If you or your loved one has been detained and is facing domestic violence charges under the California Penal Code 273.5, we invite you to contact the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney. A domestic violence charge can have devastating, lifelong repercussions, and it's wise to contact an attorney as early as possible. Our seasoned domestic violence lawyers will vigorously contest the charges against you for the best possible result, reduced charges, or to prevent you from facing time behind bars altogether. Contact our Los Angeles law firm today for assistance.
California's Definition of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is defined under PEN 13700 as abuse perpetrated against an intimate partner. These rules are intended to prohibit abuse that can be physical or non-physical in intimate or familial relationships.
The term "abuse" is generally used to refer to any deliberate or reckless attempt to inflict bodily harm, sexual abuse, or to put someone in a situation where they have a reasonable fear of suffering imminent serious bodily harm.
Domestic violence is defined by California Family Code 6211 as any abuse committed against one of the following people:
- A former or current spouse
- A registered domestic partner, current either former or current
- A former or current fiancé
- A former or current cohabitant
- Someone with whom the defendant has or did have a child
- A person the defendant is or was formerly involved in a serious dating relationship with
- The accused's child
- anyone else who is a second-degree relative of the defendant through blood/consanguinity or marriage/affinity
What Counts as Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence could also mean the act of purposely intimidating or stalking someone else, or restricting someone from moving around at one's own will. Acts of domestic violence also do not have to be physical for you to be charged. Often incidents of domestic violence entail both verbal abuse, and psychological or emotional trauma. The most crucial thing to keep in mind concerning domestic violence would be that the victim doesn't need to be struck to be considered a victim.
Numerous distinct acts are considered to be domestic abuse per the domestic violence or abuse statutes in California. Physical abuse is a common component of domestic violence. It's crucial to remember that physical abuse doesn't always mean hitting someone; it can also include acts such as pushing, kicking, shoving, hurling objects, or pulling someone's hair.
Common Domestic Violence Crimes
It's important to recognize the many forms of domestic violence. They consist of:
Domestic Battery PEN 234 (e)
Domestic battery crimes are among the most common forms of crimes related to domestic violence in California and are addressed under California's Penal Code 243(e). It is generally described as any intentional and illegal utilization of violence or force against another individual.
To find someone guilty of a domestic abuse charge, the prosecution must demonstrate each of the following facts of the case:
- The defendant intentionally touched another person in a hurtful or disrespectful manner (this is referred to as "simple battery")
- The individual was the defendant's intimate partner
- The defendant was not acting to defend themselves or to defend another person
You can be charged with domestic battery, often known as spousal battery, according to this Penal Code if:
- You employ any kind of force
- Regardless of how minor
- It's not necessary to have visible injuries
The accused victim need not have been hurt in any way for you to be found guilty of domestic battery.
An infringement of this law is classified as a misdemeanor. The penalties for this offense include imprisonment in jail for a maximum of a year, and a $2,000 maximum fine. However, a judge could decide to send the defendant to probation rather than jail.
Criminal threats are defined under California PEN 422 as threats of serious bodily harm or death that are meant to put victims in legitimate and continuous concern for their security or that of their family members.
To legally convict an offender under this legislation, the prosecution must demonstrate the following components beyond a shadow of a doubt:
- The accused allegedly made threats to kill or inflict severe bodily harm on their victim
- The accused threat was delivered verbally, in writing, or through an electronic communication tool by the defendant
- The defendant wanted the purported victim to know that his or her remark was a threat and was meant to be taken that way
- The threat expressed a serious desire that it will be executed because it was so explicit, immediate, uncompromising, and detailed
- The "victim" was truly afraid for their safety or the security of their relatives because of the threat
- The plaintiff's fear was understandable given the situation
California's PEN 422 infractions could be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, based on the gravity of the crime as well as the prosecution's choice of course of action. A felony offense carries a maximum sentence of 3 years imprisonment as well as a fine of $10,000, while a misdemeanor offense carries a maximum sentence of one year in state prison along with a fine of $1,000.
Penal Code 422 felony convictions are regarded as strikes and could be utilized to increase a subsequent sentence.
Harsh punishment or bodily injury to a child below 18 years is considered child abuse, according to California PEN 273d. Child abuse is legally described under California PEN 273d as:
Anybody who intentionally subjects a kid to any severe or inhumane corporal punishment or treatment that causes a traumatic condition. The traumatic condition described here is described as an injury or any other physical injury induced by the forceful use of direct force. The injury could be slight or severe.
This law, which is typically classified as domestic violence, is also called "corporal injury on a minor." When charges of child abuse are made, the word "willfully" in its description is typically the subject of discussion. It makes it evident that the action was intentional and not accidental.
This term is fairly general and can be used in a wide variety of circumstances, including:
- Slapping or hitting a minor in a manner that leaves marks
- Shaking an infant so hard could damage their brain or cause other injuries
- Choking, pushing, or punching a minor
- Intentional burning of a minor with a cigarette
- Throwing something at a minor or maybe throwing the kid themselves
According to the definition in 273d PC, the prosecutors must show that you knowingly subjected the kid to harsh and inhuman treatment for you to be found guilty of child abuse. This shows that it went beyond what is considered reasonable disciplining of the minor, and also that he or she was hurt or traumatized by the act.
Child abuse is considered a wobbler. The prosecution may choose to charge as either a felony or misdemeanor charge depending on certain conditions, for example, the severity of the child's injuries.
If found guilty of a misdemeanor, PEN 273d is punishable by a county jail sentence of one year and maximum fines of $6,000. As a felony, you could face 2 to 6 years in prison (along with an additional 4 years when the accused has a previous felony child abuse charge within the past 10 years) and a maximum fine of $6,000.
According to California PEN 273a, endangering children is a crime. A defendant could be charged with child endangerment if they:
- Willfully allowing or causing a minor to be put in harm's way
- Allows or causes a minor to experience unjustified bodily or emotional distress
- Willfully allowing or causing harm to come to a child who is under their care
This could happen when parents fail to look after their children for a long time. It might also happen if a parent places their child in a setting where drugs are lying around and within the child's reach. To be prosecuted with child endangerment, the child need not suffer any injury.
This criminal act may be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor. The decision to prosecute an offender with a felony or misdemeanor child endangerment case rests solely with the prosecution. The case will often be filed as a felony offense if your actions placed the child at serious risk of physical injury.
When charged as a misdemeanor offense, child endangerment carries the following penalties:
- A county jail sentence of up to a year, or
- A maximum $1,000 fine
This offense can carry the following penalties if prosecuted as a felony:
- State prison sentences of two, four, or six years
- Maximum fines of $ 10,0000
Aggravated trespass is defined under California PEN 602.5 as going into or residing in someone's home without their permission when the resident/guest is present. A violation of California's Penal Code 602.5 makes it illegal to enter or occupy a residential property without the owner's or tenant's consent. Trespassing is charged as a misdemeanor.
Trespassing is punishable by up to six months in county jail or fines of up to $1,000 if nobody was at home. The offense shifts to "aggravated trespass" when the resident/guest is present. The penalty consists of:
- Jail time of up to a year, and/or
- Maximum fines of $1,000
Instead of prison time, those found guilty of aggravated trespass could be subject to 3 years of strictly monitored probation. However, the accused would need to go to counseling.
A restraining order that lasts a maximum of 3 years could be issued against offenders who are found guilty of aggravated trespass. The judge will take into account the following when establishing the restraining order period:
- The severity of the situation
- The possibility of a repeat offense by the defendant
- The security of the plaintiff as well as their family members
Elder abuse offenses are covered by California PEN 368 PC, which is created to safeguard older, more disadvantaged Californians. According to the law, elder abuse is defined as follows:
Any individual who understands or has a good reason to know that another individual is an older or an adult in need of assistance:
- Knowingly causes or lets any senior or dependent individual suffer in a way that is likely to inflict grave bodily injury or death
- Causes them unjustified physical or emotional hardship, or
- Has custody of a senior or dependent adult and deliberately inflicts or allows harm to come to an elder or vulnerable adult's health
- Willfully putting an elderly person or vulnerable adult in a position where his or her safety or health is threatened
Anyone 65 years of age or older is covered by this law, which also includes financial exploitation, neglect, and endangerment.
If the matter is pursued as a misdemeanor offense, those found guilty of breaking this law might face up to one year in county jail as well as fines of up to $6,000 as penalties. Offenders could be punished with a maximum of 4 years in California state prison as well as maximum fines of $10,000 for every count if the matter is pursued as a felony.
The choice to pursue felony charges is at the authority of the prosecution, who will take into account a variety of variables (such as the gravity of the crime and the defendant's past criminal background).
Damaging Phone Lines
In California, there are a few domestic violence-related offenses that don't include physical assault of the victim. For instance, it is illegal to destroy a phone, electricity, or utility line, according to California PEN 591.
This Penal Code 591 charge often relates to those involved in a contentious domestic violence situation. This offense happens when someone intentionally damages phone lines or telephone equipment to:
- Stop the victim from calling 911 to alert the authorities
- Call on others for assistance
To legally convict a defendant under this provision, the prosecution must demonstrate the elements listed below:
- A telephone, telegraph, cable television, electrical wire, or mechanical components attached to the line was illegally taken down, destroyed, broken, obstructed, or destroyed by the defendant
- The defendant acted with malice
Any violation of this provision is considered a wobbler offense. The prosecution could pursue a wobbler as either a felony or a misdemeanor, based on:
- The criminal record of the offender
- The specifics of the matter
According to this code, a misdemeanor charge carries a maximum one-year county jail sentence rather than a sentence in state prison. The maximum jail sentence for a felony charge is 3 years. You should be aware that the court has the power to sentence a defendant to summary or misdemeanor probation rather than to time in jail.
Failure to Provide Care/Child Neglect
California's laws make it a crime for a caregiver to deny care, food, housing, medical treatment, or other remedial treatment to a minor without a justified reason. For the sake of state laws, California considers spiritual or prayer treatment provided by a licensed member of a certified religious organization or church to be "remedial treatment."
The courts must take into account a parent's earnings as well as financial capabilities when examining their actions to establish whether they knowingly or intentionally omitted a child's support or care. Additionally, the state of California enacts legislation to safeguard each child's access to parental assistance.
If a parent declines to allow a minor into their house despite being told to do that by child welfare or a law-enforcement department, the prosecutor could pursue misdemeanor charges under state law.
A parent who intentionally puts a minor in harm's way by putting them in a risky environment or who deliberately subjects a minor to the risk of death, physical pain, or mental anguish is also guilty of child neglect. The prosecution could be able to prosecute the offender with this charge if they let their child remain in a situation where they know the child could be hurt and they do nothing to stop it. The majority of these offenses are misdemeanors.
The following are the penalties for child neglect:
- Imprisonment for up to a year in a jail
- $2,000 in fines
Instead of imposing a jail sentence, a court order that the offender serves a summary/misdemeanor probationary term.
Violating a Restraining Order
A violation of a protection order, stay away order, or restraining order, issued by a court is punishable under California PEN 273.6.
Restraining orders known as criminal restraining orders or CPOs are handed down by the judge overseeing a criminal court case involving allegations of domestic violence. Usually, they are granted in criminal proceedings in California to stop the accused from harassing, mistreating, stalking, or sending threats to the other party. A judge will issue a protective order throughout many criminal cases involving violence or genuine threats of harm.
According to PEN 273.6, the offense is any willful and deliberate violation of a protection order and is considered a misdemeanor offense that's subject to a maximum fine of $1,000, and/or a jail sentence of 1 year.
The sort of behavior that a protection order will aim to prevent will always be determined by the facts of the matter. It will explain and specify the types of actions that are permitted or unacceptable.
Common Defenses For Domestic Violence Charges
Even if you think you are innocent of the charges against you for domestic violence, you still need a skilled criminal defense attorney to defend your constitutional rights. If found guilty, you risk facing the following penalties:
- Prison sentences of up to 4 years
- Fines of up to 6,000
- Compulsory counseling
- Payment of restitution to the domestic violence victim
- Probationary term
- Compulsory community service
These defenses include but are not limited to the following:
You Were Wrongly Accused
Sadly, this happens far too often. False allegations and unjustified arrests happen a lot. An enraged partner or spouse could decide in the heat of the moment to dial 911 to seek vengeance. Law enforcement shows up at your house shortly after, and you could ultimately be taken into custody.
It is much harder to go back in time once things reach this point, therefore you must seek legal representation as quickly as possible. A good defense attorney will hire an investigator to get witness testimonies and transmit any possibly exculpatory material to the authorities or the relevant prosecution agency to avert the criminal charges against you.
Usually, the most crucial work of attempting to avert the charges is completed in the days after your arrest. Therefore, it is critical to retain representation during this pivotal time.
What Happened Was an Accident
This is another common defense for domestic violence charges. It is easy to accidentally shove or strike another person during the heat of the moment. It happened even though you didn't mean for it to.
For instance, both parties could lose their cool, and there may be some shoving and grabbing during the commotion. One partner could accidentally kick the other, but not on purpose, and most definitely not hurt them.
The prosecutor is often faced with onerous problems in proving claims of domestic violence. Often, the accusations of domestic violence were a result of an altercation between the two parties, during which the accused had been acting to defend themselves. A good illustration is when a spouse is compelled to push aside an agitated spouse to prevent getting hit.
A defendant who asserts a necessity defense effectively tries to justify their guilt by demonstrating that they had a compelling enough cause to execute the offense. In the case of a Penal Code 591 offense, the defendant could try to demonstrate that there wasn't any other option available, for instance, due to an emergency, and that as a result, he or she destroyed a line.
Find a Los Angeles Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Near Me
One of the most significant parts of domestic violence accusations is that the prosecution could still file charges even if the victim doesn't wish to. This is just one among the many reasons why you should hire an attorney to review your charges as soon as possible. If you are facing charges of domestic violence in the Los Angeles area, we invite you to contact the Los Angeles Criminal Attorney at 424-333-0943 for a confidential assessment of the particular details of the case — this will help us determine the best defense strategy for you.