In recent years, states like California have prioritized instituting stronger protections for survivors of domestic violence. While there is no question that acts of domestic abuse can and do happen, the stricter focus on investigating and prosecuting such crimes sometimes means that law enforcement will respond to any allegation of domestic violence (regardless of its validity). Unfortunately, even exaggerated claims of domestic violence or an officer’s quick (yet incomplete) judgment call at the scene can upend the accused’s life. Although our court system assures defendants of their innocence until proven guilty, this does not always happen. An accusation of domestic violence, even if it’s later found to be baseless or unfounded, can negatively impact several aspects of your life, including your personal relationships, employment prospects, future opportunities, and your reputation within the community. As soon as you discover that you’re facing accusations of domestic violence in the Palmdale or Lancaster area, contact Former Deputy District Attorney and Former Judge Pro Tem David M. Wallin to discuss the details of your situation. With over 35 years of experience in handling these types of cases from every side of the criminal justice system enables him to provide exceptional criminal defense services to enforce your legal rights and safeguard your future. Let’s take a look at the potential penalties for domestic violence criminal charges and what steps you can take to maximize your chances of securing the best outcome possible.
How California Law Defines Domestic Violence Offenses
First, it’s helpful to grasp what the term “domestic violence” means in the field of criminal law. Although the California penal code does not explicitly use this term as a criminal offense, acts of domestic violence tend to be categorized and charged as either corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant (Section 273.5) or battery against a spouse or cohabitant (Section 243(e)). Essentially, corporal injury refers to the use of violent force upon another person’s body that results in a traumatic condition or injury. For example, if one spouse willfully inflicts the injury (meaning deliberately intended to cause harm) on the other spouse, resulting in a broken bone, bruising, bleeding, or other injury, law enforcement may arrest that individual for inflicting corporal injury on a spouse. Domestic battery charges usually cover less severe offenses, such as pushing or shoving one’s spouse or cohabitant. In some cases, a defendant may be convicted of this offense even without causing pain to the other person; prosecutors must only demonstrate that the defendant used “force or violence” against the person (and not that the use of such force caused them harm).
Penalties of a Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Conviction
Domestic battery offenses are generally considered misdemeanor crimes. If convicted of battery against a spouse or cohabitant, you could face incarceration in a county jail for up to one year, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. In some cases, the judge may decide to award the defendant probation instead of a jail sentence. When probation is granted, the defendant must complete a court-approved domestic violence education program or batterer’s intervention program. Depending on the specifics of the case, the judge may issue a protective order or domestic violence restraining order that prohibits you from contacting, threatening, harassing, or harming the alleged victim. Violating the terms of the protective order puts you at risk of incurring fines or even additional criminal charges, so it’s essential to understand and obey all of the terms set forth in the protective order.
Felony Domestic Violence Penalties in California
In cases involving corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant, the defendant will likely face a felony charge. If convicted of such an offense, the defendant may face state imprisonment for two, three, or four years, fines of up to $6,000, or both. Should the defendant already have a prior conviction on their record of a crime relating to battery, sexual battery, or assault that was committed within the last seven years, enhanced penalties may apply (i.e., state imprisonment lasting between two to five years, up to $10,000 in fines, or both). Once the defendant serves the terms of the sentence, they may also face formal probation or parole for no less than three years. Further restrictions may include adhering to all terms set forth in a restraining or protective order, participating in mandatory domestic violence education classes, community service, or any other penalties or acts of restorative justice deemed appropriate by the court.
Wide and Far-Reaching Consequences of Domestic Violence
Having a domestic violence arrest or conviction on your record can have a severe impact on your life. Even after you have completed the terms of your sentence, you must carry your criminal record with you as you apply for jobs or housing. Unfortunately, even an arrest record—and sometimes, even a mere allegation of domestic violence—can limit your future opportunities in significant ways. Family members and close friends may start to drift away from you, and there may be a permanent stain on your reputation. Parents facing allegations of domestic violence may find that their child custody and visitation rights are at risk of limitation or suspension. As overwhelming and stressful as your life may seem right now, it’s essential to recognize that you do not have to endure this difficult time alone. Enlist the guidance of Former Deputy District Attorney and Former Judge Pro Tem David M. Wallin to help you defend your legal rights and keep your future bright. As a certified criminal law specialist, you can trust that he has the experience and training to deliver the results you’re looking for. At the Law Offices of David M. Wallin, we are committed to providing every client with the highest-quality criminal defense services. We offer free consultations and flexible payment plans to ensure that individuals of any age and background can access the legal services they need. Now is not the time to leave your future up to chance—contact us today to get started.
If you are facing domestic violence charges in the Palmdale or Lancaster area, it’s essential to contact a skilled and experienced attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options. Former Deputy District Attorney and Former Judge Pro Tem David M. Wallin will assess the details of your case and identify the most strategic path forward to keep your future as bright as possible. Call the Law Offices of David M. Wallin today at (661) 267-1313 to schedule a free consultation with a dedicated and trusted criminal defense attorney.