Recently, actor Johnny Depp was hit with a restraining order from estranged wife Amber Heard. Heard filed for divorce in May, with Heard requesting temporary and long-term spousal support, to which Depp has refused. Depp’s lawyers are now questioning if Heard’s allegations of domestic violence are simply a way to ensure a solid financial footing - one which will be built upon Depp’s wealth.
Depp and Heard Divorce
At the end of May, and after just 15 months of marriage, 30-year-old actress Amber Heard filed for divorce from Depp. Just a week after her filing, the actress filed a domestic violence restraining order against her estranged husband.
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.
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.
Restraining Order Filed
As part of the restraining order filed against him, Depp was ordered to stay away from Heard. In the complaint filed in court, Heard alleged, “During the entirety of our relationship, Johnny has been verbally and physically abusive to me.” The statement goes to on say, “Johnny has had a long-held and widely-acknowledged public and private history of drug and alcohol abuse.”
In addition to documents filed in court, Heard supplied photos which demonstrate injuries to her face following an alleged altercation with Depp on May 21.
Depp filed a response “memorandum of points and authorities” in which he rejects his estranged wife’s claims of domestic violence. “Amber is attempting to secure a premature financial resolution by alleging abuse,” the court document reads. “Her current application for a temporary restraining order along with her financial requests appears to be in response to negative media attention she received earlier this week after filing for divorce.”
Obtaining a Restraining Order
Court issued restraining orders direct a violent person to stop harassing a victim or children of the victim and may be obtained by appearing at the Superior Court located nearest to you.
A restraining order may be obtained to:
- Direct an attacker to leave the household
- Prevent an attacker from entering the residence, school, business, or place of employment of the victim
- Award a victim or other parent custody of, visitation with, a minor child or children
- Restrain an attacker from molesting or interfering with minor children in the custody of the victim
- Direct the party not granted custody to pay support of minor children, if that party has a legal obligation to do so
- Direct the defendant to make specified debit payments coming due while the order is in effect and/or
- Direct that either or both parties participate in counseling
If a person is found to be in violation of a restraining order he or she can be arrested by the police.
Most Recent: Depp Accused of Violating Restraining Order
In the most recent turn of events for the Heard-Depp divorce and restraining order case, Depp appeared to have violated the restraining order when one of his representatives attempted to remove property from the couple’s downtown Los Angeles apartment.
Though neither Depp nor Heard were in the Los Angeles apartment at the time, Heard’s team called Los Angeles police on June 13, alleging that Depp had violated the restraining order against him when he sent an assistant to remove property from the couple’s downtown apartment.
Heard was reportedly in New Jersey, and Depp has reportedly been on his private island in the Bahamas during all of these recent allegations.
A trial will take place on Friday June 17 to determine if the restraining order will be deemed a permanent order, or dismissed altogether.
Restraining Order Violations and Contempt of Court
When a civil court order, such as restraining orders, are violated, this is considered “Contempt of Court.” A violation such as this happens if you intentionally ignore a legal restraining order, also known as a “protective order,” issued by a judge. Under California Penal Code Section 273.6, contempt violations are considered a criminal act, punishable by fines and/or imprisonment.
In order to prove a conviction for violation of a restraining order under Penal Code 273.6, a prosecutor must prove: (1) a judge issued a legal protective order; (2) the defendant was aware of the legal protective order; and (3) the defendant knew they were intentionally violating the legal protective order.
California Restraining Order Violation Penalties
Even though protective order violations are usually considered misdemeanors, the penalties under Penal Code 273.6 can be up to a year in county jail and a fine of as much as $1,000. If convicted of violating a protective order a second time, it can either be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, which includes anywhere from probation and as much as one year in jail, to three years in a state prison and maximum fine as much as $10,000. If the second conviction is within one year of the first, the penalties and fines are greater. If the violation of a protective order results in personal bodily injury, there is also a statutory minimum requirement of 30 days in jail.
California Restraining Order Violation Defenses
Legal defenses that can be used if you are charged with violating a protective restraining order include the following:
1. Lack of Intent: If a person is unaware that a protective order has been issued, and therefore violates it, they cannot be convicted of a violation. An example is if you accidentally have a chance encounter with somebody in a public place or at a social function who has had a protective restraining order issued against you.
2. Lack of Knowledge: To be convicted of a restraining order violation, the court must prove you had knowledge of the protective order. If you are unaware that a protective order has been issued, you cannot be convicted for violating it.
3. False Accusation: A person who has been issued a protected order may falsely accuse you of attempting to contact them in violation of the order. They may also try to arrange a meeting with you in order to make you violate a restraining order. These are some ways a protected person can try to falsely accuse you of violating their protective restraining order.
Working with a Criminal Defense Attorney
Criminal charges can be complex, requiring much gathering of evidence and information. It’s highly advised that you work with an experience criminal defense attorney that will be able to advise you on the best defense.
Working with Sevens Legal, APC
If you or loved ones is accused or charged with any type of crime call us. Let us support and help you during this tough time. Our firm award winning attorneys provides hope and peace of mind. The Sevens Legal, APC office is located in both San Diego and Escondido. We have time and time again helped Southern California residents get their cases dismissed or penalties reduced.
Contact Sevens Legal, APC, today for a free consultation.
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