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Domestic Violence Revisite

Dale Gribow Feb. 24, 2015

We all agree that violence of any kind against a spouse or significant other is wrong. However sometimes one party does not realize that what they have done is Domestic Violence. Many people know how to push the buttons of their spouse for instance. They argue and shove their spouse without leaving a mark and then the spouse (usually the man) pushes his beloved back.

Often it is not the spouse that calls the police but someone else who hears the arguing. Once the police roll on the scene they will arrest the perpetrator. Statutory bail of $50,000 will have to be posted.

However, not every Domestic Violence call has merit. Sometimes there are false accusations made by a spouse to gain leverage in a soon to be filed or already filed divorce/ child custody case. Those accusations are usually made by the wife and sometimes they are just used as “banked” leverage for a possible future divorce. Of course most Domestic Violence claims have merit and I by no means condone domestic violence. However we must be aware that false accusations have happened.

I had a case where a couple had rented at the Desert Springs Villas and arrived with their two kids and nanny. They had reservations across the street at Morton’s at 6pm. They ordered a pizza from the same shopping center and requested delivery at 5pm. At 5:15 the husband called to complain the pizza had not arrived and were assured it had left 10 minutes earlier. At 5:30 still no pizza and the husband called again and said put another pie in the oven and he “would pay for both.”

He was assured they would do so and at 5:50 there was still no pizza. Again he called and was advised the delivery boy had left. The husband then called the front desk at the Marriott and explained they were leaving for dinner across the street and wanted to be sure the kids and nanny got food.

They ordered the large” bone in” steak for two but because they were aggravated they did not eat much and asked for a doggy bag. The husband ordered a shot of Louis 13 which was $135 and his wife complained “how can you spend $135 on one shot”. He chugged the drink and left his card for his wife to sign and went to the car.

His wife got there and said “I bet you forgot the friggin doggy bag”. He reached down by his right foot with his right hand and picked up the doggy bag. He intended to show her the bag but instead hit her in the left eye with the “bone in” bag. Her eye began to swell and he kissed it and apologized as they returned to the villa and he went to bed. His wife put ice on her eye and called her best friend in Beverly Hills who was married to a lawyer. Her friend said “in case you ever want to file for divorce it would be nice to have a record of your husband hitting you”. Her friend suggested she call the police to make a report. The wife called the front desk and said I want to contact the police to report my husband hitting me. I just want to make a report and not have the police come out. Of course RSO rolled on the scene and the wife again explained she just wanted a report but her husband was arrested.

Another similar case was a well-respected woman, who was a “cutter”. She called the police and told them her husband hit her over the head with a pot and showed the police the red mark she made. She also explained she did not want her husband arrested but just wanted him out of the house. Again he was arrested with $50,000 statutory bail. The next morning the husband and wife showed up in my office. The wife explained she is a cutter and abuses herself and just wanted her husband out of the home that night and thus hit herself over the head with a frying pan. She was going to pay his legal fees out of her personal business account just as she had paid the $50,000 bail. I asked her to provide a declaration and called my paralegal to take down the info and type it up. The wife read it and said it was correct but wanted to sleep on it. The next morning she called and said if this confession mentioning that she was a cutter surfaced, she would be fired from her job.

I presented the DA with the unsigned declaration my paralegal had typed up along with my paralegal’s declaration that the victim gave this info to us and confirmed it was correct. I included a copy of the wife’s retainer check and bail receipt. My declaration, as an officer of the court, along with that of the paralegal convinced the DA not to file the case.

These are examples but clearly not the majority of the cases that are righteous DV cases. As lawyers we learn to hear both sides before we make a snap judgment.