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Legal-Guru, Criminal Justice Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Experienced Criminal Trial Attorney since 1998.
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Do I really need a lawyer to defend me in domestic violence

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Do I really need a lawyer to defend me in domestic violence case? I live in California. My wife and I had a fight over small issue and wife called police. We shook each other's shoulders. There was a small bruise on her neck. I admitted that it was my fault when asked by police. Police decided to arrest me. I was bailed out and a court date has been set.

I do not have any prior record of arrest or violence. We both have good jobs, highly educated professionals, and have two small kids (a infant and a toddler). My wife regretted calling police and want to work with me to reduce the damage as much as possible.

Is it important/useful for me to hire a lawyer? Would hiring a lawyer make much of a difference to the outcome (vs me appearing in court alone and simply state what happened)? What's the chance for my case to be dismissed by court, or be judged as an infraction (vs misdemeanor)?
Welcome to JustAnswer.

The simple answer is yes, you need to hire an attorney. First, most courts require you to have an attorney. Second, this is more serious than you think, and the ramifications of a domestic violence (DV) conviction could haunt you the rest of your life particularly given that you are a professional. Even if their would be no ramifications from your current employer, any potential future employer would most likely run a background check and be hesitant to hire someone with that kind of criminal history. It would also prohibit you from every owning a firearm.

You cannot just show up to court talk to the judge and hope he/she dismisses it. That is not possible. Even if they allowed you to proceed without an attorney, all they would want to know would be whether you plead guilty or not guilty. If guilty, you would then be sentenced. If not guilty, then they would set it for a jury trial.

Please do not try to do this without an attorney. You will almost certainly regret it.
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