California’s domestic violence laws seek to punish abusers who harm spouses, intimate partners or family members. The U.S. Department of Justice defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior where one partner tries to gain control over another. Many types of abuse are included:
Definition of victims in domestic abuse cases
Anyone can be a victim of domestic abuse regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion and socioeconomic background. While the term used to only apply to spouses, it has been updated to include others, such as:
- Intimate partners
- Family members
Specific California charges and penalties related to domestic violence
Domestic violence is a broad term under California statutes. Some of the common offenses in these cases involve felonies and misdemeanors. These include:
- Corporal injury: Cases involving physical harm are typically charged as felonies with a possible penalty of up to four years in prison.
- Domestic battery: This misdemeanor charge involves inflicting violence or force on an intimate partner. No visible injury is required, and a penalty of one year in jail and a $2,000 fine is possible.
- Child abuse: A first offense can be punishable from one to three years behind bars depending upon whether physical harm is present. Any punishment deemed “cruel” is considered child abuse.
- Elder abuse: A misdemeanor conviction can result in up to one year in jail, while felonies can bring up to four years in prison for anyone found guilty of neglecting or abusing victims over age 65.
- Stalking: Harassing or threatening a partner or family member, causing them to fear for their safety, can result in one to three years behind bars depending upon whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony.
Be proactive if you are charged with a domestic violence offense
Domestic violence charges are justified in some cases. However, many defendants find themselves in legal jeopardy after being falsely accused, or when a simple misunderstanding or argument results in a physical confrontation and police are called. Once that happens, neither you nor your accuser is in control of whether charges are filed.
Prosecutors typically seek the harshest penalties possible in these cases, and judges generally impose strict sentences. A successful defense can take a lot of time and hard work by an experienced San Diego defense attorney. Contacting a lawyer who understands how these cases are prosecuted as soon as possible is vital to the best possible outcome.