Regardless of the circumstances, getting arrested for suspicion of domestic violence is a frightening matter. It can significantly impact all aspects of your life – your family, your job, your routine. If you get convicted, it can wreak havoc on your future as well. Just getting arrested, especially if unexpected, can fill you with uncertainty. Will you face misdemeanor or felony charges, or a combination of the two?
California law views every charge of domestic violence seriously, but some cases are treated as misdemeanors and some as felonies. Each charge can have vastly different ramifications if convicted. The judicial process can be less stressful and you can be more prepared if you understand what you may be charged with.
Misdemeanor v. Felony Domestic Violence Charges – What’s the Difference?
Some types of domestic violence are automatically felonies; some are typically misdemeanors; and some could go either way depending on the underlying facts surrounding the charge. The best scenario would be to have the charges dismissed – and in some cases, a good Central Valley domestic violence defense attorney can help facilitate that. However, if a trial is unavoidable, it is better to face a misdemeanor charge than felony. But, what is the difference?
Misdemeanor charges are considered a lesser offense and carry smaller fines and possible jail time. Some misdemeanors may even carry lesser sentences, such as probation or community service instead of jail time.
Felony charges involve a much higher stake because it can result in higher fines and prison time. Moreover, a felony conviction prevents you from voting, being able to own a firearm, and makes you ineligible to be hired for certain jobs. All in all, a felony conviction can result in a much bigger disruption of your life and family.
A “wobbler” offense means you can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. In these cases, the prosecutor generally decides whether to charge you with a felony or misdemeanor based on different factors, such as:
- Circumstances surrounding the offense
- Prior convictions or lack thereof
- Extent of the resulting injuries
- Amount of evidence surrounding the alleged crime
Common Domestic Violence Offenses and Possible Charges
Below are some specific domestic violence situations and types of charges that may ensue:
- Corporal Injury v. Domestic Battery. If the domestic violence resulted in any type of injury to your partner, the charge will typically be Corporal Injury and considered a felony. However, if there was no sign of injury, you will face misdemeanor charges of Domestic Battery.
- Child Abuse/Elder Abuse. There is a similar standard when there is an alleged offense against a child or an elder co-inhabitant. If there are any signs of injury or severe emotional trauma, the charge will most likely be a felony. Otherwise, it will be a misdemeanor.
- Non-physical types of domestic violence. Most types of domestic violence charges that do not involve physical contact are treated as wobbler offenses. Examples include:
- Criminal threats
- Aggravated trespass
- Damaging a telephone line
Call an Experienced Central Valley Domestic Violence Attorney
If you or a loved one has been the victim of domestic violence or are being accused of domestic violence, you must contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.
For more information or to schedule a complimentary consultation with Central Valley domestic violence defense attorney Gurjit Srai, please call (209) 323-5558, or complete our online form.