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When Does Domestic Violence Become a Felony in California?

When Does Domestic Violence Become a Felony in California?

For many crimes under California law, the prosecutor has the choice to charge the defendant with either a misdemeanor or a felony. The choice is generally based on the severity of the harm done to the victim, the use of a weapon, or other aggravating factors.

This is true in domestic violence cases. Like with other crimes, whether you are charged with a felony for domestic violence depends on the severity of the injury you allegedly caused to the victim and your criminal history.

What is Domestic Violence?

In California, “domestic violence” is a term used to describe a group of crimes in which the defendant used physical force against a special class of persons. This class is based upon the alleged victim’s relationship to the defendant. The class of persons includes:

  • Spouses
  • Boyfriends/Girlfriends (Past or Present)
  • Person to Whom the Defendant Is or Was Engaged to Be Married
  • Children
  • Family Members
  • Cohabitants

“Domestic violence” includes crimes such as domestic battery (California Penal Code Section 243(e)), child abuse (California Penal Code Section 273(d)), and the infliction of a corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant (California Penal Code Section 273.5).

Will You Be Charged with Felony Domestic Violence?

Suppose you and your spouse get into an argument that escalates into a physical fight. In a flash of anger, you grab your spouse by the neck and throw him or her against the kitchen counter. Your spouse suffers a concussion, a black eye, a cut on the forehead that requires stitches, a broken nose, and bruises around the neck. You are arrested and charged under PC 273.5 for inflicting a corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant.

This means you are accused of using physical force to cause the infliction of a “traumatic condition” on your spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, or roommate. A traumatic condition is defined as “a wound or other bodily injury, whether minor or serious, caused by the direct application of physical force.”

When determining if you should be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, the prosecutor will consider not just the severity of each individual wound caused, but also the totality of injuries inflicted upon your spouse. In this case, the wounds would likely be considered serious enough to charge you with a felony.

There are additional circumstances that could lead to you being charged with felony domestic violence. For instance, if you have a previous conviction for a violent crime within the previous seven years, such as a prior conviction for domestic battery or assault with a deadly weapon, the prosecution could decide to charge you with a felony.

Contact the Domestic Violence Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich Today

Regardless if you are charged with a misdemeanor or a felony, domestic violence is a serious charge that requires serious legal help from an experienced attorney. At Wallin & Klarich, our team of attorneys has been successfully defending clients against domestic violence charges for over 40 years. We will work tirelessly and use all our skill and knowledge to help you obtain the best possible outcome to your case.

With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, Victorville, Torrance and West Covina, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.

Contact our offices today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free, no-obligation phone consultation. We will get through this together.

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