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Why You Need Domestic Violence Attorney

Domestic violence is at epidemic levels in San Diego, throughout California, and across the whole US - and unfortunately, the hot-button nature of this class of crimes due to heavy media coverage and its "close to home" impact, often results in people quickly believing the accuser without adequate evidence.

And there are many who take advantage of this trend towards a "presumption of guilt" with domestic violence crimes to make false or greatly exaggerated accusations, either out of pure revenge or to gain some benefit like winning a child custody battle, for example.

At Domestic Violence Attorney, we understand the impact of a mere allegation of domestic violence and the even greater, potentially life long impacts of a conviction. And we have the knowledge, experience, and resources to effectively defend you against any and all California domestic violence charges. We have a long list of satisfied past clients and strong reviews both online and off.

For a free legal consultation, do not hesitate to contact us anytime 24/7. Call us at 619-393-8588 today and we will waste no time in getting started on building you a solid defense and winning your case!


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.

How Is
"Domestic Violence" Defined Under California Law?

The California Penal Code distinguishes domestic violence crimes from other, otherwise equivalent acts, based on the relationship between the perpetrator and the victim. For example, there is a regular anti-battery statute in California, but there is additionally a statute criminalizing and adding relatively enhanced penalties for battery against an "intimate partner." The same could be said of infliction of corporal injury.

When the victim is a current or former spouse, fiancé, dating partner, cohabitant, or other romantic partner, it legally counts as a "intimate partner" for the purposes of domestic violence laws in California.

Of course, there are additional elements of each particular domestic violence crime, and the prosecution must prove each element beyond reasonable doubt to gain a conviction. The battery, injury, threat, or other illegal act must be established as well as the relationship involved. Unfortunately, many get falsely accused of domestic violence and police often jump to false conclusions, too quickly taking sides. It's understandable that mistakes are made, given that police don't have immediate access to all relevant information and are often called in to resolve emergency situations where erring on the side of caution to keep everyone safe, takes priority.

But that's no reason why an innocent person should be wrongfully pursued and his/her reputation and future career and life destroyed. We can help you fight and defeat any and all domestic violence charges and save your future.

Common Classes of Domestic Violence Crimes

Aside from crimes against a current or prior intimate partner, certain crimes against children and the elderly are also sometimes classed with domestic violence crimes. All in all, there are numerous specific types of domestic violence allegations, varying greatly in substance, severity, and in how they are punished.

Here are 12 of the most common DV Crimes that we routinely handle at Domestic Violence Attorney - though, of course, this isn't anywhere near an exhaustive list.

Any willful and unlawful application of physical force against another person is an act of battery. When the victim is an intimate partner of the perpetrator, then it's domestic battery. Even if not actual injury is caused, so long as there was an attempt to commit actions that would likely result in such injury, it wasn't an accident or self-defense, and physical contact was made with the victim, then it counts as domestic battery. This is a misdemeanor charge.

When battery or another action results in actual physical injury to an intimate partner, then it is the crime of corporal injury. The exact degree of penalty will correspond to the degree of injury, the defendant's prior criminal record, and other details of the incident will determine if PC 273.5 is charged as a felony or as a misdemeanor. As a felony, this crime is punishable by up to 4 years in state prison.

Although criminal threats is not exclusively a domestic violence crime, it quite often comes up in domestic violence cases. When assault, battery, or corporal injury may not have taken place but the threat to commit such acts allegedly did occur, then PC 422 will be charged. Issuing criminal threats can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the nature and context of the threats issued. As a felony, it counts as a "strike" under our state's Three Strikes Laws.

Stalking is also frequently connected with domestic violence crimes and with making criminal threats. It need not be physically walking around following someone, although that's often the form it takes. Stalking can also be making harassing communications toward another person or threatening that person or his or her family. Stalking PC 646.9 can be either felony or misdemeanor. As a misdemeanor, stalking can get you up to a 1 year jail term; as a felony, it can carry to 3 years in prison.

It may seem odd at first glance that damaging or destroying a telephone line and/or telephone is a criminal offense and is consider, in one respect, a domestic violence offense. But what often happens is that someone intent on committing domestic violence cuts off all means of communication so the victim can't call for help. Therefore, PC 591 is a serious offense. It can be charged as either misdemeanor/felony, and as a felony it is punishable by 3 years in prison and a fine as high as $10,000.

Ordinary trespassing would normally be a misdemeanor, but aggravated trespass can be a felony in some situations. The reason why this is such a serious crime isn't so much the violation of private property, but the fact that aggravated trespassing occurs within 30 days of issuing a criminal threat - and is done to attempt to carry out that threat, which is often a threat to commit domestic violence or even to murder or maim a victim.

"Revenge porn" is a kind of cyber harassment where someone posts pornographic pictures of an ex for the purpose of embarrassing and distressing that person. In today's age of the Internet, this crime is not that uncommon and the posts can be seen by large numbers of people, including friends and family, or by friends of the perpetrator in a matter of days or hours. This is a misdemeanor crime that is punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail.

There are other ways besides revenge porn that people get revenge or otherwise harm others' reputations, harass, and cause offense via online postings. When the Internet is used to harass directly with messages to the victim, that is stalking; but when it's done indirectly by posting items and sending messages to others, then it violates PC 653.

All too often, child abuse occurs in the context of domestic violence. When a child is treated cruelly and caused bodily harm due to the willful act of an adult, it is child abuse. Child abuse charges cannot eliminate the right of parents to exercise reasonable disciplinary measures, nor is an accidental injury abuse. Also, it is not at all impossible that a child (under 18) would invent a story to try to get an unwanted adult out of his/her life.

When an adult willfully places a child under his or her custody in danger of physical injury or death, or when he/she leaves the child in the care of someone known to be irresponsible or dangerous, it is child endangerment. When the child was at risk of "great bodily injury," PC 273a is a felony. Otherwise, it is usually a misdemeanor.

Under PC 270, the willful failure to provide basic necessities for a child under one's care - such as food, shelter, clothes, an education, etc., to a minor under your care is the crime of child neglect. In tense, chronically dysfunctional home situations, sadly, children are often neglected even if not abused or endangered.

Many times, an elderly relative who lives with an abusive son, daughter, or in law, suffers abuse. It may be physical or verbal abuse, or financial fraud, neglect, or endangerment. Abuse of those 65 or older is a specific crime in California. As a misdemeanor, it is punishable by a year in jail, and as a felony, it is punishable by up to 4 years in prison.

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David Ruyle




David Ruyle Jr. has been an attorney in San Diego for over 16 years. He has extensive experience in all types of Domestic Violence cases. Attorney Ruyle has personally witnessed the occurrences that lead up to the need for law enforcement to file domestic violence charges (usually PC243(E)(1) or PC273.5) when he was a Reserve Police Officer with the City of El Cajon. Since he has personally witnessed events causing a need for a domestic violence charges and represented both the State and Defendant’s he takes pride in spending quality time with each client so that his or her story is properly conveyed to the court for thorough consideration. Being prepared is key to presenting a compelling argument. Many of his clients find him easy to work with and communicate due to his experience and patience. Attorney Ruyle knows that a domestic violence charge can have serious and even career ending implications. Our law firm also knows that many times other agencies such as Child Protection Services may get involved or Restraining Orders may be filed and in some circumstances both. Don’t leave your case to chance ,as soon as a person has contact with law enforcement or has been booked and released reach out immediately so a defense strategy can be built around your specific situation and get started right away. We have built our reputation on tenacity, dedication and unsurpassed customer care.

David Ruyle is a preeminent domestic violence attorney whose skilled advocacy, aggressive representation, and exceptional dedication have produced outstanding outcomes even in the most challenging domestic violence cases. Mr. Ruyle is dedicated to securing the future of who sometimes don’t have a voice. He has made it a lifelong mission to stand up for the rights of those accused in the criminal defense sector and represent their best interests in the justice system. During his long tenure as a defense attorney, he started to see the recent influx of domestic violence cases and changed his focus to representing clients specifically in need of a knowledgeable, vigorous, and committed Domestic Violence Attorney.

Mr. Ruyle is familiar with California court procedures and an expert at understanding the legal technicalities. He knows how police and prosecutors put together a domestic violence case, the shortcuts they take, and the mistakes they usually make. Mr. Ruyle is able to find loopholes in the law and use his expertise to your advantage either in taking your case to trial or negotiating a plea.

With more than 16 years of experience as a domestic violence defense attorney, Mr. Ruyle can negotiate for the charges against his clients reduced or have the case dismissed and sealed altogether. Mr. Ruyle can knowledgeably opine on likely outcomes of a case in the event that it goes to trial. At one fell swoop, he understands the stress, fear, and embarrassment his clients are facing because of their domestic violence charges and is an expert at guiding them through this challenging period in their lives. David Ruyle is admitted to practice in all state and federal courts in San Diego. He is highly respected among judges, prosecutors, and peers for his professionalism and excellence.

Professional Associations

  • The American Bar Association
  • California Bar Association
  • San Diego County Bar Association
  • Consumer Attorneys of California


  • Baylor University, 1998 for undergraduate Bachelor of Arts
  • Trinity Law School, 2001
  • SouthWestern College Police Accademy, 2007
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Sentencing for Domestic Violence Crimes in California

Again, there is a great variety in how crimes of domestic violence are punished, depending on which specific crime is at issue, if there are aggravating factors like serious bodily injury or child endangerment, and whether or not it's a first offense.

But, in general, a misdemeanor DV charge can get you fines as high as $6,000, as long as 12 months in a county jail, summary probation, and a restraining order that can last as long as 10 years. A felony DV conviction can result in the same fine and restraining order, but also in 2 to 4 years in state prison and formal probation.

As of 2018, a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction cancels gun rights for 10 years, while a felony DV conviction takes away gun rights for life. But starting on 1 January, 2019, misdemeanors DV crimes will also permanently eliminate gun ownership and carrying rights - at least, in the case of domestic battery.

Note that use of a firearm or other deadly weapon during a domestic violence offense, existence of prior DV or other violent crime convictions on your record, or infliction of "great bodily injury" will increase the sentence. Great bodily injury includes causing a broken bone, scars, facial disfigurement, severe burns, knife/gunshot wounds, and vital organ damage.

Typically, those convicted of domestic violence have to attend a one-year batterer's treatment program, make full victim restitution, and pay a sum to a state-approved battered woman's shelter.

If your domestic violence conviction is for a violent crime, it will likely be a "strike" on your record. A second strike will double the jail/prison sentence for that offense. And a third strike results in from 25 years to life in prison.

However, it is often possible to get a favorable plea deal even where a dismissal or acquittal is unrealistic. Often, a charge reduction to disturbing the peace or trespassing is possible or from corporal injury to domestic battery (without injury inflicted.) Also, it is sometimes possible to gain entry in a diversion program and/or a deferred entry of judgment program, which could allow you to avoid creation of a permanent criminal record after completing all the terms of the program.

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Common Defense Strategies Against Domestic Violence Charges

In defending our clients against various domestic violence allegations, there are innumerable hyper-specific defense strategies that we use - for we build each defense to the exact needs of each particular case. But, even with the great variation based on the exact charge and the details of the case, there are common types of defenses we often use.

Here are 5 defense strategies we frequently use with great success in our many domestic violence defense cases:

1. Lack of Intent

You cannot be guilty of domestic violence, and especially not of crimes like domestic battery, if you had no intention to harm the victim nor to commit an act that any reasonable person would/should know would be likely to cause bodily harm. It's not difficult to imagine how, in the midst of a domestic dispute, someone could get hurt accidentally. As another example, there must be an element of intent to incite fear for a criminal threats charge to stick. Accidents and misunderstandings are not crimes, plain and simple.

2. Lack of Relationship

There may be a disagreement, in certain cases, over whether a true "intimate partner" status even exists. Without such being admitted by both parties or established on evidence, many offenses (even if they were committed) would receive significantly lighter sentencing and would not count as "domestic violence."

3. Defense of Self or Others

If the alleged victim was actually the aggressor, then it could be a case of self defense. If you were in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury or death, or had a reasonable belief of such a danger, and if you used only so much force as was necessary to thwart that danger (even if "deadly force"), then it was self-defense, not domestic violence. And the same applies to defending another person in imminent danger of bodily harm.

4. False Accusation

It is very common for domestic violence crimes to be fabricated out of a spirit or revenge or of jealousy because an ex has a new relationship or to try to win a child custody battle during a divorce. There are even times where injuries are self-inflicted to make the story seem real to police and prosecutors. Domestic Violence Attorney will know how to get to the truth and expose false accusers for what they really are.

5. Lack of Sufficient Evidence

The burden of proof is "beyond all reasonable doubt" in regard to all elements of the alleged crime. And that is a high burden to meet. The fact is, when evidence is circumstantial at best, it's a pure he-said, she-said case, or if key witnesses fail to testify, or if witnesses keep on changing their stories, it's quite likely that the prosecution will not be able to prove their case and win a conviction.

Can Domestic Violence Crimes Be Expunged?

We often get asked the question whether or not a domestic violence conviction can be expunged from a criminal record in California. The answer is, "it depends." Both misdemeanor and felony convictions can, potentially, qualify - but it's much more usual for misdemeanors to qualify than felonies since serving actual prison time disqualifies from expungement. However, there are some felony domestic violence crimes that may not result in actual prison time served.

Each offense has a different wait period, following completion of all sentencing elements (including probation) before you can apply for expungement. All fines, victim restitution sums, batterer's program classes, and the like must be dealt with. You cannot have a new conviction or new charge pending either.

You can, however, often file for expungement before finishing the full probationary period IF you are granted early termination of probation by the presiding judge. You can petition for both expungement and early termination of probation at the same time. To get probation ended early, you normally have to have served at least half of the time and have a good, if not 100% flawless, probation record.

If you qualify, expungement allows you to get the conviction off your record and have it replaced by a dismissal. This gives you a much better chance of getting a good job since most employers run criminal background checks. It can also help you get a state-issued professional license, get approved on an apartment lease, or for enrollment in college.

Stages of a Domestic Violence Defense Case

Domestic violence cases normally begin when an alleged victim or a neighbor calls up the police or dials 911. Police rush to the scene of the domestic dispute with only one thing in mind - to make sure no one is hurt. Upon arrival, they are faced immediately with two different sides of the story, and it may not even be clear who was the aggressor. In other instances, there is just an accusation but not signs of actual physical harm - but police have to decide, nonetheless, whether to make an arrest.

Unfortunately, appearances and circumstantial evidence, along with the desire of police to "err on the safe side," often dictate that the wrong person is arrested, or that someone is arrested when no one should have been. The police report will often contain little more than the other side's version of what happened and inconclusive pieces of information, while other key pieces of evidence are left out. 

Nonetheless, the police report is made, and a citation with court date is issued. You may be taken to jail only for a short period to "cool off," but in felony cases, you would need to either pay bail or await your arraignment before getting out of jail.

Pre-Filing Stage

After the arrest but before any formal charges are filed, there is a window of time where the police and prosecution will continue their investigation, gather evidence, talk to witnesses, and decide if they think they "have a case" against you. If police feel they have a good case, the District Attorney will then review the case (if a felony is to be filed) or the city attorney (if a misdemeanor will be filed) before making the final decision to press charges.

Quite often, there is a chance for your lawyer to interact with the city attorney pre-filing if it's a misdemeanor allegation. A special hearing is often called, which may give you the ability to conclude the case out of court. A good attorney can present evidence in your favor at this point that might convince the prosecution to drop the case. Or, you might be able to come to a reasonable settlement. A third possibility is that the case will be "paused" for months or even a year while the prosecution waits to see if they will finally take the matter to court or not.

The Arraignment

Once your first court date, or "arraignment," arrives, you will have a chance to formally face the domestic violence complaint that has been filed against you. This is where you will have to make your plea - guilty or not guilty. If there is a favorable plea deal available, and you fully understand its terms and consequences, you might plead guilty in return for deferred entry of judgment, a diversion program, or a reduced charge or sentence. Otherwise, you would plead not guilty.

The arraignment is also the time where the judge will decide if you qualify for bail or not, and if so, how high to set it. The decision will be based on recommendations set by the state and county, the defendant's past criminal record, any evidence the defendant ever fled justice in the past, and the nature of the alleged crime and its potential penalties.

Finally, the judge will also decide at the arraignment whether or not a restraining order will be issued. As there are different kinds of restraining orders, your lawyer can attempt to avoid such an order or at least petition for a less stringent one.

Pre-Trial Phase

After the arraignment but before the trial date, there will be one or more opportunities to resolve matters out of court. Around 95% of case are resolved pre-trial, which means you want a lawyer well experienced in pre-trial negotiations and the making of pre-trial motions.

A pre-trial settlement might be favorable and worth agreeing to, but the better your lawyer, the better settlement you likely will be offered since the prosecution will fear going to trial and losing. Pre-trial motions can increase your chances of winning in court. For example, some motions can get evidence the prosecution is counting on declared inadmissible in court and effectively get your case dismissed. The overall point is that what happens pre-trial can put you in a better position going into the trial or allow you to avoid going to court altogether.

The Trial

For those 5% of cases that do actually go to court, a back and forth battle begins to win over the jury. Experience and legal knowledge are key here, as well as diligent research into the details of the case. You need a lawyer who will find witnesses and evidence in your favor and defeat the evidence and argument of the prosecution.

Even trials can end in a plea deal, but you always want to aim first of all for a full acquittal. And only by relying on a skilled defense attorney can you maximize your chances of victory.

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