WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES
1. Early Intervention is Key
Domestic violence cases are tricky and require immediate assistance with shaping the narrative. A lot of progress can be made by a great attorney contacting the detective before the case is filed in court.
2. Types of Domestic Violence Charges
- 273.5 (corporal injury to spouse)
- 243(e)(1) (spousal battery)
- 422 (criminal threats)
- 594 (vandalism).
Many of these charges can also lead to firearms prohibitions, even as misdemeanors.
3. No Accusation Takesies-Backsies
The most common domestic violence call that we get is “my boyfriend was arrested the other night for hitting me, but now I want to drop the charges.” Unfortunately, it’s not that simple – a complaining witness or victim cannot simply drop the charges once a case is set in motion. The best thing to do at that point is to hire a great criminal defense attorney for the person who was arrested. In cases where the victim is not cooperating with the government, a skilled attorney can get great results, but you need an attorney who is willing to go the distance and answer ready for trial.
4. Beware of Restraining Orders
At the first court appearance, the prosecutor will always ask for a restraining order while the case is pending, and a full stay-away order will be granted, unless the alleged victim is there in court to say that he or she does not want that – then we can argue for a peaceful contact order while the case is pending. That proceeding alone can have a major impact on the case, and on the lives of the defendant and the alleged victim. If a full stay away order is in place, the defendant will have to live somewhere else while the case is pending.
5. Making Sure It Never Happens Again
If there are underlying issues that contributed to the alleged domestic violence incident, we can help our client address them. We regularly connect clients to alcohol and drug treatment, anger management programs, therapists, counselors, mental health professionals, and more. Getting enrolled in a court-approved domestic violence program early in the process can also help the case. Mental Health Diversion and Veterans Diversion programs are available for domestic violence cases.
WHAT CALIFORNIA LAW SAYS ABOUT DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
The California Penal Code makes Domestic violence illegal under sections 243 and 273.5. Domestic Violence includes stalking, abandonment, criminal threats, damaging property of the victim, or causing physical injury to the protected person. Section 273.5, which is the most common of domestic violence across the state and country, states:
“Any person who willfully inflicts corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon a victim described in subdivision (b) is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction, thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to six thousand dollars ($6,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment…”
Subdivision (b) describes the protected victim as:
- A spouse or a former spouse
- A cohabitant or a former cohabitant
- A fiancé/ a former fiancé/ or someone the offender was previously engaged to or in a dating relationship
- A parent to the offender’s child
When applying domestic violence charges, prosecutors will use Sections 243(e) 1) and 273.5 since their implications are relatively similar. The only difference between domestic battery and inflicting corporal injury law is that the former does not require evidence of physical injury. According to section 243, the crime of domestic violence is committed when you willfully inflict force or violence on someone you are currently or was once in an intimate relationship. It should be noted that domestic violence charges don’t only apply to intimate partners. The same law still protects children and the elderly who are under the care of the offender.