The primary concern for most people who were arrested for domestic violence is the penalties they will face if convicted.
California domestic violence cases include a wide range of different charges and penalties. Most cases are filed as a misdemeanor offense, but the more serious cases can be filed as a felony.
Under California law, there are specific requirements for anyone convicted of a domestic violence crime and a lot of collateral consequences that are directly connected to that conviction.
For many domestic violence crimes under California law, the prosecutor has the discretion to file the case as either a misdemeanor or a felony, known as a “wobbler.” The decision is normally based on the:
- level of harm to the victim,
- use of a weapon,
- defendant's criminal history, and
- other aggravating factors.
The term “domestic violence” is used to describe crimes where someone uses some form of physical force against certain people and their relationship to the defendant.
It includes a spouse or former spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, children, cohabitant, family members, anyone who defendant has a child with, and more.
The most common domestic violence charges include domestic battery under California Penal Code 243(e)(1), child abuse under Penal Code 273(d), and corporal injury to a spouse under Penal Code 273.5.
To give readers a better understanding of domestic violence penalties, we are providing an overview below.
Domestic Violence Mandatory Conditions – PC 1203.097
California Penal Code 1203.097 describes specific sentencing requirements after a defendant has been placed on probation for domestic violence.
Under PC 1203.7, defendants sentenced for domestic violence must be placed on probation for at least three years. Also, the court is required to issue a criminal protective order that protects the victim from:
- further acts of violence,
- abuse, or
The court could issue a “level one” protective order that would allow peaceful contact with the victim, but might require a full stay-away no contact order prohibiting any type of contact with victim.
Penal Code 1203.097 requires a $500 fine that can be reduced based on ability to pay. The victim must also be informed of the disposition of the case.
The defendant will also be required to complete a 52-week batterers' intervention program and complete community service hours or even some jail time as a condition of probation.
Any defendant who is not placed on probation could serve up to one year in county jail for a misdemeanor conviction, or up to three years in a California state prison for a felony.
Common Domestic Violence Crimes and Penalties
The most common California domestic violence crimes are domestic battery, corporal injury, criminal threats, and child abuse. Some of these crimes are filed as a misdemeanor, but others are a felony.
Most domestic violence crimes are a “wobbler” that can be filed as a misdemeanor or felony. The prosecutor will base their decision on the specific circumstances of the case, level of victim's injuries, and the defendant's prior criminal record. there are some filed as a felony.
Below is a list of the common domestic violence crimes and penalties.
California Penal Code 243(e)(1) domestic battery is described as inflicting force or violence on an intimate partner, but there is no requirement of any visible injuries. Domestic battery is a misdemeanor crime that carries up to one year in a county jail, and fine up to $1,000.
California Penal Code 273.5 corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant is described as inflicting harm that results in a physical injury to an intimate partner. This is a “wobbler” and the penalties can include up to one year in a county jail, or up to four years in a California state prison for a felony.
California Penal Code 422 criminal threats is described as threatening someone with serious harm and also a wobbler that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor criminal threats carries up to one year in county jail. A felony criminal threats carries up to four years in prison and a “strike” under California's “Three Strikes” law.
California Penal Code 646.9 stalking is described as repeatedly harassing or threatening another person to a point where they are in fear of their own safety, or safety of their immediate family. Stalking is also a wobbler carrying up to one year in county jail for a misdemeanor, or up to three years in state prison for a felony.
California Penal Code 368 elder abuse is described as inflicting physical or emotion abuse, neglect or endangerment on a victim 65 years or older. PC 368 is another wobbler that carries up to one year in county jail for a misdemeanor, or up to four years in a California state prison for a felony.
California Penal Code 273d child abuse is described as inflicting corporal punishment or injury on a child, but excludes a reasonable spanking. This is another wobbler that carries up to one year for a misdemeanor or up to three years in state prison for a felony.
California Penal Code 273a child endangerment is described as willfully allowing a child in one's custody to suffer harm or have their safety endangered. If the child is at risk of great bodily injury (GBI), it's a wobbler, but normally a misdemeanor that carries up to six months in a county jail.
Other domestic violence crimes include:
- California Penal Code 591, damaging a telephone line,
- Penal Code 601 aggravated trespass, and
- Penal Code 647(j)(4) revenge porn.
Collateral Consequences of Domestic Violence
Anyone convicted of domestic violence in California could also face numerous life-changing collateral consequences. Most domestic violence cases are considered a crime involving moral turpitude.
If you are an undocumented immigrant, then a domestic violence conviction could lead to deportation from the United State, or a denial of naturalization.
Also, a domestic violence conviction means you will lose the right to own or possess a firearm. A misdemeanor conviction will result in a 10-year firearm ban. A felony conviction will result in a lifetime firearm suspension under federal law.
A domestic violence conviction could also have major consequences of certain types of employment.
For example, it can result in a professional license suspension or a revocation.
If you have been accused of any type of domestic violence offense, call our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys to review the details and options.
Eisner Gorin LLP is a top-rated criminal defense law firm located at 1875 Century Park E #705, Los Angeles, CA 90067.
We also have an office located in the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles County at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401. Contact us for a consultation at (310) 328-3776.