Domestic violence, as its name suggests, is violent behavior within a household. Often, domestic violence occurs between family members or any other type of intimate relationship. California has many laws that deal with domestic violence. Different laws deal with different relationships and with different types of behavior. For example, there are specific laws dealing children and other laws for spouses. Each form of domestic violence law has its own penalties to reflect the severity of each offense. However, all types of domestic abuse and violence are serious crimes and are punished as such.
With a team of well-trained and highly experienced attorneys, Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer is ready to help with any domestic violence offense. We can also provide top-notch service and a sense of professionalism. Once we have reviewed your case, we can get started on discussing a defense that works for you. Also, we aim to provide a friendly service, because we know that facing any kind of criminal charge can be difficult to handle on your own.
What Relationships are Considered in Domestic Violence Cases?
When it comes to domestic violence cases, it is paramount to understand that these types of laws apply to specific relationships; hence, the “domestic” aspect of the offenses. Often this indicates individuals like children, spouses, and other family members. This includes:
- Children and grandchildren
- Siblings and step-siblings
- Parents and grandparents
- Aunts and uncles
- Nieces and nephews
Also, the law often states that these laws can apply to individuals with which you have an “intimate” relationship. This can be made to include individuals such as:
- A spouse or former spouse
- A domestic partner or former domestic partner
- A fiancé(e) or former fiancé(e)
- A co-inhabitant or former co-inhabitant
- The mother or father of a shared child
- Someone from a dating, or former dating, relationship
Types of Domestic Violence Offenses
When it comes down to determining what type of domestic violence has occurred, it will rely on what type of violent actions have been made and what the relationship is between the perpetrator and the victim. There are a variety of types of domestic violence offenses in California and each comes with its own set of elements as well as penalties. General domestic violence offenses and the possible penalties are listed to provide an overview of this field of law.
General Domestic Violence
Some of the most general types of domestic violence offenses include corporal injury and domestic battery. These offenses describe situations in which either physical, or non-physical, violence is inflicted upon a spouse, a co-inhabitant, or any other individual with which there is an intimate relationship.
Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Co-Inhabitant – PC 273.5
As written out by PC Section 273.5, it is a crime to willfully inflict injury upon an intimate partner of any type.
In California, it’s a felony offense. For a first offense, the punishments include up to one (1) year in county jail. For a second or more offense, the punishments include two (2), three (3), or five (5) years in a state prison. Both may also include a maximum fine of $6,000.
Domestic Battery – PC 243(e)(1)
Under PC Section 243(e)(1), it is a crime to inflict any type of force or violence upon an intimate partner. Domestic battery differs from corporal injury in that there does not have to be any visible sign of violence upon the victim’s body.
Domestic battery is a misdemeanor offense in the state of California. As such, the possible punishments include a max. jail time sentence of one (1) year, a max. fine of $2,000, or both. Probation may also be granted in some cases on the condition that the defendant attends a batterer’s program.
Children & Elderly People
Children and the elderly are the most vulnerable people in society. Because of this, domestic violence incidents that involve either is considered an even more serious crime. In California, there are separate types of offenses that involve these groups. Each law comes with its own set of possible punishments.
Child Abuse – PC 273d
As described by PC Section 273d, it is a crime to use cruel and unusual punishment or inflict corporal injury that causes a traumatic condition upon a child.
This is a felony offense in the state of California. The possible punishments include between one (1) and six (6) years of jail time, a max. fine of $6,000, or both. Sentencing may also be enhanced due to certain circumstances or details of the case.
Child Endangerment – PC 273a
Child endangerment, as defined by PC Section 273a, is the criminal act of allowing a child to inhabit a space with conditions that could potentially cause harm or death to the child. Even though the child may not actually be harmed, the mere potential for harm is enough for a child endangerment charge.
As a wobbler in California, it can be prosecuted as a felony or a misdemeanor dependent on the details of the case. The possible punishments include a sentence of one (1) year of jail time, or between two (2) and six (6) years in prison.
Child Neglect – PC 270
Under PC Section 270, it’s considered a crime to unlawfully fail to provide the proper necessities, like food, shelter, clothing or medical attention, to your child. This is considered child neglect. This type of offense covers incidents in which a parent, or another form of legal caretaker, fails to provide these proper necessities to their child without a lawful excuse.
This offense is usually charged as a misdemeanor in California. As such, the possible punishments include a fine of $2,000, up to 1 year in jail, or both.
Elderly Abuse – PC 368
Elderly abuse, as defined by PC Section 368, is knowingly allowing a senior, or other types of dependent adult, to endure situations that may cause harm or even death. This offense can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, financial abuse, neglect, abandonment, or endangerment. As with a child, elderly individuals receive special protections and considerations under California law due to their vulnerable position in society.
Elderly abuse may be charged either as a misdemeanor or felony in California. If charged as a misdemeanor, the possible punishments include one year of jail time, a max. fine of $6,000, or both. If a felony, possible punishments include up to two, three, or four years in prison, max. fine of $6,000, or both
Besides more obvious domestic violence offenses, such as battery or abuse, there are other types of offenses that may be included that describe threatening behavior. Sometimes, domestic violence may not occur physically, but through other means such as online or over the phone. Also, certain menacing behavior, such as stalking or making threats, must be considered within the realm of domestic violence especially if perpetrated against a family member or an individual with which you have an intimate relationship.
Criminal Threats – PC 422
Under PC Section 422, it is considered illegal to make threats presenting physical harm or death against another person. Criminal threats can be made verbally, in writing, or through an electronic communications device, such as a cell phone. It is still unlawful to make threats even without the intention to actually carry them out. This offense may be related to domestic violence cases if criminal threats were made to a family member or an individual with which you have an intimate relationship.
This type of offense may be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor. As a misdemeanor, possible punishments include a sentence of one year of jail time, a hefty fine, or both. As a felony, punishments include up to four (4) years in state prison, a hefty fine, or both.
Stalking – PC 646.9
It’s a serious offense to stalk another individual, as outlined by PC Section 646.9. The law describes the act of stalking as willfully and maliciously following and/or harassing another individual and making threats to that individual that present a potential danger. This may be charged within the realm of domestic violence if the stalker follows and harasses a family member or another individual with which he or she has an intimate relationship.
This type of offense could be prosecuted as a felony or misdemeanor. If prosecuted as a misdemeanor, possible punishments include a sentencing of one year of jail time, a max. fine of $1,000, or both. This offense may be a felony depending on the defendant’s previous criminal history. If so, the potential punishments include up to three (3) years in prison, a max. fine of $1,000, or both.
Damaging a Telephone Line – PC 591
Under PC Section 591, it’s a crime to intentionally take down, remove, disconnect, cut, or obstruct a telephone line. This type of offense may be found in connection to a domestic dispute if someone from a household decides to cut a telephone line so as to prevent anyone in the house from communicating over the phone.
This type of offense may be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the case and the defendant’s previous criminal history. If prosecuted as a misdemeanor, possible punishments include a sentence of 1 year of jail time, a max. fine of $1,000, or both. If prosecuted as a felony, the possible punishments include between 16 months and 3 years in prison, a max. fine of $10,000, or both.
Aggravated Trespass – PC 601
Aggravated trespassing, as defined under PC Section 601, means unlawfully entering another individual’s home or workplace with the intent to carry out a threat he/she has made towards the other individual within the last 30 days. This can relate to a domestic violence incident if a family member has made a threat to another family member, and then proceeds to enter their home without permission in order to act on the threat. This charge can be filed in conjunction with other types of domestic violence charges depending on the details of the case.
An aggravated trespass charge may be tried as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the case since it is considered a “wobbler” type of offense. If prosecuted as a misdemeanor, the accused could face potential punishments such as probation, a sentence of 1 year of jail time, a max. fine of $2,000, or both. If a felony charge, possible punishments include probation, between 16 months, 2, and 3 years of jail time, a max. $10,000 fine, or both.
Revenge Porn – 647(j)(4)
“Revenge porn,” as defined under PC Section 647(j)(4), makes it a crime to distribute sexual images and/or videos made under the agreement that they were to remain private. By posting or sharing these images or videos, the victim may endure emotional distress due to their private nature. Usually, these types of images or videos may be published to the internet as a means of retribution against a person with a former intimate relationship.
This type of offense is considered to be a misdemeanor in California. As such, the possible punishments for a first offense include probation, up to one (1) year in jail, fine of $1,000, or both. It is also important to know prior incidents or serious circumstance may increase the severity of the punishments. If the defendant has previously been convicted of “revenge porn,” or if the victim of the crime was a child, then the punishments are increased to include one (1) year in jail, fine of $2,000, or both.
Posting Harmful Information to the Internet – PC 653.2
As written out by PC Section 653.2, it is a crime to post harmful information about another individual on the internet so as to create situations in which other people may harass or harm that individual. This can be related to domestic violence cases if someone posts harmful information about another family member, or individual with which he or she has an intimate relationship, with the intent to potentially cause harm or harassment after a domestic dispute. This act must be made through an electronic device.
This type of offense is a misdemeanor. The possible punishments include probation, up to one (1) year in jail, or a fine of $1,000.
Defenses in Domestic Violence Cases
As with other types of offenses in the state of California, you may present a defense against any form of domestic violence offense. With a defense, you may argue, with the help of a proper lawyer, against the charge so as to potentially drop them. With domestic violence types of cases, there are a couple of common defenses that are utilized. Possible defenses include accidents, not being the perpetrator of the crime, self-defense, and false accusation.
Sometimes, injuries may accidentally occur. If you have been charged with a corporal injury offense or abuse, but you believed that the injury was accidental in nature, then you may not be charged in the court of law. However, you would need to prove this is the case if this is your defense.
Not the Perpetrator
Certain situations can be messy. Sometimes, it can become unclear on who exactly perpetrated the crime. If you believe that another individual was responsible for the crime, then you may not be charged in the court of law if you can prove this to be true.
Sometimes, you may strike someone else if there is the possibility that you may be harmed in any way. This is acting out of self-defense. If you acted in self-defense, or in the defense of another individual, with equal force against the likelihood of danger or death, then you may not be charged in the court of law if it can be proven.
Lastly, you may not be charged for a domestic violence offense if you have been falsely accused. Especially with domestic violence cases, false accusation may be made out of jealousy, anger, emotional outbursts, or any other type of stressful situation. Familial relations may even enhance the likelihood of being falsely accused of a domestic violence offense. If you can prove this to be true, you may not be charged in the court of law.
Is There a Criminal Lawyer Near Me Who Can Help?
California has multiple types of domestic violence offenses that can range from stalking to a battery. However, domestic violence crimes are quite common. Disputes can often occur within a household, and they could potentially lead harsh punishments under the law. Have you, or someone you may know, been pressed with a domestic violence charge, or any other type of, criminal offense around Los Angeles and the surrounding area, we can help.
At Los Angeles Criminal Lawyer, we believe our excellent team of lawyers and staff members to be some of the best around. Our lawyers aim to provide their experience and knowledge in the legal field to those who need it. If you find that you need help with a domestic violence case, please do not pause to call our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer at our number, 310-502-1314. We are on standby to hear from you about your case today.