Any type of domestic violence is handled seriously under California law. Domestic disputes are not considered a private matter kept between couples or within a family. In fact, law enforcement is more likely than ever before to get involved in domestic violence disputes. In most cases, California prosecutors charge domestic violence offenses as misdemeanors. However, in some cases, they will pursue felony charges.
What is Domestic Violence?
As an initial matter, it is important to understand what constitutes domestic violence and when you can be charged under California law. Domestic violence can only be charged when a specific type of relationship exists between the individual accused of the crime and the victim. The victim of domestic violence must be:
- A spouse or former spouse
- A fiancé or fiancée
- A cohabitant or former cohabitant
- An individual that the accused has had a prior dating relationship or engagement
- The parent of the accused’s child
If none of these relationships can be established, the crime of domestic violence cannot be charged.
Domestic Violence is a Wobbler Crime in California
California considers domestic violence as a wobbler crime. This means that it can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the facts of the case and the accused’s prior criminal history. Additionally, the degree and extent of the victim’s injuries also play a role in determining how to charge a domestic violence crime in California.
The five situations where a prosecutor could charge felony domestic violence include:
- The accused inflicted corporal injury (any physical injury, serious or minor) that resulted in a traumatic condition onto his intimate partner
- The accused committed domestic violence and has some sort of history of battery convictions within the past 7 years
- The accused has a previous domestic batter conviction within the past 7 years
- The accused, as a result of domestic violence, caused serious bodily harm
- The accused committed domestic violence with such that force that is likely to cause great bodily injury
Punishment of Felony Domestic Violence
California law punishes a conviction of domestic violence by:
- Between 2 and 4 years of state prison time; or
- Up to 1 year in county jail; AND
- $6,000 fine
If you had a prior assault or battery conviction on your record within the past 7 years, the punishment could be increased to between 2 and 5 years in state prison or up to 1 year in county jail and a $10,000 fine.
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.