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The California Constitution provides that an accused's right to Trial by jury is a significant right. In a criminal case, the jury must be composed of twelve people (a lesser number of jurors may decide a criminal case charged as a misdemeanor unless the parties agree to a lesser number in open court) who must make make a unanimous finding of guilt in order for the accused to be convicted of the charged offenses.

A jury may be waived in a criminal case only if both the prosecution and defense consent. A case where the jury has been waived is called a bench Trial. There are several phases to a criminal Trial.The first phase is a chambers conference where the attorneys meet the judge and discuss the procedures which will be followed in that particular court. As well, Pretrial Motions (sometimes called In Limine Motions) may be discussed off the record. Typically, the rulings on the Pretrial Motions is placed on the record, which means recorded by a stenographic reporter, sometimes called a court reporter.

In some courts, the proceedings will be audio taped due to bugetary constraints. In courts where the proceedings will be audio taped, the accused (who is now called the defendant) may pay for a stenographic reporter to record the proceedings.

The Jury

Jury selection will commence after the Pretrial Motions have been ruled upon. Typically, a large number of residents of the county will be brought into the court. Jury selection begins with the court questioning prospective jurors in an effort to determine whether any jurors have a substantial hardship if required to serve on a jury.

After the judge has completed questioning the jury panel, the parties will have an opportunity to question the panel in an effort to determine whether a particular juror is biased against the issue or a party. If bias is evident, the party can challenge the prospective juror for cause and ask the judge to excuse the prospective juror from serving on a particular jury. Challenges for cause are made out of the presence of the prospective jurors. It is the judge who must determine whether a prosepctive juror should be excused for cause.

The prosecution and defense each are allowed ten peremptory challenges. This means that either the prosecution or defense may excuse a juror for any nondiscriminatory reason. The expressed goal of jury selection is to arrive at a fair and impartial jury. In truth, each side exercises its peremptory challenges with a view to eliminate prosective jurors who are not perceived as being predisposed to deciding the case their way. If both sides exercise their challenges in this fashion, the extremes of opinion are eliminated and a more neutral jury is selected.


Opening statement is allowed for each side. The prosecution has the burden of proving their case, if they can, beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense may make an opening statement, but is not required to say anything. Procedures allow for the defense to make an opening statement after the presecutor, at the end of the prosecution's case, or not at all. As a practical matter, it is important to make an opening statement which should operate as roadmap for the jury of what the attorney expects the evidence (or an interpretation of the evidence) to establish.

After the opening statement or opening statements, the prosecution will present witnesses and other evidence to prove the charge or charges. When the prosecution has concluded the presentation of their case, the defense has an opportunity to present any evidence it has to establish a defense or diminish the force of the evidence the presecution has presented in its case in chief. The defense is not required to present any evidence. However, as a practical matter the defense will always present evidence to defend against one or more of the charges.

After both the presecution and defense have presented their repsective cases, the prosecution will be given the opportunity to present rebutal evidence. Thereafter, the defense will have an opportunity to present surrebutal evidence rebutting the rebutal evidence presented by the prosecution.


After the presentation of evidence, the judge will instruct on the law that applies to the case. The judge will read from jury instructions which have been created based upon legal principles announced in appellate court decisions. Prior to the jury being instructed on the law, both sides will have met with the judge to discuss the appropriate jury instructions and principles which may or not be applicable to the case which is being tried.

Once the prosecution and defense have presented their rebuttal evidence, closing arugment will occur. As with opening statement and the presentation of evidence, the prosecution will go first. The prosecution will argue that they have proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense will argue that the prosecution has not proven the charges beyond a reasonable doubt and will point to doubt or proof failures. After closing argument, the jury will be read some concluding jury instructions by the judge and the jury will be excused to deliberate.

Jury Deliberation and Conviction

Jury deliberation can be brief or can go on for days or even weeks. The jury is allowed to ask clarifying questions of the judge or to have testimony read back by the reporter. If the jury unanimously agrees that the accused guilty of one or more of the charges, they will inform the judge. If the jury is unable to agree on one or more of the charges, they may so advise the judge. If the jury unanimously concludes the accused in not guilty of the charges, the defendant will be found not guilty.

If the accused is convicted of one or more of the charges, a date will be set for sentencing. Both the prosecution and defense can submit a sentencing memorandum and request the judge to impose a particular sentence. The judge must impose a sentence within the range allowed by law.

Experienced Domestic Violence Lawyer

The stakes are high in a California domestic violence case. A criminal conviction for domestic battery or criminal threats in California may result in jail, large fines, mandatory domestic violence counseling sessions which meet two (2) hours weekly for a minimum of one year, mandatory alcohol education classes, personal conduct orders, stay away orders, temporary restraining orders, and other punishment as provided by Penal Code section 1203.097. For that reason, it is critical that that a person charged with domestic assault, domestic battery, criminal threats or stalking have only a qualified domestic violence defense lawyer to handle the case from the earliest possible moment.

Robert Tayac is recognized as being among the top domestic violence lawyers in California and represents clients in criminal cases related to domestic violence, assault and battery, and applications for and responses to restraining orders. Attorneys, investigators and experts working with this highly specialized law office represent clients in the Northern California criminal courts located in San Francisco, San Mateo Marin, Alameda, Santa Clara, Contra Costa, Sonoma and Napa counties. Additionally, lawyers of this law firm represent clients seeking or defending against temporary restraining orders and no harassment orders before the superior courts of San Francisco, San Rafael, Redwood City, South San Francisco, Napa, Oakland, Palo Alto, Walnut Creek, San Jose and Santa Rosa. The firm accepts only California domestic battery cases, California temporary restraining order actions or California driving under the influence cases.

Contact The Office

An arrest for domestic battery, domestic assault, criminal threats or stalking in California may result in actual jail, large fines, mandatory 52 week batterer's treatment program, mandatory alcohol education classes, and other punishment. For that reason, it is important that you have only a qualified California criminal defense lawyer handling your domestic violence case from the beginning. If you or someone you know has been or may be accused of domestic violence, we invite you to read the information contained in this website and welcome you to call our office and discuss your case with a domestic violence lawyer. If you prefer, you may submit a confidential case questionnaire which will be reviewed by a member of our firm and receive a prompt response.

If you hire Robert Tayac to handle your domestic violence case, you will know your case is being properly handled by a knowledgeable, experienced, and trustworthy California criminal defense lawyer.

Office Locations and Areas We Serve

Mr. Tayac represents clients who have been arrested in the following counties as well as other cities throughout California and can meet clients at one of several office locations in Northern California.


This website is about California’s domestic violence laws and the San Francisco and Bay Area courts. Domestic violence cases in California frequently must be fought. Many people arrested for domestic violence are innocent. A person doesn't have to commit a crime to be taken to jail by the police, especially in domestic abuse cases.

Why Choose Our Firm?

Attorney Robert Tayac Puts a Long, Decorated Career to Work for You
  • Puts Over 20 Years of Experience Toward Your Case

  • Has Trained Other Attorneys in San Francisco

  • Former San Francisco Police Officer & Police Inspector

  • Boasts a Successful Record Achieving the Best Result for His Clients

Contact Us Today

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