?Domestic violence? or ?domestic abuse? is a common criminal charge in California. Simple arguments often escalate into domestic violence allegations. Domestic violence is typically charged under Penal Code 273.5 or Penal Code 243(e). This article focuses on domestic violence charges under Penal Code 273.5.
It is critical for anyone accused of domestic violence to have a basic understanding of domestic violence law, including how a prosecutor attempts to prove domestic violence; punishments for domestic violence; and defenses to domestic violence allegations.
What is required to prove domestic violence? The prosecution must generally prove the following facts to find a defendant guilty of domestic violence under Penal Code 273.5: (1) defendant abused a spouse, former spouse, a current or former live-in girlfriend or boyfriend, or the mother or father of the defendant’s child; (2) the defendant used intentional (non-accidental) force to cause the abuse; and (3) the victim suffered some form of visible injury, even if the visible injury is small.
What are common defenses to domestic violence charges? While any domestic violence charge must be evaluated on its specific facts, in many cases there are strong defenses to a domestic violence charge, including: (1) false accusations ? domestic arguments often result in false accusations of domestic violence; (2) self defense ? it is not domestic abuse when someone uses reasonable self defense to protect himself from a domestic attack; and (3) accident ? it is not domestic abuse when someone does not deliberately do an act to cause injury to a spouse or domestic partner.
What is the punishment for a domestic violence charge? Penal Code 273.5 is a ?wobbler?, meaning that it can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If charged as a misdemeanor, it is punishable by up to 1 year in county jail and a $6,000 fine, or both. If charged as a felony, it is punishable by 2, 3 or 4 years in a state prison, a $6,000 fine, or both. The prosecutor will decide to charge Penal Code 273.5 as a misdemeanor or as a felony based primarily on the extent of the victim’s injuries.
I hope this article has been helpful.
Garret Weinrieb, Esq.
Valerio | Weinrieb Criminal Defense Attorneys
(note: Information contained within this article is intended for general information purposes only and is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice for any individual case or situation. The information contained within this article is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship and use of this article, and any information contained herein, does not constitute such a relationship.)