Oftentimes, issues relating to private life are resolved internally. However, there are certain cases where the government may intervene and regulate such issues. This is because the matters can’t be resolved from within or constitute a fundamental violation of the law.
To put this into context, domestic violence is a common issue relating to private life that requires government regulation. This is because the act itself constitutes a violation of the law and ought to be punished through the criminal justice system.
As such, when a person is arrested and charged with domestic violence, they are likely to be confused. The charge itself is confusing, to say the least. What’smore, the charge is prosecuted aggressively in California and may take the shape of a felony. As such, it becomes imperative for the defendant to understand the nature of the charge and some of the severe penalties associated with the charges.
Here is a brief elucidation of what you need to know about domestic violence in California and how a criminal defense attorney may help you beat the charge.
What is Domestic Violence in California?
The charge is defined under penal code 13700 to mean abuse against a specific category of people. Put briefly, in order for a charge to be classified as domestic violence, the crime must be committed against a family member or a person within close degrees of consanguinity.
In simpler terms, an act against the following may be classified as domestic violence:
- Former spouse
- Fiance or former fiance
- A current or former registered domestic partner
- Girlfriend or boyfriend
In addition, domestic violence is charged when an act is committed between people with an intimate relationship. For example, domestic violence can take place if the victim is:
- The defendant’s child
- Aunt or uncle
- Nephew or niece
Common Domestic Violence Crimes in California
In California, there are multiple types of domestic violence charged. As such, domestic violence can be said to include battery, neglect, abuse, or threats.
The following are some of the different types of domestic violence charges in California :
California penal code 243(e)(1) defines domestic battery as the infliction of force against a spouse or a Cohabitant. What’smore the crime is established through the element of unlawful physical contact. This means that harm or injury to the victim ought not to be present for a domestic battery crime to occur.
Inflicting a corporal injury on a spouse or inhabitant is criminalized under penal code 273.5 of California’s criminal law statute. Oftentimes, the charge is considered a misdemeanor based on the underlying facts and circumstances of the offense. However, under PC 273.5, the charge may be prosecuted as a felony and accompanied by stringent penalties, which include up to four years in California state prison.
Child Abuse typically involves inflicting corporal punishment or injury on the child. This excludes reasonable spanking but tends to focus on any act on a child that results in severe injury or harm to a child. The offense can be found under penal code 273d of California’s statute.
Upon conviction, the potential punishment you are likely to face includes up to one year in a county jail or three years in state prison.
Children are considered one of the most vulnerable members of society. As such, they should be treated with utmost care. California’s criminal law statute, specifically penal code 270, emphasizes this and criminalizes willful neglect of the child. Willful neglect entails failing to provide basic needs and other necessities to a minor child.
If found guilty, you may face up to one year in a county jail or a fine of up to $2,000.
How does The Prosecution treat domestic Violence in California?
Domestic violence is treated as a “wobbler .”This means it can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. However, the classification depends on:
- The circumstances of the offense
- Whether there was an injury
Sometimes, the prosecution may classify an offense based on the defendant’s past criminal record. Noteworthy is that the facts play a crucial role in establishing guilt and determining the nature and classification of the offense. Therefore, it is imperative to consult with an attorney before divulging any critical information to the investigating officers.
When can domestic violence be charged as a felony in California?
As a wobbler, domestic violence may be classified as either a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the facts of the case and the defendant’s prior record. In this regard, there are certain situations where the prosecution decides to classify the offense as felony domestic violence. Such situations include:
If an Individual inflicts Corporal Injury on a Spouse or Intimate Partner
Corporal injury denotes physical injury to a person. The prosecution promptly classified the corporal injury as a felony because of the severity of the offense. Apart from inflicting harm on the victim, it may lead to the development of a traumatic condition.
If the defendant has a conviction record of a crime classified as domestic violence
The defendant’s history is a pertinent issue when determining the classification of the charge. Oftentimes, the prosecution is persuaded into classifying an offense as a felony if the defendant has a prior battery conviction within the past seven years.
If the defendant’s act causes serious bodily injury to the victim
If the person charged with domestic violence causes serious bodily injury to the victim, the offense may be classified as a felony. Whatsmore, the prosecution may look into the nature of the force applied, and if found to be unreasonable and likely to cause great bodily harm, then the charge may be classified as a felony.
Penalties for misdemeanor domestic violence
If your charge is a misdemeanor, oftentimes domestic battery, the potential penalties you are likely to face are a fine of $ 2,000 or serve up to 1 year of jail time in county prison.
Penalties for felony domestic violence
Contrary to s misdemeanor, a felony is prosecuted aggressively. Therefore, the penalties are more likely to be stringent on the offender upon conviction. Oftentimes, the sentencing depends on the gravity of the injury you inflicted on the victim. Furthermore, your criminal record may affect your sentencing in terms of what is commonly known as sentence enhancement.
That said, most felony charges are accompanied by at least four years in prison, while others that are deemed to be more grievous or injuries to public safety may be accompanied by up to 7 years in prison and a fine of up to $ 10,000.
What are the Possible Defenses of a California domestic violence charge?
If you or your loved one is facing a domestic violence charge in California, you will face stiff and aggressive prosecution. Avoiding conviction or dropping the charges should be your priority throughout the criminal proceedings. However, this is not easy, and you may end up serving a lengthy period in prison, especially if you choose to proceed independently.
For this reason, it is imperative to have a criminal defense attorney by your side. Essentially, a competent and qualified criminal defense attorney will help build a robust defense towards ensuring that you are successful. Typically, your criminal defense attorney will invoke certain relevant defenses to your case. Most of these defenses aim to impeach the credibility of the prosecution’s evidence or establish your innocence in court.
That said, the following are some of the relevant defenses to s domestic violence charge in California:
Legal Defense Strategies
Specific legal defense strategies play a crucial role in ensuring that you succeed. Done if the most common legal defense strategies to a domestic violence charge include:
- You were acting in self-defense or the defense of someone
- You are being accused falsely
- The victim’s injuries did not result from your actions
- The victim’s injury was a result of an accident.
- The defendant is being accused falsely.
Typically, to establish the viability of the defense, your attorney will need to demonstrate to the court why a specific defense is relevant or how the prosecution has erred by charging the defendant.
This typically involves negotiating a plea with the prosecution to reduce the classification of the offense to a lesser charge. For instance, if you are charged with a felony domestic violence, an attorney can help you negotiate a plea bargain to a lesser charge classified as a misdemeanor.
Some of the most common offenses where the defendant may be allowed to plead are:
- Criminal trespass
- Disturbing the peace
Noteworthy is that the prosecution may use various strategies to “trick” you into entering into a plea bargaining agreement that doesn’t safeguard your interest. For this reason, it is imperative to have a criminal defense attorney to help you weigh your options and, at the same time, assist you make an informed decision in line with the law.
Facing a Domestic Violence Charge in California? Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney
If you or your loved one is facing a Domestic Violence Charge in California, it is essential to take steps to avoid conviction. Noteworthy is that the charge may be classified as a felony that may result in severe penalties.
However, with a competent and qualified criminal defense attorney, you may succeed in getting your charges dropped altogether or exonerated. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.