R. Addison Steele II, Attorney at Law - Criminal defense attorney in Santa Barbara
Domestic Violence Cases
Addison Steele has:
Two domestic violence cases where the client was acquitted of all charges
(Daniel Hudson, who was facing life in prison and Ronnell Bennett who was facing ten years in prison).
Five domestic violence acquittals
(Penal Code § 273.5(a) or (e)(1))
(Daniel Hudson, Ronnell Bennett, David Diaz, Richard Secretan and Gregory Fout).
Four domestic battery acquittals
(Penal Code § 243(e)(1))
(Daniel Hudson, Ronnell Bennett, Richard Secretan and Gregory Fout).
One domestic battery hung jury
(Penal Code § 243(e)(1)) (David Diaz).
     Domestic violence cases are really a unique type of criminal case.  After the O.J. Simpson trial the law was changed to essentially throw the Constitution out the window in order to make it easier for district attorneys to get convictions in domestic violence cases.  Most district attorneys offices have deputy district attorneys that specialize in domestic violence cases.  The cases tend to be a contest between what the complaining witness (the alleged victim) says happened and what actually happened, making a skilled examination of the complaining witness critical.  
     Because of all of those reasons, it is absolutely imperative that you have an attorney that is experienced in handling domestic violence cases and knows the domestic violence evidence statutes well.  It of course helps to have an attorney that has experience beating domestic violence charges.  If you need to hire a lawyer for a domestic violence case, you need a lawyer that has experience with domestic violence trials and that has won many domestic violence trials that have gone before a jury.  I have won five of the seven felony domestic violence trials I have done, and two of those trials were full acquittals where the client was facing life in prison because the domestic violence charges were third strikes.  My record of trial wins in domestic violence cases is unparalleled.
     My domestic violence trial successes include:
Daniel Hudson
  • Daniel Hudson
  • Charges:  Domestic violence with a domestic violence prior (Penal Code § 273.5(e)), five prison term priors (Penal Code § 667.5(b)) and two strike priors (Penal Code § 667(c)&(e)(2)(A)/1170.12(c)(2)).
  • Exposure: Danny was facing thirty years to life in prison.
  • Outcome:  Despite his ex-wife testifying that Danny had beat her bloody sending her to the hospital, the jury acquitted Danny on all charges.  He was found not guilty of domestic violence and all the lesser included offenses.  Danny was immediately released and has lived crime free.
Danny, Addison and the investigator on the case after the verdict
Victor Vazquez
  • Victor Vasquez
  • Charges: Assault with a car (Penal Code § 245(a)(1), hit and run (Vehicle Code § 20001(a)) and a later driving under the influence (Vehicle Code §§ 23152(a)&(b)).
  • Exposure: Victor was facing fifty years to life in prison.
  • Outcome: Despite Victor's girlfriend's testimony that Victor had tried to run her over with his pickup truck, the jury acquitted Victor of all charges accept a conceded unrelated driving under the influence charge. Victor was given credit for time served for the DUI and released from jail. He now runs his own lawn care business.

The Verdict Form and Minute Order where Victor was saved from a life in prison sentence.
Ronnell Bennett
  • Ronnell Bennett
  • Charges:  Domestic violence (Penal Code § 273.5(a)) with a prison term prior (Penal Code § 667.5(b)) and a strike prior (Penal Code § 667(c)&(e)(2)(A)/1170.12(c)(2)). 
  • Exposure: Ronnell was facing ten years in prison.
  • Outcome: Despite his girlfriend testifying that he had hit and injured her, Ronnell was acquitted of all charges, which were domestic violence and all the lesser included offenses, and released from jail.
The verdict forms where Ronnell was found NOT GUILTY on all charges and saved from a possible ten year prison sentence.  Ronnell had a strike prior, so if he had lost even one felony count he had to be sent to prison with a doubled sentence.
Richard Secretan
  • Richard Secretan
  • Charges:  Assault on a police officer (Penal Code § 243(c)(2)), resisting arrest (Penal Code § 69), domestic violence (Penal Code § 273.5(a) and failure to appear in court (Penal Code § 1320.5).
  • Exposure:  Richard was facing five years, four months in prison.
  • Outcome:  Despite his girlfriend testifying that Richard had hit her, a highway patrolman testifying that Richard had hit him, and testimony that court records showed that he had not appeared in court, Richard was found not guilty of assault on a police officer and all the included offenses with that charge, not guilty of domestic violence and the lesser included offense, and not guilty of failure to appear in court.  He was found guilty of resisting arrest, but the judge immediately reduced that charge to a misdemeanor. 
This is the Verdict Form where Richard was found NOT GUILTY of felony domestic violence.
David Diaz
  • David Diaz
  • Charges: Two counts of assault on a police officer (Penal Code § 243(b)), resisting arrest (Penal Code § 148(a)(1)), domestic violence (Penal Code § 273.5(a)) and vandalism (Penal Code § 594(b)(1)).
  • Exposure:  David was facing six years in prison.
  • Outcome:  David was acquitted of both counts of assault on a police officer by the judge and acquitted of the lesser included offenses by the jury.  He was found not guilty of domestic violence by the jury, the lesser included offense was hung ten to two in favor of acquittal and later dismissed by the judge.  David was convicted of vandalism and resisting arrest and sentenced to probation.
Gregory Fout
  • Gregory Fout
  • Charges:  Domestic violence (Penal Code § 273.5(a)), terrorist threats (Penal Code § 422), and domestic battery (Penal Code § 243(e)(1).
  • Exposure:  Greg was looking at a maximum two and a half years in jail.
  • Outcome:  Greg was found not guilty of domestic violence, but was convicted of the lesser included offense of domestic battery, he was convicted of the terrorist threats charge, he was found not guilty of the domestic battery charge, but was found guilty of the lesser included offense of simple assault.  The victory on the most serious charge took a year off of his potential jail sentence.  He was sentenced to probation.
     Questions you should ask an attorney that you are considering hiring for a gang case:
  • Have you done a domestic violence trial before?
  • This question is important because a domestic violence trial involves complex issues because the rules of evidence are different in domestic violence cases.  Domestic violence cases require specialized knowledge and experience and are practically a sub specialization of criminal law.
  • I have done twelve domestic violence trials, seven of which were felony trials.
  • What were the results of your domestic violence trials?
  • This question is important because in domestic violence trials there are so many ways to fight hard and beat the charges.  If an attorney has won domestic violence trials, that attorney has the experience and skills to handle the level of complexity involved in a domestic violence trial.
  • I have won the domestic violence charges in five of the seven felony domestic violence trials I have done, including two trials where my client was facing a life sentence because they were three strikes trials. If you find another attorney that has done the number of domestic violence trials that I have done and has had more successful outcomes than I have and that has beaten domestic violence cases where the clients were facing life sentences, hire that person. If you want the best possible chance of not going to prison and potentially going home when facing domestic violence charges, you should contact me.
  • Do you train others lawyers in your techniques for winning domestic violence trials?
  • This question is important because typically only the leading lawyers in a field are invited to conduct trainings of other lawyers.
  • I was a speaker at the California Public Defenders Association (CPDA) homicide defense training in 2011 to train on my winning trials by humanizing the client method. I have also given that same training at the Riverside County Public Defenders Office, the Riverside County Barristers, the Santa Clara County Public Defenders Office and the San Francisco County Public Defenders Office. I was a speaker at the CPDA homicide defense training in 2012 to train on utilizing a neuropsychologist in a homicide case.
  • How long were the domestic violence trials you've done and how many days of defense did you present?
  • These questions are important because although some cases just call for a short trial, a short trial can also mean that the prosecution was not sufficiently challenged or that no defense was presented. A felony domestic violence trial that lasts two or three court days is reason for concern because it's an indicator that the prosecution is not being thoroughly challenged and a complete defense is not being presented.
  • I have spent 70 court days in domestic violence trials. I have a success rate in domestic violence trials that is really unparalleled.
     If you need to talk to me about a domestic violence case, you can send me an e-mail at rasteele@steeledefender.com or call me at (805) 770-1188.
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