Domestic violence maintains a high place on the hot topics list in national conversations. Players in professional sports add to the multiple stories every day in the news for the public to scrutinize. Ordinary citizens are also in the news, committing acts of domestic violence against their partners. While some victims go unnoticed, others pay the ultimate price by losing their lives when domestic violence goes unchecked. Public officials, responsible for the enforcement of domestic violence laws, frequently go about business as usual, overwhelmed by the daily exposure to the domestic violence resulting from the fundamental lack of respect people have to the ones who are closest to them.
Murder - Domestic Violence’s Ultimate Price
The denial of a community about the seriousness or domestic violence and the potential for death vanishes when a husband murders his wife. Battered women look upon this and realize if they don’t do anything they could be the next victim. Often they think of calling law enforcement to try and get restraining orders against their husbands or lovers.
The family of the victims are rocked by their love one’s loss. They seek justice from the law and support from the community, but not always successfully. Women activists seek publicity to encourage law enforcement for help during this time when they are most vulnerable to the opportunities for change that must be made in order to protect women from the deadly violence of domestic abuse.
Prosecutors and police usually focus on the homicide investigation rather than pattern of domestic violence that has been demonstrated usually lead up to the murder. Domestic violence always has a pattern, and is repeated and escalates. Although the events are reported to the police, they frequently fail to provide the protections to the victim that the law attempts to provide.
In spring of 2013, a Shingletown, California, resident call 911 for help.
On the other end of the line, the dispatcher heard breathing and crying, loud bangs, and then the line went dead. The police arrived to find Sandy Miller, daughter Shelby, 8, and daughter Shasta, 5, dead from multiple gunshots. Key suspect in the triple murder was Sandy’s husband, Shane Franklyn Miller, 45. The U.S. Marshals’ Service quickly added him to their 15 most wanted fugitives list.
Reports indicated Miller had previously threatened to kill Sandy and his daughters. On the day she intended to inform him that she wanted to have a place of her own for her and her daughters to get away from the domestic violence, he killed her and their daughters.
Two weeks prior to their murder, Sandy Miller had tried to escape her husband’s violence by going to the Shasta Women’s Refuge, according to officials at the refuge. During a previous domestic violence dispute she had left Shingletown, going to Humboldt County. According to the Marshals’ Service, her husband followed her to a motel and returned her to Shingletown.
“Sandy Miller told a Shasta County District Attorney investigator that Shane Miller was abusive. Shane Miller had discovered her whereabouts when she had previously left him and forced her to return,” the investigator in the case stated in an affidavit. “He also threatened to kill her and their daughters if she left him again. On the morning of the murders, Sandy Miller told her mother that she planned on telling Shane Miller later that day that she was leaving him.”
Federal officials stated that Shane Miller also threatened to kill his sister-in-law, her children, and his mother-in-law.
Multiple agencies were aware of the warning signs, but they were all unheeded by those in authority who could have done something to prevent the murders.
Common Cliches About Domestic Violence
Despite the usual images of domestic violence society has, anybody can be a domestic violence victim. It doesn’t matter what sex, age, culture, race, education, religion, employment, or marital status they have. While women are the usual victims, men can fall prey to domestic violence as well. Women may be suspicious of strangers, but it’s usually those closest to them, such as a lover, husband, boyfriend, or other family member, who is the mostly likely person to victimize them.
It is estimated that one out of every four women will experience some form of domestic violence during her lifetime. In the United States the leading cause of injury to women between 15 and 44 is domestic violence. This is more than muggings, rapes, and car accidents combine. It is estimated that every 15 seconds in the United States a woman becomes a victim of domestic violence at the hands or her husband or partner. Approximately three to four million women in the U.S. are beaten by husbands or ex-husbands or male lovers each year in their homes.
A critical change happens when women try to leave their relationships because of some level of abuse. Frequently upon leaving the relationships they end up living in poverty. It’s a difficult choice but better than living with domestic violence. In spite of the dangers of domestic violence, there are a number of cultural and social factors that try to encourage women to stay in abusive relationship to try and make things work. It’s difficult when the violence is a long-standing pattern for both the woman and her partner.
Men who abuse their wives or girl friends frequently says it’s because their wives or girl friends are terribly inadequate. “She’s too lazy and doesn’t do what I tell her!” It is evident these abusive men are dependent on their partners. Some factors that leads such men to violence includes emotional withdrawal, fear of rejection, and/or abandonment. Similar to women who are incapable of leaving abusive relationships, men who batter their wives and children also tend to be psychologically incapable of leaving such a relationship.
While women are usually thought of as being victims of domestic violence, men are often victims more than most people realize. While men tend to be physically stronger, it doesn’t mean they can always escape domestic violence in the relationships they have. Unlike women, a man who is abused doesn’t have the resources women do, must face skepticism by police, and encounter major legal obstacles, especially involving trying to gain custody of their children having an abusive mother.
Male victims of domestic violence has to deal with issues their female victims don’t have to. Both genders are hesitant to report domestic abuse because of embarrassment, or the fear of making the situation worse. In addition to embarrassment, male victims have to deal with identity issues of being a man. This is due to the fact they they’re afraid their family and friends will consider them weak if they find out they’re “let” their female partner abuse them. According to a report from the ManKind Initiative, which campaigns for male victims of abuse, statistics show that 38% of domestic abuse victims are actually male.
Domestic Violence Laws in California
California’s Domestic Violence Laws have been, originated in 2000, have been referred to as a patchwork of statues trying to help victims of domestic violence. However, these laws don’t address some of the biggest obstacles faced by victims, even though they make an honest attempt to prevent domestic violence in family and intimate relationship situations.
The state identifies the beginning of domestic violence as the time an individual commits a criminal act according to the relationship type specified in the California Penal Code. These relationships are classified as a spouse or ex-spouse; current or former cohabitant in the home; a parent the individual has had a child with; or a partner in a dating relationship. For most situations of domestic violence, these are adequate classifications.
The California Penal Code Section 273.5 criminalizes domestic violence. According to the code it’s a crime if the conduct of an individual willful leads to a “corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition” suffered by another person the individual has a familial or intimate relationship with specified in California’s domestic violence laws.
Since the Penal Code criminalizes battery in familial or intimate relationships, prosecutors can decide to charge defendants with battery under Penal Code Section 243(d) if the defendant “inflicted serious bodily injury” on the victim. Under this section, battery is a greater degree of harm the victim suffered due to domestic violence.
Domestic violence and child abuse frequently go hand-in-hand. To address this, prosecutors may also charge a defendant of domestic violence under various other applicable sections of the Penal Code. Based on the crime’s severity and harm to the victim, as well as other circumstances in the case, a prosecutor decides what criminal charges to pursue.
California Penal Code Section 836 has mandates for arrest for when defendant violate restraining orders. This section recognizes the potential consequences dealing with violations of restraining orders as well as the casual treatment police often give these violations. Now California police are required to arrest offenders who violate restraining orders in domestic violence cases. Unfortunately there is no requirement in the legislation for a district attorney to then prosecute these cases of restraining order violations the police sends to them.
The Role Prosecutors Play in Cases of Domestic Violence
Over the years legislators have been given opportunities to address certain aspects, they still have not address crimes such as domestic violence, rape, and child abuse. The district attorney has absolute power to refuse to file charges even if there is solid the evidence for the charge. When this occurs, the victims have no legal remedy. This unrestricted prosecutorial discretion was shown in Sonoma County which has the lowest conviction rate in the state, and cases for violence against women and children tend to be systematically undercharged.
Even though California does a fair job overall when it comes to enforcing domestic violence cases, there is considerable work still to be done in order to make the laws for domestic violence effective when in order to protect victims and their children.
If you are a victim of domestic violence you need the expert advice and support of a domestic violence attorney such as Sevens Legal Criminal Lawyers. Contact Sevens Legal Criminal Lawyers, today for a free consultation.
Criminal Defense Attorneys
3555 4th Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
Phone: (619) 297-2800