In the latest statistical year, 2019, the California Department of Justice reports there were 161,123 calls to police for incidents of domestic violence. These incidents were almost evenly split between violence with no weapon, 85,995, and violence with a weapon, 75,128.
In Los Angeles in 2019, 36,707 calls were made, but incidents with weapons (28,715) far outweighed those without (7,992). It should be noted, however, that weapons include one’s hands and feet. More serious knife attacks outpaced firearm threats at 1,049 to 379.
Regardless of how domestic violence occurs, even if you just intimidate or threaten an intimate partner, you can be served with a Domestic Violence Restraining Order (DVRO). Depending on the level and type of violence, you may also be charged with a misdemeanor or felony and face prison time.
If you’ve been charged with domestic violence in or near Los Angeles, California, call me at the Law Office of Alec Rose, PC. I have 25 years of experience as a criminal defense attorney fighting for people’s rights in domestic violence and sexual abuse cases.
Definition of Domestic Violence in California
California Penal Code 13700 defines domestic violence as abuse committed against an intimate partner. Partners include current and former spouses, current or former domestic partners, current or former fiancés, former or current live-in romantic partners, a person with whom you’ve had a child, and anyone you are seriously dating or have seriously dated in the past.
Acts of domestic violence can include:
Emotional abuse or intimidation
Verbal abuse, including threats or coercion
Domestic violence in California is covered by various statutes leading to various possible punishments. It is also considered a “wobbler” offense, which, depending on severity and circumstances, can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
When a domestic spat leads to the willful and unlawful use of force, the perpetrator can be charged under Penal Code 243(e)(1) with domestic battery. Domestic battery is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and/or a one-year jail term.
Considered even more serious is “corporal injury” under Penal Code 273.5. Similar to domestic battery in that it requires the use of force, corporal (bodily) injury must also result in a visible physical injury. PC 273.5 is a felony punishable by a fine up to $6,000, plus one year in county jail, or up to four years in state prison.
Possible Penalties for Domestic Violence
In addition to restraining orders and the specific crimes of domestic battery and corporal injury, if you are charged with domestic violence, several possible consequences are on the table, including:
Probation of up to three years
Loss of gun rights during probation
Fines, court fees, and possible jail time
A year-long “batterers” treatment program
A protective order restricting your access to the complainant
A permanent mark on your criminal record
The last consequence can be far-reaching. Your criminal record could hinder or even prevent you from obtaining housing or employment, to say nothing of the public censure and embarrassment that may ensue. Loss of child custody and gun ownership rights can also result.
As mentioned, domestic violence charges can “wobble” between being a misdemeanor and a felony. A felony conviction can lead to more serious consequences, as noted under corporal injury. A court may upgrade a domestic violence incident to a felony if the following conditions are met:
The victim suffered serious injuries
A child witnessed the domestic violence
The domestic violence involved the use or threatened use of a dangerous weapon
The offender has been convicted of domestic violence in the past
Possible Legal Defenses
Some of the more common legal defenses include pinning the injuries on an accident; claiming the injuries did not result from the defendant’s actions; and asserting that the defendant’s actions were in self-defense or in defense of another person.
Commonly, the defendant will also claim to be falsely accused because of anger or jealousy, or in an attempt to gain the upper hand in divorce or child custody proceedings.
Working toward a plea bargain to a lesser offense, such as criminal trespass or disturbing the peace, can lead to several advantages, including retaining gun ownership rights and not losing child custody rights.
Trust Me as Your Domestic Violence Attorney
Domestic violence is a serious charge in California, with far-reaching — or even permanent — consequences. Don’t hesitate in obtaining immediate legal advice and representation from an experienced domestic violence attorney.
For 25 years, I have been helping clients involved in domestic violence charges. I will listen to your story, assess the facts, and work with you to create a legal strategy to establish your innocence or get your charges reduced. Also, if you have a hearing upcoming for a DVRO (restraining order), contact me to represent you.
If you’re in the Los Angeles area, or in neighboring counties of Santa Barbara, Ventura, Orange, or San Bernardino, contact me at the Alec Rose Law Office immediately to discuss your case.