Domestic Violence

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Assault and Domestic Violence Lawyer

Criminal Defense and Domestic Violence attorney Rhett Bernstein is available to practice criminal law anywhere throughout the state of Oregon, including: Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties; as well as most municipal courts throughout the Portland Metro area. Call (503) 454-6610 for a free initial case analysis.

Oregon does not have separate laws for domestic violence and criminal assault. Domestic violence crimes fall under the same laws which govern general assault. Domestic violence charges will have serious legal, personal, and professional consequences. Some domestic violence convictions are permanent and becomes part of the public record. Assault is considered a violent crime, this includes misdemeanor assault, and will show up on a general background check for employment and rental applications.

As an experienced domestic violence and criminal assault defense attorney, Rhett Bernstein can look at all the facts of your case to determine whether you have any grounds for dismissal of the charges against you, explore plea options, and represent you at your initial hearing and subsequent trial.

The Criminal Defense and Domestic Violence law firm of Rhett Bernstein employs former prosecutors, former law enforcement officers, and former forensic experts. Rhett Bernstein defends clients throughout the state of Oregon; including Multnomah County, Clackamas County, Washington County, and all Portland-area municipal courts in the following counties and cities:

Did you know?

Assault becomes a domestic violence charge when the accused and the victim are family or household members, including:

  • Spouses or former spouses
  • Adults related by blood or marriage
  • Persons who have a child/children together
  • Persons who live or have lived together, or
  • Persons who are engaged or were engaged in a sexually intimate relationship
  • If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior domestic violence conviction and impose a harsher sentence in your new case
  • A convicted felon may lose the right to vote, own a firearm, and certain professional licenses

What Occurs when Police Respond to a Domestic Violence Call?


A domestic violence call to police is typically considered a mandatory-arrest-situation. It is very rare for the police to not take someone into custody in these situations because the law requires an arrest when police have reason to believe that a domestic crime has occurred. When the police are present:

  • Do not admit guilt
  • Do not explain what happened or try to tell your side of the story
  • Do not attempt contact with the other party involved

  • Do not leave the scene
  • Do not resist arrest
  • Do remain silent
  • Do understand everything you say will be used against you
  • Do contact an attorney immediately

No Contact Order

With all criminal domestic violence cases, the judge may execute a No Contact Order when the defendant is released from police custody. This order prohibits any contact with the alleged victim by any means, either direct or indirect (through a third party). This can obviously create a difficult situation for everyone involved. There will be immediate issues regarding child visitation, personal property, and housing. In many situations a No Contact Order can be amended or modified for certain purposes, such as: child care, child visitation, personal belongings, and limited contact for everyday household issues. Rhett Bernstein is experienced in addressing no contact orders and can be a huge asset early on in a domestic violence case.


Whether or not criminal charges will be filed in a domestic violence case is within the sole decision of the prosecutor’s office. The prosecution charges you with domestic violence, not the alleged victim. This means that, in most cases, even when the alleged victim explains that the domestic violence crime did not take place, the court will not simply dismiss the charges. It is imperative to engage with an experienced and well-respected domestic violence attorney like Rhett Bernstein to advocate on your behalf with the prosecutor’s office and the court.


Deferred sentencing programs are in place but are situationally specific and vary case by case, with your personal history being taken into account. Most domestic violence convictions result in a court ordered rehabilitation program, in addition to a variety of consequences, including:

  • Probation
  • Mandatory classes and or counseling
  • Jail time
  • Suspension or loss of your right to own or possess a firearm
  • Financial penalties
  • Loss of visitation and or custody

Prior Domestic Violence Convictions

Domestic violence is an Assault VI (misdemeanor) charge, unless the accused has three or more prior domestic assault convictions or a child was present during the altercation, in which case the the charge will be a Class C Felony.

Clackamas County DUI & Criminal Defense Lawyer | Lake Oswego, Oregon City Attorney

The Value of Legal Representation

Domestic violence defense attorney Rhett Bernstein knows what a detrimental impact these charges can have on you and your family. There are many defenses available in domestic violence situations, including self-defense and the defense of others. Frequently domestic violence accusations are embellished, which is why early communication between Rhett Bernstein and the prosecuting attorney, preferably before formal charges are even filed, will help you reach a resolution quickly.

During the beginning of a criminal domestic violence investigation, the law office of Rhett Bernstein deploys a team of specialists, such as former law enforcement officers and former state crime lab analysts, because we understand the best defense is often an aggressive offense. Rhett Bernstein’s sharp courtroom and trial experience are critically important to successfully navigating your domestic violence charges.

Legal Disclaimer: Nothing on this site shall be taken as legal advice. For advice on a legal matter, contact attorney Rhett Bernstein immediately for a free, confidential, no obligation consultation.

Criminal Defense attorney Rhett Bernstein is available to practice criminal law anywhere throughout the state of Oregon, including: Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties; as well as most municipal courts throughout the Portland Metro area.