There has been a change in California’s law that affects individuals charged with sexual assault or domestic violence. Currently, the law states that a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence could not be held in contempt for refusing to testify about the facts about the case. Being held in “contempt” simply means disobeying the court’s authority or a court order. If a person is held in contempt, they are usually placed in jail and held there until they are ready to perform the court’s order or submit to the authority of the court. A judge may still find a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence in contempt for many other reasons; such as, the victim failing to appear in court or lying to the judge.
Beginning in 2013, the new law will essentially create unnecessary delays for a criminal defendant. Code of Civil Procedure section 1219 is amended to state that prior to finding a victim of domestic violence in contempt of court; the court may refer the victim for consultation with a domestic violence counselor. This means there will likely be additional delays for defendants charged with sexual assault or domestic violence. If a criminal defendant desires to cross examine the victim at trial, the victim would not be available as they will be busy consulting a domestic violence counselor. Most importantly, a defendant’s constitutional right to a speedy trial can be infringed if the victim causes unnecessary delay resulting from consultation with a domestic violence counselor.
Even more troubling, if you are charged with sexual assault or domestic violence and your case was dismissed by the Court for lack of sufficient evidence, the prosecution can still re-file the case. Penal Code section 1387 is now amended to state that the prosecution is allowed to re-file a criminal case if the Court’s dismissal of the charges was based on a victim of sexual assault or domestic violence being held in contempt. Therefore, if your criminal case was dismissed for insufficient evidence or lack of probable cause, you can still face criminal charges, if the result of the dismissal was due to the victim being found in contempt. This new law will impact your freedom significantly as there is no opportunity for you to move on with your life, even after having a court dismiss the case for lack of sufficient evidence.
If you or a loved one have been charged with sexual assault or domestic violence, it is necessary you contact an experienced Southern California criminal defense lawyer. Our attorneys have over 30 years of experience in handling sexual assault and domestic violence cases. Wallin and Klarich understands the fear and uncertainty a client faces and we are able to guide our clients through the complicated legal system. To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney, please call us at (877) 466-5245 or fill out our contact form. We will get through this together.