Domestic violence charges in California carry stiff sentencing guidelines. If you have been accused of a domestic violence offense, you should not discount the impact these charges could have on your future. A domestic violence conviction can seriously damage your professional reputation and could limit your ability to get a job in many industries.
If you are facing charges due to accusations of domestic violence it is very important that you seek the advice and guidance of a domestic violence attorney in Costa Mesa who knows the laws and how to apply them to your unique circumstances. With the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, you could have your charges reduced or dismissed completely depending on the facts of your case.
California Domestic Violence Charges
You can be charged with domestic violence in California if you are believed to have used violence, force, or the threat of violence against a person you are in or have been in a domestic relationship with. California law defines domestic relationships as being between intimate partners, spouses, co-parents, cohabitants, dating couples, ex-spouses, and ex-partners. These are common charges resulting from a domestic incident in California:
A charge of domestic battery is the charge most commonly referred to as domestic violence. This charge can be applied when you are accused of the use of force or violence or the threat of the use of force or violence within a domestic relationship. Domestic battery is a misdemeanor offense that carries a punishment of up to one year in county jail and fines of up to $2,000.
The victim of domestic battery does not need to prove harm or injury for a conviction as the charge does not require physical injury. A conviction can be pursued even if the victim recants their statement. In addition to the fines and jail time, a conviction could result in a court order to complete a domestic violence program.
Corporal Injury to Spouse or Cohabitant
This charge requires that the victim suffered a “traumatic condition” that was a direct result of physical force. Injuries may be severe or minor and the charge can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the injuries and your criminal history among other factors. This charge is more serious than a domestic battery charge and the penalties are harsher as well.
When this charge is filed as a misdemeanor it carries a sentence of up to one year in county jail and up to $6,000 in fines. When the charge is filed as a felony the penalty can be two, three, or four years in state prison and fines up to $6,000. If you have had a conviction within seven years of a violent or domestic offense then the sentence can be increased by as much as five years in state prison and the fines can be up to $10,000.
California law clarifies a “traumatic condition” is any injury or wound no matter how minor or serious. Bumps, bruises, abrasions, broken bones, and internal bleeding all qualify. The presence of a traumatic condition is the main factor that escalates a charge from domestic battery to corporal injury and allows the charge to be filed as a felony if warranted.
Great Bodily Injury Sentence Enhancement
A sentence enhancement is not a separate charge, but it is an aggravating factor that can increase the penalty you may receive. A great bodily injury enhancement is applied when the victim suffers substantial injuries as a direct result of domestic violence. A conviction with this enhancement can result in the addition of up to a five-year sentence that will run consecutive to the initial sentence.
Los Angeles County will no longer pursue sentence enhancements as of December of 2020. The rest of the state does still recognize and pursue sentence enhancements. A charge of corporal injury with great bodily injury is considered a strike offense under California’s three-strike laws.
For a free legal consultation with a domestic violence lawyer serving Costa Mesa, call (310) 896-2723
Gun Rights Removed for Misdemeanor or Felony Domestic Charge
In addition to possible incarceration and some hefty fines, a conviction for a domestic violence offense will result in the loss of your right to own a gun. Whether the charge is filed as a misdemeanor or a felony, if you are convicted you will lose your gun rights in California for life.
Costa Mesa Domestic Violence Lawyer Near Me (310) 896-2723
At the judge’s discretion, a conviction of a domestic violence charge can result in a suspended sentence, also known as probation. There are two forms of probation imposed under California laws.
- Summary Probation – Also known as misdemeanor probation, it can be imposed for a term of one to three years.
- Formal Probation – Also known as felony probation, it is generally imposed for a period of three to five years.
Defending Your Rights
Defending yourself against such strong accusations can be a difficult task. Knowing the law may not be enough, having a Costa Mesa domestic violence attorney is critical to your defense because they can interpret and apply the laws to the events that lead to the charges being filed.
For example, both of these charges require that the violence or force be willfully committed. If the events were the result of an accident then the charges may be dismissed. Other common defenses include self-defense or the defense of another.
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Having Charges Expunged
If you have been convicted of a domestic violence charge and you have successfully completed your sentence without receiving new charges you may request that the charges be expunged from your record under certain circumstances. This can be beneficial if you have difficulty obtaining a job due to a past conviction. It may also help you rebuild your reputation if it has been harmed by the mere accusations of these charges.