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The Pandemic and The Rise of Domestic Violence in California

Steven R. Andrade June 7, 2021

Karina never thought she would see the day where she would be taking her children to escape her husband. Karina and Matt (pseudonyms used to protect their identities) were married for 7 years. They worked, raised their children, and like most couples had the occasional disagreement but neither had ever raised a hand to the other or their children.

In March of 2020, Matt received notice that his office was closing down and that everyone in his office would be working from home. He arrived at his apartment to find Karina and his two children already at home. Karina had been laid off and the children had been released from school. Thus, began the forced high-stress, close-quarters life of the COVID-19 lockdown. Like hundreds of millions of other people around the world, Karina, Matt, and their two young children would have to learn to navigate a life they had never encountered.

After about a month into the pandemic shutdown, the stress began to wear on Matt's patience. He started having a beer at lunch, then two, then beer and wine at his self-imposed happy hour. He maintained so that he could work and attend his Zoom meetings but as soon as he closed his laptop, the drinking began, and soon, he was drunk every day.

Karina noticed the change in her husband and wanted to try and shield her children from seeing their father in that state, so she would take them to the park most days and come home when she suspected he had finally passed out, which was around 7:30 pm. The first day Matt showed signs of violence toward Karina, she had come home from taking the kids to the local park, and when she walked in the door, he yelled for her to come into the bedroom. He accused her of cheating because she is gone all the time. To defend herself, she shot back a comment about his drinking. He grabbed her arm and shoved her onto the bed. He was immediately apologetic and remorseful.

A couple of days later, he called her into the bedroom again. He was angry because someone had moved some things on his desk. She told him that she had draped her clothes over his desk chair that morning when she was getting dressed - perhaps the clothes moved something. Matt grabbed her wrists so tightly she winced in pain. It was mid-afternoon, she could smell the alcohol on his breath. She was worried that his work might start to suffer - then what would they do. He let her go with a shove, but this time he did not apologize.

The volatile incidents became more frequent, he began calling out sick and missing his Zoom meetings. Karina's stress was becoming unbearable. She was afraid he would lose his job, they would lose their apartment, and become homeless, like so many California families because of the pandemic.

Matt eventually lost his job which resulted in him drinking more. The violence and outbursts became a daily occurrence. One day Matt, obviously drunk, told Karina he was taking the kids for a drive. She ran to the table where the keys were sitting and grabbed them before Matt could reach them. Karina pled with Matt not to take their children in the car in his condition. Matt lunged across the room landing a punch to Karina's shoulder, knocking her to the floor. She tightly tucked the keys under her as she fell. To get the keys, Matt jerked her arm up and twisted it until she opened her hand and released the keys. Karina screamed in pain. Their children cried in horror as they watched their father repeatedly hit and kicked their mother while she lay helpless on the floor.

The last straw for Karina was when Matt turned his violence to one of their children. Matt grabbed their son by his arm and threw him onto the floor because the television was too loud. When Karina tried to intervene, he slammed her against a wall, knocking the breath out of her, then went to the kitchen, took a knife out of the drawer, and threatened her life.

As Karina drove away from her home that night, she called 911 and reported her husband. She begged the police not to arrest him, she only wanted someone to help him get treatment, and she had nowhere else to turn. She deeply loved her husband and wanted to keep her family together.

The next morning, Matt was arrested for Penal Code Section 275.3 (a) Domestic Violence and taken to the County Jail.

The District Attorney's Office filed felony charges against Matt for Domestic Violence with enhancements of Great Bodily Injury California Penal Code 12022.7 and Criminal Threats Penal Code Section 422.

Because Matt had no prior record of any kind of violence in his past, and because of the diligent work of his defense attorney, the felony Domestic Violence charge was reduced to a misdemeanor and the enhancements of criminal threats and great bodily injury were removed. Matt served the minimum mandatory jail sentence of 30 days and was placed on probation requiring a year of anger management counseling. Without the expertise of his defense attorney, Matt's case could have resulted in a serious felony, possibly even a felony strike which requires significant prison time.

Matt and Karina's story is playing out in epidemic proportions in Cities, Counties, States, and countries around the world.

The National Institute of Health reports that "due to social isolation measures implemented across the globe to help reduce the spread of COVID‐19, people living in volatile situations of family violence are restricted to their homes. Social isolation exacerbates personal and collective vulnerabilities while limiting accessible and familiar support options (van Gelder et al. 2020)." Financial hardships and isolation created "The Perfect Storm" for those who may have resorted to negative coping mechanisms, such as alcohol or drugs.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys agree that Domestic Violence in California is at record-setting levels since the pandemic lockdown. Not only are the incidents of violence becoming more frequent, but the violence perpetrated on victims is more severe, such as strangulation, violent beatings in the face and head, purposefully burning their significant other, stabbings, attempted murder, and murder.

If you have been accused of Domestic Violence, you will need an attorney. A good defense trial attorney will assess the situation to look at all of the circumstances surrounding the incident.

  • Was the injury to the other person caused by an accident?

  • What is the extent of the injury (cuts or bruising)?

  • Was alcohol or drugs involved?

  • Is there a history of violence or is this an isolated case?

  • Was the defendant acting in self-defense?

  • Was the accusation false?

  • Was the defendant a victim of violence and abuse?

Defense attorneys at Andrade Law Offices have experienced trial attorneys, which is critical because if your domestic violence case has to go to trial, you want someone who knows the law and is confident on their feet in a courtroom. Andrade Law Offices has successfully defended thousands of domestic violence cases. Our clients are grateful for the work that Steven Andrade and his team put into their case to avoid jail, and for helping them get the treatment they need in order to learn how to control their anger.

If you have been arrested for Domestic Violence charges, call Andrade Law Offices. Consultations are always free, and Attorney Andrade will listen to the circumstances of your case, and help you prepare for the next steps.

We are available by email at, by telephone or by text.