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Can I Be Arrested for Domestic Violence During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Across California, law enforcement agencies are reporting an increase in domestic violence cases. This uptick can largely be associated with responses to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Because of the statewide stay-at-home order, more and more people are at home with their family and/or household members – either because they are working or attending classes from home or have been laid off as many non-essential businesses have shuttered their doors.

Unfortunately, these new circumstances have exacerbated stressors and created increased conflict with those living together. With residents allowed to leave their homes only for essential tasks – such as going grocery shopping or doctor's appointments – and with so many places closed, it's hard to walk away from a dispute from a family or household member. Thus, the argument can escalate into an altercation, which can lead to a call to the police.

Are the Police Still Arresting People for Offenses?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to reduce contact with others. The agency has recommended Americans practice social distancing (remaining 6 feet apart from one another) to prevent infected people from getting respiratory droplets on others.

The social distancing recommendation has raised concerns about defendants being held in jail. These facilities are often cramped and don't allow for people to keep 6 feet away from others. This puts inmates and staff at an increased risk of COVID-19 infection.

One way to limit the spread of COVID-19 in jails is to reduce the facilities' populations. As such, some police departments in the nation have implemented policies to reduce the number of arrests. However, this is typically for non-violent offenses or crimes that don't put others or the community at risk. This means that a domestic violence offense can still trigger an arrest.

Additionally, although California may be implementing a $0 bail for some offenses, this applies only to non-violent misdemeanors and felonies and not to those facing domestic violence charges.

What Should I Do If I'm Arrested for Domestic Violence?

If you're arrested for a domestic violence offense, exercise your right to remain silent. Many times, people try to justify their actions or try to argue that they weren't the ones who started the fight and shouldn't be arrested. However, any statements made during or after an arrest can be used as evidence in court. It's best only to give police your identifying information and nothing more.

Contacting a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible is also essential. They can provide advice on how to proceed with your case. And although some California court operations have been adjusted because of the COVID-19 outbreak, it's still important to get started on your defense early on.

If you need experienced legal counsel for your case in San Diego, call the Law Office of George Gedulin at (858) 281-4605 or contact us online.

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