Domestic violence in California is defined by statute as the actual or threatened act of physical abuse that is committed against a current or former “intimate partner.” The legal definition of domestic violence includes a current or former spouse and a person that the suspect was involved with in a dating relationship.
A conviction for the act of domestic violence in California can result in a fine and/or a prison sentence. California domestic violence laws also give prosecutors the legal power to ask for protective orders that prohibit suspects from interacting with alleged victims.
If you face a domestic violence charge in California, you must take the charge seriously by speaking with a California-licensed criminal defense attorney.
Two Primary Types of Domestic Violence Crimes
California domestic violence laws cover two broad statutes: Domestic battery and inflicting bodily injury. Prosecutors can also bring other types of domestic violence charges that include stalking and issuing criminal threats.
In California, the criminal code defines battery as the act of using illegal force or violence on another person. Domestic battery captures the same definition of general battery, but it narrows the definition to a current or former intimate partner. California criminal statutes punish domestic battery cases much more harshly than cases involving general battery.
A conviction for domestic battery in California can lead to a jail sentence of up to 364 days and a fine not to exceed $2,000. If a judge presiding over a domestic battery case decides to give the defendant probation, the defendant might have to complete a treatment program for the perpetrators of domestic battery crimes. In some cases, a judge requires the defendant to make a financial donation to a local battered women’s shelter or compensate the victim directly for the costs associated with counseling and therapy.
Inflicting Bodily Injury
California domestic violence laws make it a felony for a suspect to cause bodily injury that leads to a “traumatic condition,” which is a wound or injury that is generated by the use of force. This includes violent acts such as slashing, punching, strangulation, and suffocation. A felony conviction for inflicting bodily injury can result in a prison sentence of up to four years, as well as a fine not to exceed $4,000. As with a domestic battery conviction, the judge overseeing an inflicting bodily injury case can issue a ruling that forces the defendant to make payments to a battered women’s shelter and/or compensate the victim for therapy and counseling costs.
As an integral part of California domestic violence laws, the state allows judges to issue protective orders to prevent a victim of domestic violence from threats and harassment. A protective order typically contains clear legal language that tells the alleged domestic abuser to stop harming the victim and to stay away from the victim. For example, a judge might issue a protective order that demands that the alleged domestic abuser stay 1,000 feet away from the victim’s home and place of employment.
Protective orders in California go into a database that is accessed by local jurisdictions that operate throughout the state. Judges have several ways to issue protective orders, including sending a protective order to the suspect’s last known California address.
Violation of a Protective Order
The violation of a protective order carries with it serious punitive consequences. A suspect who knowingly violates a protective order can face a prison sentence of up to one year and/or a $1,000 fine. If a protective order violation involves physically injuring a victim, the judge presiding over the case can order the suspect to spend a minimum of 48 hours in jail. A second violation of a protective order within seven years of the first violation can result in a sentence of up to three years in a California prison.
Schedule a free consultation today with Scott Simmons or Dan Wagner to discuss a criminal charge of domestic violence. You can reach the SimmonsWagner Law Firm at (949) 439-5857.