Generally, charges of domestic violence are filed as a misdemeanor. These charges can lead to significant penalties, including fines, time in county jail and probation. However, some accusations of domestic violence can lead to felony charges, the most severe type of criminal charge. What should those facing domestic violence charges know about felony and misdemeanor charges?
When might domestic violence accusations lead to felony charges?
Whether a domestic violence charge is a misdemeanor or felony depends on the exact circumstances of the charge. When the authorities accuse someone of corporal injury under California Penal Code Section 273.5, for example, those charges may be filed as either a misdemeanor or felony. Domestic violence accusations involving a weapon like a gun may also be charged as a felony. These charges lead to more severe consequences, including time in state prison, losing the ability to vote and other life-changing penalties.
Charges are often subject to the prosecutor’s discretion.
In California law, some charges can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. These charges include spousal battery, sexual battery, assault with a deadly weapon and stalking, all of which could be factors in an accusation of domestic violence. Depending on the case, judges may reduce these felonies — sometimes called “wobblers” — to a misdemeanor.
When facing “wobbler” domestic violence charges, working with an experienced attorney can be essential. Your lawyer can examine the details of your case to build a strong defense, and they may be able to argue for the charges to be reduced or dropped entirely. With the right legal strategy, it is possible for people facing domestic violence charges at any level to protect their rights and their freedom.