Domestic violence incidents are far too common in southern California, but so are fabricated claims of domestic violence. If you’re accused of committing a crime of domestic violence, you must have the advice and services of the right Long Beach criminal defense attorney.
Domestic violence is treated quite seriously in this state. Along with conventional criminal penalties like fines, jail, and probation, a domestic violence conviction carries additional repercussions. A conviction on any domestic violence charge may also result in:
1. losing the right to own or possess a firearm
2. losing parental child custody rights
3. if you are a professional, the suspension or revocation of your professional license
4. if you are an immigrant, the possibility of deportation
How Does California Handle Domestic Violence Claims?
Domestic violence is an imminent and genuine concern for thousands of California families, but fabricated domestic violence charges are also a serious concern. Such false charges are made for a variety of reasons – and sometimes, for no discernible reason whatsoever.
An ex-spouse might claim domestic violence to gain an advantage in a property or custody dispute. A resentful teen may bring a false accusation against a stepparent. Judges, defense lawyers, and family law attorneys regularly see these kinds of cases in the California courts.
Nonetheless, a call to the police that reports domestic violence will always be treated seriously, because if it isn’t, a tragedy could happen. If you are convicted of committing a crime of domestic violence, you cannot expect leniency from the system, because there won’t be any.
How Does California Law Define Domestic Violence?
In California, domestic violence is the abuse of an “intimate partner.” But what is the definition of abuse, and who is an intimate partner? In California law, an intimate partner may be:
1. the other parent of a defendant’s child or children
2. a former or current fiancé(e), spouse, or domestic partner
3. a former or current cohabiting romantic partner or “serious” dating partner
What Particular Crimes Are Crimes of Domestic Violence?
In this state, crimes of domestic violence include “inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner” and domestic battery, a misdemeanor charge, which is the unwanted and intentional touching of an intimate partner.
You don’t have to injure the intimate partner to be convicted of domestic battery. Merely touching that person in an unwanted way is sufficient to constitute domestic battery, which is a misdemeanor punishable on conviction with a maximum jail term of one year.
Any physical injury, whether or not it is a serious injury, constitutes inflicting corporal injury on an intimate partner. The charge is a “wobbler,” meaning that the crime may be charged as either a misdemeanor or as a felony hinging on the details of the charge and the prosecutor’s discretion.
A conviction on the felony charge is punishable with a maximum four-year prison term and/or a maximum fine of $6,000. A conviction for the charge as a misdemeanor is punishable with a maximum one-year jail term and/or a maximum fine of $6,000.
What Laws Protect Other Family and Household Members?
A number of laws protect other household and family members who are not intimate partners – children and the elderly – from domestic abuse crimes such as:
1. child abuse
2. child endangerment
3. child neglect
4. elder abuse
It is illegal to inflict any injury on a child. “Reasonable” spankings are exempted from the law, but inflicting cruelty or injury on a child is considered child abuse in California.
A first conviction for misdemeanor child abuse is punishable with up to a year in jail and a $6,000 fine. A felony conviction is punishable with a $6,000 fine and up to six years in jail, or ten years if the defendant has a prior felony child abuse conviction within the previous ten years.
Intentionally allowing a child to suffer harm or to have his or her safety or health placed at risk is the definition of child endangerment. If a child was placed at risk of “great bodily injury,” the crime is a “wobbler.” If not, it’s a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail.
If the charge is a felony, the penalties may include up to six years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
By intentionally failing to provide necessities like shelter, food, and healthcare to a minor child, a parent or guardian in California commits the crime of child neglect. Child neglect is a misdemeanor. A conviction may be penalized with a $2,000 fine and/or a year in jail.
Elder abuse is another wobbler charge in California. Emotional abuse, physical abuse, endangerment, or the neglect of a person age 65 or over, or financial fraud committed against someone 65 or over, constitutes elder abuse.
A misdemeanor elder abuse conviction is punishable with up to a year in jail. As a felony, an elder abuse conviction is punishable with up to four years in prison.
What Will a Defense Attorney Do on Your Behalf?
If you are charged with any of the domestic violence crimes discussed here, the right defense attorney will find the weakness in the prosecution’s case and cast doubt on the evidence and testimony presented against you.
After reviewing the facts in the case, your attorney will develop an appropriate and effective defense on your behalf. If you are the victim of a fabricated domestic violence claim, a good defense attorney will discredit that claim and get to the truth.
What is the best defense against a charge of domestic violence? That depends on the details of the charge and the nature of the evidence against you.
Fight the Charge With the Right Attorney’s Help
If you’re accused of a domestic violence crime and you are innocent, contest the charge. But whether you’re guilty or innocent, you must be represented by a California defense lawyer who has substantial experience handling domestic violence cases.
First, your attorney will seek to have the prosecutor drop the charge or to have the court dismiss the case. If those options are not available, you should insist on a jury trial, where your attorney will explain to the jurors why they should find you not guilty.
Whether the claim against you is fabricated or true, if you are accused of committing any of these crimes in southern California, put your case at once in the hands of the right Long Beach criminal defense attorney – an attorney who will bring the matter to its best possible outcome.