California has special laws that deal with domestic violence. Domestic violence can consist of a number of actions against an individual, including stalking, threatening, inflicting corporal injury on a victim, or damaging property. Domestic violence is also a broad term that is used on several offenses, but the law does make a clear distinction between certain types of domestic violence.
The most common domestic violence charge is Penal Code 273.5, which deals with inflicting corporal injury on an individual who is an intimate partner. An intimate partner includes any individual who is any one of the following:
- The defendant’s current or former partner
- The defendant’s fiance or fiancee
- The mother or father of the offender’s child
- The defendant’s cohabitant or former cohabitant
Domestic battery that inflicts corporal injury is a wobbler offense, but in most cases, a prosecutor may agree to reduce the charges to a misdemeanor if the injuries were not serious enough to necessitate a felony conviction.
Penal Code 243(e) is yet another commonly charged domestic violence offense. This offense involves the crime of committing battery on an intimate partner. Domestic battery is any intentional and menacing/unwanted touching of someone who is considered your intimate partner. In proving domestic battery, the threat alone of an imminent attack is enough to pass a domestic violence conviction. Physical contact is a key element, but actual infliction of injury isn’t necessary.
Domestic battery in California is a misdemeanor offense that, if penalized, can get convicted offenders up to 1 year in jail.
A felony conviction for inflicting corporal injury carries a more serious penalty of up to 4 years in prison and criminal fines that can sum up to $6,000. Apart from serving time behind bars and paying fines, a domestic violence conviction has additional consequences. A domestic violence conviction can also mean:
- Losing your right to own a firearm
- Losing your parental custody rights
- Losing your professional license
- Having your immigration status rescinded
If you’re charged with any of the aforementioned domestic violence offenses, you must be advised by a Los Angeles, criminal defense attorney. Your defense attorney will first ask the prosecutor to drop the charges or the judge to dismiss the case. If neither is an option, our experienced lawyers at Saros Law APC will argue aggressively for a not guilty verdict.
1. Spousal Battery
Spousal battery falls under California’s vast battery laws meant to protect specific individuals who have a relationship with the offender. Penal Code 243(e)(1) applies to anyone who may be considered a “spouse” to the offender and they can include:
- A current or former spouse
- A fiance or fiancee
- A cohabitant
- A person with whom the defendant currently has, or has previously had, a dating relationship
- The mother or father of the offender’s child
Thus, to prove spousal battery, a prosecutor only needs to prove that; the defendant willfully and unlawfully touched the victim in a harmful or offensive manner and that the defendant was a former or current spouse, cohabitant, fianc(e), or someone you have a child with.
2. Assault & Battery Deadly Weapon
Assault or battery with a deadly weapon is a criminal offense under Penal Code 245(a)(1). When anyone assaults another person with a deadly weapon other than a firearm or uses deadly force likely to cause bodily injury, the prosecution can charge the offender with a felony or a misdemeanor. The severity of the penalty will depend on how serious the victim perceived the threat of an imminent attack.
3. Corporal Injury
Corporal injury is one among many domestic violence charges described in California statute. Under Penal Code 273.5, it is illegal to inflict corporal injury that causes a traumatic condition upon an intimate partner. A traumatic condition is any wound or bodily injury, whether small or serious, resulting from using direct force. Prosecutors only need to show injuries on the victim which were inflicted intentionally by the offender. Depending on the level of harm or force used, the force can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony.
4. Harassment and Stalking
Penal Code 646.9 is a stalking law that makes it illegal to follow, harass or threaten someone repeatedly. To prove a crime of stalking, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed another person
- That you acted with the intent to cause credible fear for the victim’s safety or the safety of his/her immediate family
Stalking is a wobbler offense that is also punishable under California’s “Three Strikes” laws.
5. Child Abuse
California child abuse laws are stipulated in Section 273(d) of the Penal Code. The law defines child abuse as any intentional act that causes physical injury to a child. Child abuse can take many forms, including bruising, slapping, hurting, or brutally beating a child for “disciplinary” purposes. Child abuse is a wobbler offense charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on each case and the offender’s criminal history.
6. Elder Abuse
Elderly abuse cases can be handled in either a criminal or civil court. Criminal elder abuse, according to Penal Code 368, happens when an individual knowing that the victim is an elder;
- willfully causes or permits an elder to suffer
- or inflicts unjustifiable pain or mental suffering on an elder
Under California Statute, an elder is anyone who is over 65 years. However, this law also covers adult dependents between 18 and 64 years who are either physically or mentally disabled.
Elderly abuse can include physical abuse, psychological abuse, neglect, or financial abuse. Elderly abuse is a wobble offense, and a felony conviction for elderly abuse can count as a strike Under California’s “Three Strikes” law.