Domestic Violence Lawyer Explains Laws Regarding Domestic Violence
Are You Seeking to Hire a Domestic Violence Lawyer?
Domestic violence charges are serious matters in California. If you have been accused of domestic violence, you face severe jail or prison time and expensive fines. You could also have a restraining order issued against you, preventing you from being near your spouse, significant other, child, or home. That is why you should not hesitate to speak to an experienced domestic violence lawyer if you have been arrested for domestic violence.
Read below to find out more information about how domestic violence charges are handled in California or simply pick up the phone and call our law firm at (714) 203-6738 for free, immediate advice from a top domestic violence lawyer.
Why Hire Wallin & Klarich?
The success of our domestic violence defense law firm has helped us achieve the highest of merits, including a 5 out of 5 AV rating on Lawyers.com, a 10 out of 10 rating on AVVO.com, and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
For more than 35 years, the domestic violence lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have been successfully defending people like you who have been charged with domestic violence. Here are just a few testimonials provided by some of our previous clients who wanted to share their stories:
“I was arrested for allegedly hitting my wife, I had a prior charge for the same count, and I was facing jail time. I hired Wallin & Klarich to represent me. My domestic violence attorney fought the case hard for me, and he never once tried to get me to plead guilty. Thanks to his help, the case was entirely dismissed! No jail, no classes, and no probation! Wallin & Klarich is the best!”
“I had a horrible history of domestic violence. When I was young, I was quick to get angry and was unable to control myself. I was convicted of felony domestic violence seven years ago. I served one year in jail and did my anger management counseling for 18 months. I really learned to manage my temper and to take steps to prevent any further violence. Unfortunately, my ex-wife knew about my past, and she had taunted me over the years that she could send me back to jail with one phone call, and that nobody would believe a word from a former felon. Well, that nightmare came true. She made good on her threats and called the police and lied to them, alleging that I beat her. She wanted to punish me for leaving her for another woman. When we went to court, no one believed me, no one except my domestic violence lawyer. He advised me that I was facing a year in jail. We took the matter to trail, where the prosecutor attempted to use my prior conviction from seven years ago to prove that I was guilty of the charges I was facing. My attorney was able to bring out the true story, and more importantly, the motives my ex-wife had to lie to the police and to convince my own kids to testify against me. The jury didn’t buy any of it. They voted 12-0 finding me not guilty. I thank my attorney from Wallin & Klarich for all his efforts and for allowing me to have my life back.”
“I was accused of felony domestic violence with injury, and I was facing up to three years in state prison. The attorneys of Wallin & Klarich moved aggressively to present my case in the best light to the court and negotiate with the district attorney. In the end, my felony domestic violence charge was reduced to a misdemeanor. The punishment I received consisted of a domestic violence class and 40 hours of community service, a far cry from the punishment I initially faced! In addition, I was soon reunited with my family. Without the expert advice and guidance of Wallin & Klarich, I could have lost my job, my home and my family. I am grateful to Wallin & Klarich for their help.”
Call Our Domestic Violence Lawyers at Wallin & Klarich Today
You can place your trust in Wallin & Klarich. Our knowledgeable domestic violence lawyers are committed to defending your rights and your freedom. Call us today for immediate help on your domestic violence case.
For more information on domestic violence laws, read below or pick up the phone and speak to one of our skilled domestic violence attorneys right away.
Call our law firm today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation.
Domestic Violence Lawyer Explains California Domestic Violence Laws
The term “domestic violence” refers to a set of laws in California rather than just a single crime. The most common domestic violence offenses in California include:
- PC 273.5 – Infliction of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant
- PC 243(e)(1) – Domestic battery
- PC 273d – Child abuse
From a legal standpoint, domestic violence means violence that the defendant allegedly committed against persons with whom he or she has a close personal relationship. Domestic violence laws are intended to give special protections to those people because of the potential vulnerabilities the victims face as a result of their relationship to the defendant, as well as to severely punish persons who commit domestic violence crimes.
Persons protected by domestic violence laws include:
- Spouses and former spouses
- Significant others and former significant others
- A person to whom the defendant is or was engaged to be married to
- Family members; and
Prosecutors are given wide discretion in California to pursue the maximum sentence possible in domestic violence cases, even if any injury inflicted upon the alleged victim is minimal. If you face the severe penalties that come with a domestic violence conviction, you should contact an experienced domestic violence lawyer at Wallin & Klarich right away.
What are Domestic Violence Laws in California?
If you are charged with a domestic violence offense in California, it means that you are accused of committing one of the many crimes that make up the domestic violence laws in California. Which domestic violence crime you are charged with depends upon the act that allegedly took place and your relationship to the alleged victim.
The most common domestic violence charges are:
- Infliction of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant
- Battery on a spouse or cohabitant
- Child abuse
Corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant (PC 273.5)
Under Penal Code Section 273.5, it is a crime to inflict “corporal injury” resulting in a “traumatic condition” upon a victim described as:
- A current or former spouse or significant other
- A current or former cohabitant, or
- The mother or father of your child
It is important to understand the phrase “traumatic condition” for the purposes of the crime of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant. Under PC 273.5, a traumatic condition is defined as “a wound or other bodily injury, whether minor or serious, caused by the direct application of physical force.”
Therefore, you could be charged under PC 273.5 if your act inflicted any visible injury, such as swelling, bruising, broken bones, marks or cuts, to the alleged victim.
Domestic battery (PC 243(e)(1))
The crime of domestic battery is similar to the crime of inflicting corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, but there are some key differences between these two crimes. The main difference is that the crime of domestic battery under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1) does not require you to have caused visible injury in order to be convicted.
You commit the crime of domestic battery if you willfully inflict force or violence upon:
- A current or former spouse or significant other
- A current or former cohabitant, or
- The mother or father of your child
Child Abuse (PC 273d)
Under California Penal Code Section 273d, the infliction of cruel or inhuman corporal punishment or injury on a child is a crime in California.
California law allows parents to reasonably discipline their children. For instance, it is legal for a parent to spank his or her child as a disciplinary measure. However, the discipline must not be cruel or inhuman or cause even the slightest injury. If you cross the line in disciplining your child, you could be charged with child abuse under PC 273d.
Parents are permitted to reasonably discipline their children through such acts as spanking, but the discipline can result in a child abuse charge if the court finds the punishment was cruel or inhuman, and caused even the slightest injury.
If you are convicted of domestic violence, you face severe punishment. That is why you should contact the best domestic violence lawyers immediately if you are accused of a domestic violence crime.
Domestic Violence Punishment and Sentencing
The punishment you face for a domestic violence conviction depends upon the specific crime you are accused of.
Domestic battery under PC 243(e)(1) is a misdemeanor crime. If you are convicted of domestic battery in California, you face up to 364 days in county jail and a fine of up to $2,000.
Infliction of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant under PC 273.5 is a “wobbler” offense, meaning prosecutors could charge you with a misdemeanor or a felony if you are accused of this crime. How you will be charged is determined by the circumstances of your case.
If you are convicted of a misdemeanor violation of PC 273.5, you face up to 364 days in county jail and a fine of up to $6,000. If you are convicted of felony infliction of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant, you face two, three or four years in state prison and fines of up to $6,000. Additionally, your sentence could be increased if it is proven that you used a weapon to inflict injury or if you inflicted great bodily injury upon the victim.
Under PC 273d, child abuse is also a wobbler offense. If you are convicted of misdemeanor child abuse, you could be sentenced to up to 364 days in county jail and fined up to $6,000. A felony child abuse conviction carries a sentence of two, four or six years in jail and fines of up to $6,000.
Additional Punishment for Domestic Violence Convictions
On top of the custody time and expensive fines for domestic violence convictions listed above, you could face additional penalties if you are convicted of a domestic violence crime. Depending on the circumstances of your case, a domestic violence conviction could result in:
- The revocation of your right to use, own or possess a firearm for at least 10 years
- Anger management classes for up to one year
- The loss of custody of your child
If you fail to complete any part of your sentence for your domestic violence conviction, you could face additional punishment.
If you have a child, a domestic violence conviction could lead to you losing custody of your child. The court could remove the child from your care and impose monitored visitation, which means you would not be able to see your child without supervision of another parent or a representative from social services. The court could also decide to revoke your right to see your child at all. This order will remain in place until you can prove that you do not pose a risk to your child’s health and safety.
These harsh consequences could have an impact on you for the rest of your life. A knowledgeable domestic violence lawyer may be able to help you avoid these severe penalties.
How Domestic Violence Cases are Prosecuted
Generally, a domestic violence case starts when a person, typically the alleged victim, calls the police and accuses another person of committing a domestic violence crime. In most cases, the alleged victim is the chief witness in a domestic violence case.
The police will compile a report of the incident, usually made up of statements made by the parties involved and any witnesses. The report is then sent to the district attorney’s office. It is up to the district attorney to decide whether to file formal charges or drop the case.
The district attorney will determine whether to pursue domestic violence charges by looking at all of the facts of the case and deciding if the evidence is sufficient to convict you of a domestic violence crime. In order to convict you of domestic violence, the prosecution must prove all of the following elements of the crime beyond reasonable doubt:
- You willfully and unlawfully inflicted a physical injury
- The person who was injured was related to you in one of these ways:
- Current or former spouse
- Current or former cohabitant
- Your child or a child who has been placed under your care
- The mother or father of your child; or
- Someone with whom you have or previously had an engagement or dating relationship
- The injury you inflicted resulted in the victim suffering a traumatic condition; and
- You did not commit this act for the purposes of self-defense
If the district attorney believes he or she can prove all of these elements are true in your case with the evidence available, you will likely be charged with domestic violence.
Best Legal Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges
At Wallin & Klarich, our expert domestic violence lawyers have been successfully defending clients facing domestic violence charges for more than 35 years. Our skilled domestic violence attorneys understand how to devise a strong legal defense strategy on your behalf.
Some of the best legal defenses that our attorneys have used to successfully defend clients facing domestic violence charges include:
- You were acting in self-defense or in defense of another – You cannot be convicted of a domestic violence crime if you inflicted corporal injury on a person as a method to defend yourself or someone else from suffering harm. It is important to note that self-defense is a valid legal defense when your act does not exceed the amount of force a reasonable person would believe was necessary in the same situation. For instance, it likely would not be a valid legal defense if the alleged victim was throwing pillows at you and you attacked him or her with a baseball bat.
- The injury was not caused by a willful act, but rather was an accidental injury – If you did not willfully inflict corporal injury upon the alleged victim, you should not be convicted of domestic violence. For example, if you accidentally drop something on your wife’s head, it is not considered an act of domestic violence.
- The alleged victim made a false or mistaken accusation – If you did not actually commit the act of domestic violence, you cannot be convicted of the crime. This could occur if the alleged victim was lying about the incident or if he or she identified you as the perpetrator when in fact someone else committed the act.
An experienced domestic violence lawyer will be able to review the facts of your case and decide which defense to apply.
Frequently Asked Questions for Domestic Violence Lawyers
1. My spouse does not want to press domestic violence charges. Can the district attorney still prosecute?
It is not up to the alleged victim of domestic violence whether to press charges. California law takes the decision out of the hands of the victim in domestic violence cases and puts it entirely in the hands of the district attorney.
Due to the nature of the relationship between the alleged victim and the defendant, there is a tendency for victims to have mixed feelings about the accused being charged with a crime. This is why California law gives the alleged victim no discretion over whether or not the charges will be filed. Once domestic violence allegations have been made to the police, only the district attorney has the power to decide if charges are filed or dropped.
2. Can I take back my allegations of domestic violence?
Despite the fact that only the district attorney has the power to decide whether charges are filed, some people think that taking back their allegations of domestic violence will help their significant other’s case. In many cases, the word of the alleged victim is the key piece of evidence against the defendant, and losing statements from the alleged victim as evidence could lead to the charges being dropped.
However, you should first speak to an experienced domestic violence lawyer about recanting your statement. Taking back your statement could lead to charges of lying to the police or filing a false police report, so you should consult with an attorney about how to properly recant your statement so that you do not risk being charged with a crime.
3. I do not want to testify against my spouse, but I want to testify on his behalf. Is that allowed?
In California, you have the right to refuse to testify against your spouse. A witness is considered “unavailable” if he or she invokes this right. If the alleged victim in a domestic violence case decides not to cooperate, the prosecution’s chances of securing a conviction can be severely reduced unless they have other substantial evidence.
However, some people wish to testify on behalf of their spouse. Many people think this could be a way to explain the story in a way that shows the defendant did not commit domestic violence or to attest to the good overall characteristics of their spouse. However, you could run into problems by testifying at all. You open yourself up to cross-examination by the prosecution if you testify, and the prosecution will be able to bring up statements you made to the police. Consult with a domestic violence attorney to discuss whether it is best for you to testify in your specific case.
4. I injured my roommate during an argument. Is that domestic violence?
Yes, you could be charged with domestic violence for inflicting corporal injury upon a roommate. A roommate is considered a “cohabitant,” which is a protected person under California domestic violence laws regardless of the nature of your relationship.
5. I only hit my spouse because I was defending myself, and I was the only one arrested. What are my options?
Self-defense may be a viable defense against domestic violence charges in your case. This defense is considered an “affirmative defense,” which means it will be up to your domestic violence lawyer to prove the following:
- You reasonably believed that you (or another person) were in imminent danger of suffering bodily injury or being unlawfully touched
- You reasonably believed that the immediate use of force was necessary to defend against that danger, and
- You used no more force than necessary to repel the danger
If all of the above circumstances are true, self-defense may be a valid legal defense to a domestic violence crime.
How Do I Find a Domestic Violence Lawyer Near Me?
Domestic violence charges carry severe punishment in California. That is why you should contact the best domestic violence lawyers you can find if you are accused of this crime.
At Wallin & Klarich, our experienced criminal defense lawyers have been successfully defending clients facing domestic violence charges for more than 38 years. We’ve helped thousands of clients in their time of legal need, and we can help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich domestic violence lawyer available to help you no matter where you work or live.
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.
1. See CALCRIM 840. Inflicting Injury on Spouse, Cohabitant, or Fellow Parent Resulting in Traumatic Condition (Pen. Code, § 273.5(a))↩