Domestic violence charges under PC 273.5 involve corporal injury to a spouse, cohabitant, or intimate partner. Any person who willfully inflict corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition upon certain victims can be found guilty of domestic violence.
Under California law, domestic violence under PC 273.5 can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. A felony conviction can carry up to four years in state prison, and a fine of up to $6,000. A misdemeanor conviction can carry up to one year in county jail, and a fine of up to $6,000.
If you have a prior conviction within 7 years under Pen C §273.5 or other specified offenses, you will be subject to imprisonment in a county jail for not more than 1 year, or by imprisonment in state prison for 2, 4, or 5 years, or by both imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
Similarly, if you have a prior conviction within 7 years for battery under Pen C §243(e), you will be subject to imprisonment in a county jail for not more than 1 year, or by imprisonment in state prison for 2, 3, or 4 years, or by a fine of up to $10,000, or by both that imprisonment and fine.
Please note that a conviction of PC 273.5 as either a felony or misdemeanor is generally considered a crime of “moral turpitude.” If convicted, a defendant who is not a U.S. citizen can suffer drastic immigration consequences, including deportation. This applies even if the individual has no prior criminal history.
If probation is granted, you may still be required to serve some jail time, and maybe subjected to a minimum probationary period of 3 years; a criminal court protective order to protect the victim from acts of violence, threats, stalking, harassment, sexual abuse; stay-away conditions; court payments; completion of a minimum 52-week batterer’s program; counseling; community service; payment to the victim; and other conditions of probation. PC 1203.097.
A conviction can also result in being subjected to a restraining order for up to 10 years. A restraining order can restrict your physical movements, prevent you from going to places, talking to certain people, contacting someone via phone, text message, email, or social media. Violating a court protective order can and usually results in the filing of its own separate felony or misdemeanor charges.
Additionally, under PC 29805, a conviction under domestic violence under PC 273.5 will prohibit you from possessing any firearm or gun for ten (10) years.
The types of actions that can lead to domestic violence include any damage to the body by physical force, whether serious or minor. This may include grabbing someone hard enough to leave a bruise, throwing an object at someone that leaves a cut, or shoving someone who falls over and sprains their wrist. Corporal injuries also include any injury that results from attempted strangulation, applying pressure to the throat or neck or suffocation.
Domestic violence applies not only to spouses but other people who may be intimately related. This includes a spouse or former spouse, cohabitant or former cohabitant, someone with whom the offender has or had a dating relationship or the mother or father of the offender’s child.
California has a mandatory arrest policy when law enforcement suspects domestic violence may have taken place. If the police are called and think someone has harmed a spouse or ex-partner, then the officer must make an arrest, even if no one wants to press charges. As a result, the police may end up arresting the wrong person, or in some cases, they may arrest multiple people.
Many innocent people find themselves facing domestic violence charges. The alleged victim may have reported the abuse to get revenge on a former lover, as a weapon in a divorce or child custody or dispute, or reported by the parents of a former partner. The police may take the alleged victim’s word at face value, even when there is no evidence of any violence or abuse.
When an innocent person is accused of domestic violence, they may think the fact that they are innocent is enough to keep them out of jail. After being confronted by an aggressive prosecutor who assures them they will be found guilty, many innocent people take a plea deal rather than face the potential maximum jail time. Before you give up your rights and plead guilty, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will investigate your case, identify your strongest defenses, and fight to keep you out of jail. Your attorney can bring forth witnesses to dispute wrongful accusations and challenge the alleged victim’s story.