I’ve Been Charged with Domestic Violence- What Next?

Conflict is a natural occurrence in any relationship. Spouses and intimate partners often have disagreements that shouldn’t warrant intervention from third parties. But what if the conflict escalates to the point of causing actual physical harm? 

California domestic abuse laws are in place to protect vulnerable people from different forms of abuse. Maybe things went out of control and now you’re currently facing criminal charges for domestic violence. If this is the case, this article can help you understand what comes next. 

What does California law say about domestic violence?

You might think the actions involved in a domestic violence case have to be extremely violent, but this isn’t always the case. Domestic violence charges can be defined under two separate laws in California. First, Penal Code 13700 outlaws exerting “force” or threatening to exert force on an intimate partner. Second, California Family Code expands this coverage in PC 13700  to include relatives by blood or marriage. This means that the same protection accorded to spouses also extends to siblings, aunts and uncles, in-laws, and cousins, to name a few. 

How much force is too much force depends on each individual case and the charges applied. California outlines specific crimes that can be charged as domestic abuse. However, the most common charges that prosecution includes in domestic violence cases include:

  • Domestic battery – PC 243(e)(1)- This law broadly defines domestic battery, but generally speaking, this law makes it illegal to touch someone you’re in an intimate relationship with in a harmful way, whether or not that person sustained visible injuries. In addition, the victim doesn’t need to prove that you acted with intent to cause injury. 
  • Corporal injury to intimate partner – PC 273.5 is the most commonly charged domestic violence-related charge and deals with corporal injury to a current or former intimate partner. However, unlike domestic battery, corporal injury is much more serious because it can lead to a felony conviction. Corporal injury is a “wobbler” offense in California which means the prosecution can push for a felony or misdemeanor conviction, depending on the case. Just like domestic battery, corporal injury is also defined as harmful touching. The only difference between the two laws is that PC 273.5 requires that any harmful physical contact results in injury. 

What to expect after getting domestic violence charges

California domestic violence laws currently require law enforcement officers to take immediate measures to protect the victims, even before any charges can be made formally. Thus, it isn’t uncommon for law enforcement personnel to act immediately and make arrests following domestic violence allegations. Once a law enforcement officer responds, here’s what you can expect to happen:

  • If your accuser shows any visible signs of injury, the law enforcement officers will typically make an arrest on the spot 
  • The law enforcement officers will also confiscate any firearms in the house
  • If you have any restraining order against you, the police will also arrest you, regardless of whether your accuser shows any evidence of injury
  • Your accuser may also request an Emergency Protective Order. If this happens, you’ll have to leave your home for seven days until the order expires. At present, restraining orders come in different forms, but they are usually given to victims of domestic violence until the defendant is proven guilty or innocent. As a defendant, if your significant other gets a restraining order against you, you’re legally barred from going within 100 yards of him/her, as long as the order is in effect.

What happens if you get convicted of domestic violence?

If a court finds you guilty of domestic violence, the penalties depend on whether the conviction is a misdemeanor or felony. As you would expect, the more serious the offense, the more severe the punishment. Below is a breakdown of possible sentences for your domestic violence conviction.

Type of PenaltyMisdemeanorFelony
Jail termUp to 1 year in a county jailUp to 4 years in a state prison
Criminal fines and/victim restitutionUp to $6,000Up to $6,000
Possible probationSummary probationFormal Probation
Restraining orderUp to 10 yearsUp to 10 years 

Apart from the above penalties, you also risk losing your gun ownership privileges and custody of your children. 

Why you need a criminal defense attorney:

A California domestic violence conviction may result in jail time, large fines, and a lot of time spent in mandatory programs, time you would have spent doing something else. Not only that, a criminal conviction on your record can destroy any opportunities coming your way. For that reason, it is vital to have a qualified domestic violence defense attorney handle your case as soon as you can contact one. Defense attorneys have the skills and experience to use different strategies to defend your case. If you’re currently facing criminal charges for domestic violence, we welcome you to read through the information on this website and call us if you’d like to discuss your case further. Criminal Defense Heroes has experience in representing men and women in domestic violence cases and can investigate the facts surrounding the charges. Click Here to see recent wins in domestic violence cases. To schedule a consultation, call Criminal Defense Heroes at +1 323-529-3660.