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Domestic Violence Attorney In San Diego

Loved ones can often trigger emotional responses. Sadly, in certain situations, a person might lose control, reacting in a manner that amounts to domestic violence.

In California, domestic violence cases have skyrocketed over the years, making authorities take a tough stance. The police, prosecutors, and judges take domestic violence cases very seriously. The state has several special domestic violence (DV) units and specially designated prosecutors within the D.A. offices ready to prosecute anyone accused of domestic violence rigorously. Non-governmental organizations have also become aggressive in protecting domestic violence victims.

Unfortunately, due to the tough stance the authorities have taken on these cases and the spotlight they receive from the media, people quickly believe the victim without sufficient evidence. Even worse, some victims make exaggerated or false allegations out of revenge, jealousy, or to have the upper hand in situations like a child visitation, custody, or alimony case. This leads to many people being convicted of crimes they did not commit.

Consequently, you want to entrust your case to a skilled attorney if you have been accused of or are even under investigation for domestic violence. Domestic violence cases can be further complicated by "she said, he said" accusations since many incidents involve no more witnesses than the victim and accused person. This could complicate your case, requiring an attorney who is an expert at interpreting evidence and developing a solid defense strategy based on the available evidence, with no or little eyewitness testimony.

At the San Diego Domestic Violence Attorney, we understand how detrimental wrongful domestic violence allegations can be and the possible lifetime effects of a guilty verdict. We boast the resources, experience, and knowledge to represent our clients against any domestic violence charge effectively, and we can do the same for you. Over 90% of all our domestic violence cases have been dropped without the client ever attending court. We understand, and our in-depth experience has confirmed that California domestic violence laws favor the victim more, and we will fight for you in every possible legal way.

For a complimentary legal consultation, if you have been charged in San Diego, call us any time at 619-393-8588.


Contact us anytime

24/7/365 by calling  619-393-8588

We can give you a free legal consultation. Our team can immediately get started working on your case! We are located in San Diego and serve the whole Southern California area.

What Is Domestic Violence In California?

Generally, domestic violence is defined as actual or threatened abuse against an intimate partner. The abuse can be physical, financial, sexual, or emotional. An intimate partner includes an ex or current registered domestic partner, spouse, cohabitant, fiance or fiancee, romantic partner, or the father or mother of a shared child. California domestic violence cases frequently arise amid family law-related disagreements over child custody arrangements or divorce issues. Although, that is not the only time they can arise.

Actions or behaviors that may lead to prosecution for domestic violence include intimidation, threats, harassing or annoying phone calls, and physical abuse like punching, slapping, pushing, hitting, battering, pinching, biting, kicking, shoving, beating, inflicting corporal injury, or hair-pulling.

The victim’s relationship with the accused differentiates domestic violence acts from other similar non-domestic violence actions. For example, the state has a standard anti-battery law, but it also has a law criminalizing and enhancing the consequences of battery on an intimate or romantic partner.

Of course, apart from these acts, there are other elements the prosecutor must demonstrate to obtain a domestic violence conviction. Sadly, most people are wrongly accused of committing these acts, and law enforcement usually rushes to draw false conclusions, taking the victim's side.

We understand that mistakes happen, considering that the police do not have imminent access to the relevant details and usually respond to emergencies where taking a safe course of action takes priority. However, that is not a reason for an innocent individual to be falsely accused, so their reputation, life, and career are ruined. We can assist you in fighting and defeating any domestic violence charge and restoring your freedom.

Types of Domestic Violence Offenses

Domestic violence is an umbrella term for multiple crimes against intimate partners. Some violations against older adults and children are also considered domestic violence. These crimes vary significantly in elements, severity, and punishment. Any violent or threatening act, whether or not the accused intended to hurt or compromise the victim's security and safety, could be grounds for criminal charges, per the state domestic violence statutes. The following are types of domestic violence offenses, but the list is not exhaustive.

Domestic battery is the unlawful and willful use of bodily force on an intimate partner and is criminalized under PC 243. It still counts as domestic battery even if no actual harm is inflicted, provided the perpetrator attempted to act in a manner likely to result in the injury, did not act accidentally or in self-defense, or made physical contact with the victim.

Corporal injury is criminalized under 73.5 PC. It occurs when a person's action inflicts even the slightest bodily harm on an intimate partner. This crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony based on the facts surrounding the case, like the extent of the inflicted injury and the accused's criminal record.

273a PC criminalizes someone willfully causing or allowing a minor under their care to suffer injury or have their health and safety endangered. It is also child endangerment for a person to leave a child in the care of someone known to be dangerous or irresponsible. Note that the child does not have to suffer a physical injury for a conviction to occur. The child's exposure to the possibility of injury because of an unreasonable risk suffices. This crime is a felony if the minor was exposed to the possibility of significant physical injury and a misdemeanor otherwise.

Per PC 273(d), a person commits child abuse when they inflict corporal injury or punishment on a minor. Reasonable spanking does not count as abuse under this law. But any punishment that is cruel or inflicts injury qualifies as child abuse. This crime can be charged either as a felony or misdemeanor based on the defendant's criminal history and the circumstances surrounding the case.

Under PC 270, child neglect is when a person willfully fails to furnish necessities like clothes, shelter, education, and food for a child under their care. Note that a child can be neglected even if they are not endangered or abused. This crime is a misdemeanor but can also be a felony in particular cases.

Elder Abuse is described under PC 368 as abuse against a person 65 or older. The abuse could be neglect, endangerment, financial fraud, emotional abuse, or physical abuse. Often, elderly relatives who live with an inhuman person suffer abuse. This crime is considered a wobbler, meaning the prosecutor can file either felony or misdemeanor charges based on the case facts.

Per PC 422, it is domestic violence to threaten an intimate partner with severe harm or death, placing them in reasonable and sustained fear for their safety or the safety of their loved ones. Note that you do not need to have addressed the person directly to be convicted. Making criminal threats can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor.

Stalking can also be considered domestic violence. It is described under 646.9 PC as threatening or harassing another to the extent they fear for their security or the security of their loved ones. This crime can be a felony or misdemeanor based on the defendant's criminal history and the facts surrounding the case.

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David Ruyle




About Our Lead Attorney, David Ruyle

Attorney David J. Ruyle has been a San Diego-based lawyer for over sixteen years. He boasts in-depth experience and knowledge in all domestic violence-related cases. While serving as an auxiliary officer in El Cajon, David witnessed firsthand the events that trigger domestic violence accusations. Due to this, and the fact that he has served as a prosecutor and defense attorney, he prides himself on spending valuable time with every client so they can properly convey their story in court for rigorous consideration.

Enough preparation is vital to arguing a compelling defense. Most of Attorney David's clients have admitted how well-prepared he is when handling cases. He knows that domestic violence charges can have severe, career-ending repercussions. He also understands that restraining orders might be sought most of the time, and other agencies, like Child Protection Services, might be involved. Therefore, he prepares thoroughly for a case, remembering that someone's freedom depends on him. He ensures he has all the facts and knows what defense strategies apply to what case facts.

Attorney David's aggressive representation, exceptional dedication, and skilled advocacy have yielded outstanding results, even when there seemed to be no way out. He is devoted to restoring the freedom of those who are sometimes defenseless against the criminal system. His lifetime mission is to defend the legal rights of the accused and fight for their interests.

David is conversant with how local court prosecutors and courts operate and understands legal technicalities and jargon. He understands how prosecutors and the police put together domestic violence cases, the errors they usually commit, and their shortcuts. He is capable of poking holes in the prosecution's case and using his skills to your benefit, either when your case reaches the trial stage or during plea negotiations.

With over two decades of experience defending against domestic violence cases, attorney Ruyle can successfully have his clients' charges reduced or dismissed. He can expertly comment on possible case outcomes if it proceeds to trial. David additionally understands the embarrassment, fears, and stress his clients face due to the charges against them and professionally guides them through the challenging period. He is qualified to practice in all San Diego-based federal and state courts, and judges, prosecuting attorneys, and peers respect him for his excellence and professionalism.

David's Education

  • SouthWestern College Police Academy, 2007.
  • Trinity Law School, 2001.
  • Baylor University, 1998 for undergraduate Bachelor of Arts.

David's Professional Association Membership

  • Consumer Attorneys of California.
  • San Diego County Bar Association.
  • California Bar Association.
  • The American Bar Association.
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Sentencing In Domestic Violence Violations

The consequences of domestic violence offenses vary based on the specific violation. But generally, a misdemeanor domestic violence offense carries up to $6,000 in court fines, summary probation, one year in jail, and a protective order. A felony violation can subject the accused to the same amount of fine, a protective order, formal probation, and up to four years in prison.

A conviction for a domestic violence-related crime can also result in the loss of gun rights, either for a given period or for life, depending on the nature of the violation. Using a gun or any dangerous weapon during the commission of any domestic violence crime, the presence of prior convictions for domestic violence offenses, and inflicting significant bodily harm are some of the aggravating factors that can result in sentencing enhancements.

If the judge imposes a probation sentence, probation terms may include enrollment in a 12-month batterer's intervention program, victim restitution, drug tests, and paying a given amount to a battered women's shelter. And if a violation is deemed a violent offense, it will be classified as a strike offense on a defendant's criminal record, leading to enhanced penalties.

However, a defendant can obtain an excellent plea deal where an acquittal or dismissal is impossible and face lenient penalties. For example, an attorney can negotiate a corporal injury charge to be reduced to a domestic battery (with no injury). Or, they can negotiate that an accused enter a pretrial diversion program to avoid jail time and, later, a criminal record.

At the San Diego Domestic Violence Attorney, we will fight to ensure you receive the best possible outcome for your case. If a dismissal or acquittal is impossible, we will use our expert negotiating skills to ensure you receive a lenient sentence. Call us for a consultation to learn more about how we can help you.

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Common Defenses for Domestic Violence Crimes

Legal defenses for domestic violence crimes vary from one crime to another. The defenses we will use in your case will depend on the specific facts of your case. Some of our most common defenses include:

1. No Intent

For a crime that requires the prosecutor to prove specific intent to hurt the victim, a person cannot be convicted if they had no such intention. We can argue that the injury inflicted on the victim was accidental. Or, if accused of criminal threats, we could assert that you did not intend for your threats to cause the victim to fear for their lives. Misunderstandings and accidents do not constitute criminal activity.

2. No Intimate Relationship

Domestic Violence laws clearly define who is and is not an intimate partner. If you have been accused of domestic violence against a victim who is not an intimate partner, the judge should not convict you under domestic violence laws. However, you may be convicted under a different law.

3. Self-Defense or Defense of Others

If you only committed an act constituting domestic violence to defend yourself against a victim who was the aggressor, you should not be convicted. We can argue that you or someone else faced the immediate danger of death or bodily harm or reasonably believed you or someone else faced the danger and used only the necessary force to defend yourself or the person from that danger.

4. False Allegations

Domestic violence is one of the most common areas where charges arise from false allegations. A person may wrongfully accuse their partner out of anger, jealousy, revenge, or to gain the upper hand in an alimony or child custody case. A supposed victim may even injure themselves to make their story believable to the authorities. If this happened in your case, we would not let you go to jail for something that was not your fault.

5. Insufficient Evidence

The prosecuting attorney must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that you committed the crime. If they are only relying on hearsay, it will be challenging for them to obtain a conviction. In this case, our strategy will be to poke holes in the prosecution's evidence to make it weak enough to cast doubt in the jurors' minds, resulting in a charge dismissal or reduction.

Are Domestic Violence Offenses Expungeable?

Whether you can expunge your domestic violence record depends on the charge. If convicted of a misdemeanor, you can delete your record provided you successfully served your probation or jail sentence, whichever applies, and there are no pending criminal charges against you.

If convicted of a felony, you may only erase your record if you served a jail term or probation and had no unresolved criminal charges. Still, in this case, whether or not you qualify for an expungement depends on the judge's discretion. If you were convicted of a felony and served your sentence in prison, you do not qualify for an expungement.

Even though eligibility requirements dictate you must have completed probation to erase your record, you can request an expungement before completing your probation if the judge grants you early probation termination. If the judge grants your expungement petition, your conviction record will be deleted, and you can confidently answer "no" if someone asks whether you have been convicted. An expungement also releases you from the challenges of conviction, like difficulty securing a job, renting an apartment, or enrolling in college.

The Criminal Process for Domestic Violence Cases

A domestic violence case often starts when police officers respond to a domestic violence scene. Once they are at the scene and have assessed the situation, they may decide to arrest the alleged perpetrator. The arresting officer will then compile a police report and book the suspect. Once the booking is over, the suspect can be held in jail.

The Prefiling Stage

The prefiling stage involves the police officer scrutinizing and analyzing the case facts to determine whether they can recommend that the D.A. file charges against the suspect. The police might question the suspect or witnesses in the case. Once they have collected sufficient evidence, they will send it to the D.A., who will decide whether or not to file charges.

During this stage, we will shield you from police interrogation and inform you of your rights while being investigated. We can also persuade the prosecutor not to file formal charges. 

The Arraignment

If the D.A. decides to file charges, the defendant will be arraigned in court. Arraignment is the first court appearance, during which the suspect pleads to the charges against them—guilty, not guilty, or no contest. The D.A. may also allow the suspect to post bail during the arraignment hearing to secure their freedom pending the resolution of their case. At this stage, the judge can also decide whether to issue a protective order against the defendant.

At this stage, we recommend that you enter a not-guilty plea, as there may be room for contesting your charges. Pleading guilty or no contest will directly lead to your sentencing, which could mean you will be unfairly convicted. We will also fight for you so the judge grants bail and releases you pending the resolution of your case.

Pretrial Stage

The pretrial stage follows if the defendant pleads not guilty at the arraignment. This is when the prosecutor and defense team try to resolve the case while preparing for trial. These two parties exchange evidence, negotiate plea deals, and file motions requesting the court make pre-trial rulings, like a ruling to exclude irrelevant evidence.

Almost all cases are resolved during this stage, meaning you will need a highly experienced attorney. At the San Diego Domestic Violence Attorney, we will advise whether a particular plea deal is worth taking. And once we scrutinize the prosecution's evidence, we know what pretrial motions to file to increase the odds of winning your case or what defense strategies to prepare in case your case goes to trial.

The Trial

If the defendant's case goes to trial, the defense team and the prosecutor will battle to persuade the jury. If your case goes to trial, you will need a knowledgeable and experienced lawyer who can quickly find evidence and witnesses to support your case and beat the prosecution's argument and evidence.

At San Diego Domestic Violence Attorney, we understand trials can be complex, but we do everything legally possible for favorable results. Even trials could involve plea bargains, but we always aim for an acquittal before considering a plea deal.

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