Different Types of Domestic Violence in California

Different Types of Domestic Violence in California

Most of us are familiar with the concept of domestic violence. What many of us don’t realize is that California has different types of domestic violence charges.

In California, there is both misdemeanor and felony domestic violence. The exact circumstances surrounding the domestic violence incident determine which of those charges you face.

California’s definition of domestic violence is very clear. The state defines domestic violence as: “abuse or threats of abuse when the person abused and the abuser are or have been in an intimate relationship.” The law is also extended in such a way to include victims who are related to their abuser.

California laws make it possible for domestic violence to occur via:

• Sexual assault
• Intentionally harming someone 
• Making statements or sending threatening messages 
• Deliberately disrupting or disturbing the victim’s peace
• Deliberately destroying the victim’s personal property 

 
When the prosecutor is trying to decide if a specific case represents felony or misdemeanor domestic violence there are a few factors they consider. These factors include:

• The circumstances surrounding the incident
• How serious the victim’s injuries were
• Criminal history

 
It’s also possible that witness statements and medical records will play a role in determining how the charges will be handled.

In misdemeanor cases, a guilty verdict can result in a maximum sentence of 12 months in jail as well as possible fines. In felony domestic abuse cases the sentence can be 2,3, or 4 years in a state prison, mandatory counseling, a fine that could be as high as $6,000.

Felony domestic violence is a crime that often has sentencing enhancement added. The circumstances surrounding the case will often determine if the enhancements are added. If the newly convicted person already had a record that includes previous domestic violence convictions that occurred within the last seven years an additional $10,000 in fines as well as 2,4, or 5 years can be attached to the sentence. 

If the domestic violence incident that’s currently on the table involved a great bodily injury, the judge has the option of using a sentence enhancement that adds 3, 4, or 5 years to the sentence.

A single domestic violence charge can have a massive negative impact on your life. It can cause loved ones to turn their back on you, hurt your chances of securing houses, and make it significantly more difficult to find a romantic partner. The best way to prevent a domestic violence conviction from ruining your life is thinking before you act and removing yourself from the situation when you feel that you’re losing your temper.

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What Are California’s Laws on Domestic Violence?

What Are California’s Laws on Domestic Violence?

When a person is interacting with someone that they care about and love, they typically want what is best for them. After all, they love that person. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. Sometimes the people that someone cares about most hurts them for no good reason, and it wasn’t an accident.

Loved ones attacking and hurting one another is more than just shocking and mentally damaging, it is also illegal. This is illegal within the state of California, just like it is illegal to attack anyone.

California’s Domestic Violence Laws

There are two laws within the state of California that layout what counts as domestic violence and what kind of penalties a person will face for committing the crime. The two laws are California Penal Codes (PC) 234(e)(1) and 273.5.

PC 234(e)(1) is known as the state’s Domestic Battery Law. Under this law, it is a crime for a person to willfully and unlawfully touch a certain person in a harmful or offensive way. The type of people that are included in this are:

• A person’s spouse or former spouse.
• A person’s cohabitant or former cohabitant.
• A person’s fiancé(e) or former fiancé(e).
• A person’s significant other or ex-significant other.
• The parent of a person’s child.

 
A key note for this law, is the fact that it does not matter if the victim of the incident suffers any injuries, serious or otherwise. The only requirement for this crime is that the person used force or violence against someone from the above list.

PC 273.5 is the state’s Corporal Injury to a Spouse Law. Under this law, it is illegal for a person to willfully inflict a corporal injury, serious or minor, onto anyone from the same list as above. This law is similar to the above law, but applies when the victim suffers an injury.

Examples of corporal injuries include:

• Broken bones.
• Bruises.
• Cuts.
• Scrapes.

 
Together, these two laws cover pretty much every act of domestic violence and determine what kind of consequences a person will face if they break the laws.

The Penalties for Domestic Violence

The consequences for domestic violence here in California vary depending on the facts of the case and the person’s criminal record. For instance, if the victim didn’t suffer any injuries, than the defendant will face lesser consequences than they would have if the victim had suffered some sort of injury.

Under PC 234(e)(1), domestic battery is a misdemeanor offense. This means that a person found guilty of this crime will face:

• Up to 1 year in county jail.
• A max fine of $2,000.
• Misdemeanor probation.

 
Typically, if assigned, the probation period will involve the person going to complete a 1 year batterer’s treatment program. This is simply a program to try and help teach a person to not harm their loved one’s in the future.

Sometimes, the court may decide to waive the fine and instead the convicted individual will have to pay up to $5,000 to a battered woman’s shelter and/or pay for any reasonable expenses that the victim might have had to pay as a result of the incident. This could include things such as counseling.

PC 273.5 is what is known as a wobbler offense. This means that a person accused of this crime could face either misdemeanor or felony charges. As a misdemeanor offense, a person faces:

• Up to 1 year in jail.
• A max fine of $6,000.

 

• As a felony offense, a person faces:
• 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison.
• A max fine of $6,000.

 
If the conviction for this occurs within 7 years of other felonies, including:

• Corporal injury of a spouse.
• Assault/battery resulting in serious injury.
• Assault/battery with a caustic chemical.
• Assault with a stun gun.
• Assault with a deadly weapon.
• Sexual battery.

 
Then the consequences for PC 273.5 increase to:

• Up to 1 year in county jail or 2, 4, or 5 years in a state prison.
• A max fine of $10,000.

 

Domestic Violence Is Against the Law

Getting hurt is always awful, but it is even worse when the person causing the pain is supposed to be someone that cares about you. That is what makes domestic violence so horrible, and why it is illegal here in California. Anyone who is caught hurting someone, especially someone close to them, will have to face the consequences.

If a person has found themselves in an abusive relationship and they are struggling to get out, they do not have to do so alone. There are places that can help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is a free, professional, 24 hour service that can be reached at their website, www.thehotline.org, or by calling 1-800-799-7233. The website recommends that if a person suspects that their internet usage is being monitored, to call the hotline instead.

What do you think of California’s domestic violence laws and their penalties? Do the laws cover everything? Do the penalties match the crime, or do they need to be changed

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