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Investigation of Domestic Violence Cases

Prior to responding to the scene of a reported domestic violence incident, the assigned investigator or police supervisor may direct the officers who are first on scene to render medical aid to anyone who has been injured by directing an appropriate Fire Department, Paramedic and EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) response. The appropriate medical response will depend upon the severity of any injuries.

When the police arrive at the scene of a reported domestic violence incident, they will want to interview the people involved and witnesses separately. Typically, more than one officer will arrive and each officer will interview one of the parties in a separate room. If the area is small, the officers will position the people involved as far apart as practical with their backs to each other. This is done so that the officers take each person's focus off of the other involved party and allow the officers to see each other for officer safety reasons.

After each of the individuals involved is interviewed, the officer will conference and decide what they will do in the incident. Typically, one officer is designated as the investigating officer who will write the main report. Sometimes this is because the officer was assigned to handle the incident by the dispatcher, the geographic area is the responsibility of that officer, it is that officer's turn to write the report if the officers arrived in the same car, or one officer is a better writer than the other and usually writes the reports. California domestic violence law requires the police officers to make an arrest the elements of a criminal domestic violence offense are present.

In San Francisco an investigator from a special unit of the San Francisco Police Department, the Domestic Violence Response Unit, calls the complaining witness and sometimes other key witnesses the day after a domestic violence arrest to take statements during a taped telephone interview. The investigator will ask the complainant to come to the police department to be interviewed and have any injuries photographed. The DVRU also attempts to interview the person who was arrested. No matter what the complaining witness tells the DVRU, or what the arrested person tells them, the case is not going to be dismissed. The district attorney will file the case and seek a domestic violence conviction.

Both cooperative victims and those who do not want to testify against a defendant are referred to counseling at a special victim’s assistance program that is operated by the district attorney’s office. The social workers that work for the D.A. have a strong pro-prosecution bias. The court can order a complaining witness to go to domestic violence counseling if she or he does not wish to cooperate with the prosecution. If the complaining witness still refuses to testify against the defendant he or she might be jailed for contempt, although this is unheard of. See Are Courts Biased? If the police are unable to contact a victim after the case is filed it makes it much harder for the D.A. to obtain a conviction. The prosecution will fly victims back from out of state to testify at the trial. It is an additional crime for a defendant to discourage a victim from testifying and would be in violation of the court restraining orders.

Hiring your own private investigator is important. A domestic violence investigation should be started at least as soon as the interview tapes are obtained. The S.F.P.D. dispatch tape containing the victim’s initial report of an incident should be obtained before it is destroyed. The goal is to preserve statements and physical evidence that can help your case. The police frequently don’t preserve evidence in cases, especially where it might help your defense. If you are injured during the incident promptly document your injuries with photographs and see a doctor. The closer to trial your case gets, the more drastic the prosecution’s facts will become. It is important to take witness statements early before the D.A. conducts follow-up interviews to build a stronger case against you.

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 weekly for one year, mandatory alcohol education classes, personal conduct orders, stay away orders, temporary restraining orders, and other punishment. 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.

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The stakes are high in a California domestic violence case. An arrest for domestic battery, domestic assault, criminal threats or stalking in California may result in actual jail, large fines, mandatory 52 weeek 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

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