury, can be very assistive in allowing that type of counseling to continue. Whereas Orange County, for instance, can be a little bit more restrictive and difficult. In fact, they have a program in place that not only does the defendant need to be enrolled in participating in classes but for a “Victim” to request the restraining order be changed, they have programs and classes in place for alleged victims and most of the time, the court requires that those alleged victims attend a certain number of classes before they can even address the court in changing a restraining order. So, it’s sort of a you’re guilty before you’re judged guilty as opposed to innocent until proven guilty type of an approach when it comes to domestic violence.
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