Many factors determine whether a person accused of a domestic violence offense faces misdemeanor or felony charges in California. Felony charges typically result when serious physical injuries are inflicted on spouses, children, partners or any other household members.
Misdemeanor convictions bring up to six months in county jail and a $2,000 fine. Felonies can result in three years or more behind bars and fines between $2,000 and $10,000. However, the repercussions go far beyond and can ruin a person’s life even if the injuries resulted from an accident or they were falsely accused.
Specific charges related to domestic violence
Domestic violence charges typically result from an underlying charge, such as assault and battery, which are considered two separate crimes in California. When domestic violence is alleged in assault and battery cases in California, prosecutors can choose to charge a defendant with:
- Misdemeanor battery
- Misdemeanor domestic violence battery
- Misdemeanor or felony battery with intent to inflict serious bodily harm
- Misdemeanor or felony willful battery leading to “corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition”
Prosecutors nearly always treat cases involving corporal injuries as felonies. Domestic battery is a “wobbler,” meaning it’s up to prosecutors to decide whether these accusations are tried as misdemeanors or felonies.
Defending against domestic violence accusations
Pleading guilty or a conviction for misdemeanors or felonies can cause devastating consequences. In addition to jail time, fines, restraining orders, lost child custody, firearms restrictions and immigration repercussions, as well as someone’s reputation being destroyed. An experienced San Diego domestic violence attorney can pursue many defenses, including:
- False accusations
- The injuries were the result of an accident
- You were not responsible for the injuries
- You were protecting yourself or others
- Police investigative errors
Experienced legal defense is a must
Domestic violence cases are complex, and multiple charges can result from one incident. Knowledgeable lawyers, especially those who are former prosecutors, understand how these cases work. They can disprove allegations and spot flawed or incomplete evidence.
It’s essential to contact a lawyer immediately if you are arrested or if charges are possible. In addition to aggressively disputing allegations and evidence, knowledgeable defense means pursuing reduced penalties and charges, or in many cases, programs that can result in lesser penalties with an outcome that allows you to achieve a fresh start.