Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a very serious crime in California, and prosecutors can be aggressive when it comes to prosecuting someone on domestic violence charges. The penalties for domestic violence have increased over the years as some high profile cases prompted lawmakers to take a harsher stance on this issue. A conviction for domestic violence can have lifelong consequences, including geographic limitations and communications restrictions.

Domestic violence charges in California can involve:

  • Domestic battery
  • Corporal injury
  • Criminal threats
  • Child abuse
  • Child endangerment
  • Elder abuse
  • Violation of restraining order

The penalties for domestic violence will depend on the specific charges involved, the alleged victim, the individual circumstances of the case, and whether the defendant has a criminal history. Domestic violence charges can be misdemeanors or felonies, and the penalties include time in jail, significant fines, probation requirements and “no contact” limitations.

Domestic Battery

Under California Penal Code 243(e)(1), domestic battery is treated separately from simple battery where the alleged victim was or is still an intimate partner. It may be a misdemeanor offense if there is no serious injury involved in the battery.

Corporal Injury to a Spouse

Under California Penal Code 273.5, battery on a current or former spouse, or parent of your child that results in traumatic physical injury may be treated as a misdemeanor or a felony.

Child Abuse

Charges of child abuse, under the California Penal Code, are taken very seriously, and even an innocent person can feel like they are being treated like they’re guilty. Child abuse can involve allegations of physical, mental, sexual, or emotional abuse, as well as neglect. The penalties involved will vary depending on the situation.

Child Endangerment

Under California Penal Code 273a, causing or allowing the endangerment of a child can result in misdemeanor or felony criminal charges. This can include leaving a child in a dangerous environment or inflicting injury on a child.

Elder Abuse

Under California Penal Code 368, abuse of elders, dependent adults and people with disabilities can involve allegations of physical, mental, sexual, or emotional abuse, neglect, and even financial exploitation.

Violation of a Restraining Order

Under California Penal Code 273.6, after a protective order is issued, violation of the terms of that protective order can result in misdemeanor criminal charges, and force the defendant to pay fines and other substantial costs ordered by the court.

Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges

There are a number of available defenses to domestic violence charges. Possible defenses include self-defense, defense of another, or showing that the alleged victim was motivated to falsely accuse the defendant of a crime they did not commit. However, each case is different, and your defense lawyer can help you identify what defenses will give you the best chance to win your case.

Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with domestic violence, you may think that it was all because of a misunderstanding. Often times, people charged with domestic violence will try to contact the alleged victim so that things can be cleared up, but that usually just makes things worse. An experienced California domestic violence defense lawyer will stand by you so you don’t have to go through the process alone. A qualified attorney who has successfully defends their clients facing domestic violence charges can help get criminal charges dismissed or reduced, and keep them out of jail.

Domestic Battery

Description

California Penal Code 242-243(e)(1) defines domestic battery as battery against committed against:

  • a spouse.
  • a person with whom the defendant is cohabiting,
  • a person who is the parent of the defendants child, former spouse, fiancé, or
  • a fiancé, or
  • a person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating or engagement relationship

Battery is defined as any willful and unlawful use of force or violence upon the body of another.

To be convicted of domestic battery the following must be true:

  1. The defendant committed battery; and
  2. The victim currently has, or previously had an intimate relationship with the defendant.

Penalties

Penalties for domestic battery include a misdemeanor charge that can result in a fine not to exceed $2,000 and/or by imprisonment in a county jail for a maximum of one year.

Examples

A husband and wife are in a heated argument. The husband says he needs to leave for work, but the wife tries to stop him and pushes him away from the door. The wife can be charged with domestic battery, no matter how lightweight the touch, because she applied force

A couple is working on home repairs over the weekend. One man is on the ladder fixing a wall when his partner accidentally tips over the chair he was moving, which hits the ladder and causes the man to fall and break his wrist. The partner cannot be charged with domestic battery because his action was not intentional or willful.

Corporal Injury

Description

California Penal Code 273.5 defines corporal battery as the willful infliction of corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim who is:

  • The defendant’s spouse or former spouse; or
  • The defendant’s cohabitant or former cohabitant; or
  • The mother or father of the defendant’s child.

Traumatic condition is defined as a condition of the body, such as a wound, external or internal injury, including, but not limited to, injury as a result of strangulation or suffocation, whether of a minor or serious nature, caused by a physical force.

To be convicted of domestic battery the following must be true:

  1. The defendant committed battery; and
  2. The victim is related to the defendant as outlined above.

Penalties

Penalties for corporal battery include a felony charge, and imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year. The penalties also can include fines of up to $6,000.

Examples

A husband and wife get into an explosive argument over spending on their shared credit card for the last month. The husband grabs his wife by the shoulders and throws her down, breaking her arm. The husband can be charged with corporal battery.

A man goes to a bar with his live-in girlfriend. She engages with another patron at the bar which makes the man jealous. The woman, angry at his jealousy, throws a rock at his car as he drives away, causing him to swerve and hit another oncoming car. The accident seriously injures the man and results in broken ribs. His girlfriend can probably be charged with corporal injury.

Criminal Threats

Description

California Penal Code 422 defines a criminal threat as Any person who willfully threatens to commit a crime which will result in death or great bodily injury to another person, with the specific intent that the statement, made verbally, in writing, or by means of an electronic communication device, is to be taken as a threat, even if there is no intent of actually carrying it out.

To be convicted of a criminal threat the following must be true:

  1. The defendant willfully made a specific threat of bodily harm towards another person;
  2. The threat was made verbally, or in writing, or by means of electronic communication (like via e-mail or texting); and
  3. The threat causes the victim to fear for his or her personal safety, and/or the life of his or her immediate family.

Penalties

Penalties for a criminal threat can result in a charge of either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime.

A charge of a misdemeanor can result in imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year, or a fine not to exceed $1,000, or imprisonment combination of the two.

A charge of a felony can result in imprisonment in the state prison for up to three years, or a fine up to $10,000, or both a fine and imprisonment.

The use of a deadly weapon can increase imprisonment for up to one year.

A charge of a criminal threat will count as a strike towards California’s Three-Strikes law.

Examples

A husband, in an ongoing argument with his wife, buys a gun and tells his wife that he is going to kill her one day. The husband probably could be charged with a criminal threat.

A wife accidentally drops her husband’s new watch on the tile floor, and he waves his fist in the air in frustration. The husband probably can’t be charged for a criminal threat because an aggressive gesture does not qualify as the type of threat specified in “criminal threat.”

Child Abuse

Description

California Penal Code 11165.6 defines child abuse or neglect as injury or death inflicted by other than accidental means upon a child by another person, sexual abuse as defined in Section 11165.1, neglect as defined in Section 11165.2, the willful harming or injuring of a child or the endangering of the person or health of a child, as defined in Section 11165.3, and unlawful corporal punishment or injury as defined in Section 11165.4.

Child abuse or neglect does not include a mutual affray between minors, nor does it include an injury caused by reasonable and necessary force used by a peace officer acting within the course and scope of his or her employment as a peace officer.

Unlike child endangerment, child abuse must directly result in physical abuse

To be convicted of a child abuse the following must be true:

  1. The defendant willfully and intentionally inflicted physical harm on a child; and
  2. The injury inflicted resulted in a traumatic physical condition.

Penalties

Penalties for child abuse very widely depending on the specifics of the case. In California, child abuse can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.

If charged as a misdemeanor, child abuse can result in a maximum imprisonment of one year in county jail, and fines not to exceed $6,000. The charge can also result in informal probation and a protective order against you.

If charged as a felony, child abuse can result in two, four, or six years in state prison, and fines of up to $6,000. The charge can also result in formal probation in addition to any terms of a misdemeanor charge.

A prior conviction can increase penalty terms

Examples

A ten–year-old comes home late from school because he stopped at his friend’s house on the way home. His father is angry at him for staying out late, beats him, and causes his son serious bruising and a sprained wrist. The father can be charged with child abuse.

Child Endangerment

Description

California Penal Code 273a defines a child endangerment as willfully causing or permitting:

  • Injury to a child,
  • Physical pain,
  • Mental suffering, and/or
  • Permitting a child to remain in a dangerous situation

Unlike child abuse laws, child endangerment laws do not require physical injury occur to the child. However, physical abuse is covered under this umbrella as well.

To be convicted of child endangerment the following must be true:

  1. The defendant willfully caused or permitted any child to suffer, or
  2. The defendant inflicted unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering on a child, or
  3. The defendant willfully caused or permitted a child under their care or custody to be injured, or placed in a situation where his or her person or health is endangered, or
  4. The defendant willfully permitted a child to suffer, or inflicted unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering.

Penalties

A child endangerment charge can result in a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the circumstances of the case and the degree of injury inflicted.

If child endangerment is charged as a misdemeanor, in the penalties include up to six months in county jail, fines up to$1,000, informational probation, child abusers treatment, and a protective order against.

If child endangerment is charged as a felony, in the penalties include up to six years in state prison, fines up to $10,000, formal probation, and a strike against the offender in California’s Three-Strikes law.

Examples

Two parents recently bought a rifle and left it on the floor of their bedroom when they went grocery shopping. Their 8-year-old was home alone at the time, found the rifle, accidentally pulled the trigger, and was seriously injured. The parents can be charged with child endangerment for not protecting their child from the possibility of harm.

Elder Abuse

Description

California Penal Code 368 defines elder abuse as any person who knows or reasonably should know that a person is an elder or dependent adult and willfully causes or permits any elder or dependent adult to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or willfully causes or permits the person or health of the elder or dependent adult to be injured, or willfully causes or permits the elder or dependent adult to be placed in a situation in which his or her person or health is endangered.

To be convicted of child endangerment the following must be true:

  1. The defendant causes or allows harm or suffering on an elder or dependent adult; and
  2. The defendant knew, or reasonably should have known, that the individual was an elder or dependent adult.

Penalties

Elder abuse can result in imprisonment in a county jail for a term not to exceed one year, or by a fine up to $6,000. The defendant could be charged the fine and required to be imprisoned. Also, the defendant may be remanded to  a state prison for two, three, or four years.

Examples

A man hired an in-home nurse to care of his elderly father. When he visits his father, he finds him covered in bedsores and barely able to speak because of over-medication. The in-home nurse can probably be charged with elderly abuse.

Violation of Restaining Order

Description

California Penal Code 273.6 defines a violation of restraining order as an intentional and knowing violation of a protective order.

There are four types of protective or restraining orders in California:

  1. Domestic violence restraining order
  2. Elder or adult abuse restraining order
  3. Civil harassment restraining order
  4. Workplace violence restraining order

To be convicted of violation of a restraining order the following must be true:

  1. The defendant had an active protective order against him or her;
  2. The defendant understood and was aware of the protective order;
  3. The defendant willfully and purposefully broke the protective order.

Penalties

A violation of restraining order charge can result in a charge of a misdemeanor or a felony.

If the violation of a restraining order is charged as a misdemeanor, it can result in up to one year of imprisonment in county jail, fines not to exceed $1,000, or both imprisonment and fines.

If the violation of a restraining order is charged as a felony it can result in up to three years in state prison, fines not to exceed $10,000, or both.

*It is illegal to possess, acquire, or own a gun if you have an active restraining order against you.

Examples

A woman has a restraining order on her ex-husband after he attacked her and their child and, one day he shows up at her house and attempts to come in and talk. The man can be charged with violating a restraining order.