Since the start of shelter-in-place orders going into effect in March 2020, California has seen an increase in domestic violence calls and concerns, as have many other states. Accusations of domestic violence at any time can have serious consequences. However, during the pandemic, such accusations can carry more uncertainty than usual as courts continue to operate in a limited capacity.

If you have been accused of domestic violence, what do you need to know?

Potential criminal penalties

Domestic violence in California is a serious accusation that comes with severe penalties for the accused individual if convicted. Depending on the circumstances of the case, penalties could include:

  • Fines up to $6,000, depending on the severity of the charges
  • Jail time, including potentially up to one year in county jail or two to four years in a state prison
  • Probation and counseling services
  • A restraining order against the victim and potential other involved parties

Aside from criminal penalties, accusations alone of domestic violence can be damaging to your career and reputation. It is imperative to work with a criminal defense attorney early on, in order to determine your options to move forward and fight the charges.

Restraining or protective orders during the pandemic

The issuance of restraining or protective orders can be penalties of a conviction. However, police officers can also issue emergency orders on the spot after communicating with an on-duty judge. While these emergency orders typically last between five and seven calendar days, under California emergency rules, an emergency protective order can be extended by up to 30 days.

It is critical to understand the rules of emergency protective orders, as well as other restraining or protective orders. Violating such orders can result in additional criminal charges.

The legal process amid COVID-19

Court procedures are constantly changing across the state. In Santa Clara County, 25 departments and four courthouses are open to hear a limited number of cases. According to the Santa Clara County Superior Court’s website, all family violence cases will be heard at the Hall of Justice in San Jose. It is important to remain in close contact with your attorney to be kept up to date on any changes in scheduling, whether you reside in Santa Clara County or a neighboring county.