If you face charges for domestic violence in California, you are most likely wondering what kind of punishment you could receive if convicted. Of course, you hope to see the charges dismissed or receive an acquittal at trial, but you should be aware of the possible penalties in case of a conviction.
Understanding California law
California law has two main penal codes that address domestic violence:
- Section 243(e) – This is a misdemeanor charge of battery of a cohabitant or spouse and tends to include minor incidents. Penalties may include a fine of up to $2,000 and up to one year in jail.
- Section 273.5 – This section can be brought either as a misdemeanor or a felony charges of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant that results in a traumatic condition. Penalties can include either jail time of up to one year or prison time of up to five years and can include a fine of up to $10,000.
Other penalties may include:
- Probation – You may end up serving some or all of your sentence on probation. Probation often requires that you follow strict rules and you may not own a firearm while on probation. In addition, you will likely have to attend a batterer’s treatment program and pay restitution.
- Batterer’s treatment program – As noted above, if you are on probation, you may have to attend a state-approved program.
- Victim restitution – You may have to pay restitution for property damage, hospital bills, counseling or other expenses. You may also have to pay into a fund for a battered women’s shelter.
These cases tend to be very fact-specific. The facts of your case will likely determine whether you face misdemeanor or felony charges. A felony is more serious and has far-reaching consequences now and in the future. Having a felony record can impact your life for years to come.
Other consequences that could affect your life
Direct legal penalties are not the only possible consequences you may face. A domestic violence conviction could affect your reputation, your family relationships and even your job. Certain licensed professionals may find themselves before their respective licensing boards. Green card holders could face deportation. Parents can face changes to their custody arrangements. You may have to abide by a restraining order. For these reasons, the specific charges you face and the outcome of your case are critical.