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Understanding the Implications of Domestic Violence in California

Domestic violence is a very serious issue that affects thousands of families across the state. No person should feel unsafe in his or her own home, and no one should need to bear the physical and emotional abuse caused by domestic abuse. Unfortunately, domestic abuse is rarely a simple issue and it is often accompanied by other criminal acts. Here, we will review what domestic violence means under current state and law and what the penalties are for domestic abuse.

What Domestic Abuse Is

Domestic violence occurs in intimate partner relationships, where one person attempts to gain power or control of the other through aggression of violent behavior. Contrary to popular belief, any person can be the victim of domestic violence, without regard to his or he age, sex, race, education, or marital status. While domestic violence can be manifested through physical abuse, it can also be inflicted through threats, coercion, or intimidation.

Under the state’s Family Code §6211, domestic violence can be inflicted on the following:

  • Present spouse or domestic partner;
  • Former spouse or domestic partner;
  • Person currently or previously dated;
  • Person currently or previously residing with;
  • Other parent of the child;
  • The child; or
  • Person related by blood or marriage.

Domestic Violence Penalties

Currently, domestic violence charges are wobblers under the state’s Penal Code §273.5. This means that the charges can be tried as either a misdemeanor or felony offense. How the case will be tried will depend on the facts of the individual case as well as the defendant’s past criminal record. When the case is charged as a misdemeanor offense, it will be punishable by up to a year in county jail and/or a fine of up to six thousand dollars. When charged as a felony, the punishment can include either two, three, or four years in state prison with a fine of up to six thousand dollars. Individuals who are not United States citizens or are undocumented face deportation upon conviction.

The punishment for domestic violence in the State of California can vary depending on the facts of the specific case. This can include the extent or severity of the injuries inflicted on the victim as well as the defendant’s criminal history. Depending on the case, first time offenders might only serve 30 days in jail for a misdemeanor conviction or serve a probation sentence. When there is insufficient evidence, it is possible that the charges are reduced or the case be dismissed.

Consult the Legal Guidance of a Skilled Family Law Attorney

Domestic violence cases are always sensitive matters that require an in-depth understanding of the law. There are many different types of domestic violence and it is important to recognize when it occurs. If you or someone you love is facing domestic violence, it is critical to know that the State of California protects the rights of victims. Consult a skilled family law attorney who can help you.

The attorneys at Milligan, Bewick, Levine & Knox, LLP have many years of dedicated experience helping families who have suffered domestic abuse. Consult the firm today for a free case evaluation.

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Stephen Levine, is a Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Defense — an honor achieved by only the top criminal law attorneys in California. Mr. Levine has over 40 years of experience in criminal defense and family law serving Southern California, and is a highly regarded Super Lawyer as well as AV Rated attorney.