How Can a Domestic Violence Conviction in California Affect My Life?
Domestic violence is one of the most commonly prosecuted crimes under California’s criminal law provisions. Our criminal defense law firm has represented numerous individuals who are charged with either misdemeanor or felony-level domestic violence offenses.
Domestic violence crimes are considered serious in California criminal courts and anyone convicted will normally face long-term consequences. Most don’t realize the extent of the penalties and collateral consequences they can face.
A domestic violence incident could result in a misdemeanor charge and it’s defined as an attempt or threat to use physical force against an intimate partner. Also, a domestic violence incident can result in a felony charge depending on the level of injuries sustained by the victim and is it carries severe penalties.
Before you decide to accept a plea bargain, you need to be aware there are many unexpected consequences after a conviction. The collateral consequences of a domestic violence can affect where you live and where you are employed.
For example, the judge might order that you can’t enter the home and you will be forced to find another place to live, which can clearly create a financial hardship. A domestic violence can conviction can also have an impact on your ability to achieve a promotion at work as it will appear in a background check.
One of the common questions we receive from defendants as well as their family members and loved ones is what lasting effects a domestic violence conviction in California court will have on the defendant. Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers will describe how a California domestic violence conviction can affect your life.
Common Consequences of Domestic Violence Conviction
Keep in mind that every case is different and the outcome will depend on the specific facts and circumstances of the case as well as the available legal defenses.
If you, or someone you know, has been arrested for, is charged with, or has been convicted of domestic violence, contact our law firm directly for an initial consultation to discuss your specific needs. All criminal convictions carry a possibility of jail time as well as other consequences such as probation, community service, community labor, payment of fines, and other conditions.
Some specific features differentiate domestic violence sentences, however. The court will almost always impose a domestic violence counselling course on the defendant which is court-approved.
The court will also impose a domestic violence-specific fine which must be paid. Taken together, these obligations are quite expensive. One of the most immediate effects that a domestic violence conviction has on a defendant therefore is possible financial hardship.
Domestic violence convictions are often accompanied by criminal protective orders, a form of restraining order. These prohibit any type of contact with the victim. These orders can last as long as 10 years from the date of the defendant’s conviction.
If the parties have already separated, this type of stay-away order may not pose much of a hardship. In other cases, however, the defendant intends to stay in a relationship with the victim and vice versa, particularly if they share minor children.
The imposition of the criminal protective order can be very disruptive to family dynamics in these situations. The defendant may want to work with defense counsel to petition the court to modify the terms of the protective order. Anyone found to be in violation of the restraining order can be charged with a new crime under California Penal Code Section 273.6.
Loss of Gun Rights
Domestic violence convictions also result in limitation or loss of the right to own a firearm both under California state law and United States federal law.
While the area of gun rights is nuanced, in general any felony conviction including a domestic violence felony conviction will result in a lifetime firearm ban. This extends to ammunition, ammunition-feeding devices, and other firearm-related items.
Even in the case of a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence, however, a 10-year firearm ban is common. This differentiates domestic violence misdemeanors from most other misdemeanor convictions, which have no effect on ability to own or possess a gun.
Domestic violence convictions may also result in adverse immigration consequences. Many individuals have been denied citizenship, naturalization, re-entry into the United States.
Other immigration benefits or have been subject to deportation and removal proceedings from the United States as a result of a domestic violence conviction, which is considered a crime of moral turpitude.
Domestic violence incidents that could impact immigration include domestic battery, corporal injury on spouse, child abuse, false imprisonment, child endangerment, stalking, and violations of a restraining order.
Expungement or Reduced Charge
While these effects on the life of a defendant convicted of domestic violence in California are serious, in many cases there are opportunities to repair the criminal record of a defendant through the expungement process or through a reduction of a felony-level offense to a misdemeanor pursuant to Penal Code Section 17b.
For first-time offenders who avoid jail time and perform well on probation, it is often possible to reverse some of the negative consequences of suffering a domestic violence conviction. Some of the consequences, however, are permanent.
What relief if any is available to the defendant post-conviction will depend largely on the terms of the negotiated plea agreement, in the case of defendants who settle their cases prior to trial, and primarily on the defendant’s performance on probation.
If affirmative obligations are not met, or the defendant suffers a second or subsequent arrest for domestic violence or another crime while on probation, the chances of later having the domestic violence offense reduced or expunged drop dramatically.
Los Angeles Domestic Violence Lawyer
Given the seriousness of a domestic violence conviction, including potential employment consequences, anyone charged with domestic violence should prioritize retaining experienced criminal defense counsel to evaluate their case.
Through the process of prefiling intervention, a domestic violence arrest does not necessarily need to result in a domestic violence charge, much less a domestic violence conviction. Experienced representation focused on protecting your rights is a substantial factor in obtaining the best possible outcome in your particular case.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a top-rated criminal defense law firm located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067. Our main office is next to the Van Nuys Courthouse at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401. Contact us for a consultation at (310) 328-3776.