Domestic Violence charges in California can happen to anyone at any time who is in a relationship or cohabitation with a significant other. Case in point: It appears that former USC wide receiver and NFL Superbowl Champion wide receiver, Keyshawn Johnson, caught a new misdemeanor domestic battery charge as a result of a domestic dispute at his home in Calabasas, California. (See http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/21/showbiz/keyshawn-johnson-arrested/) Without knowing the nature of the dispute, it is hard to determine the validity of such charges but I am sure Mr. Johnson will be retaining the services of a qualified California criminal defense attorney.
1. Felony Domestic Violence Charge in California
Under California Penal Code section 273.5, a) Any person who willfully inflicts upon a person who is his or her spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or the mother or father of his or her child, corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition, is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years, or in a county jail for not more than one year, or by a fine of up to six thousand dollars ($6,000) or by both that fine and imprisonment.
California Penal Code section 273.5 is a “wobbler” which means a person can be charged and/or convicted under Penal Code section 273.5 as either a felony or a misdemeanor. In many cases in California, the County where a case is charged can dictate whether a prosecutor seeks to obtain a misdemeanor or felony domestic violence conviction. If you are facing charges in certain parts of Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, Ventura and San Diego County, often times prosecutors will file felony charges where the defendant has a prior record of violence or domestic abuse and/or where the alleged victim has visible and/or significant injuries as a result of the domestic dispute.
If a person is facing felony domestic violence charges, it is important to immediately contact and consult with a competent criminal defense attorney in California who has experience defending felony charges and getting such charges reduced to a misdemeanor and/or dismissed.
2. Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Charges in California
Often times a seasoned California Criminal Defense attorney can take very serious domestic violence charges, where a defendant is looking at felony conviction and prison time, and have the charge reduced to a misdemeanor. Reduction of charges can occur through a motion to the Court under Penal Code section 17(b) based on the facts and circumstances of the case, but in most instances reduction to a misdemeanor occurs through a negotiation between the prosecutor and the defendant’s criminal defense attorney.
If a district attorney does agree to reduce a felony domestic violence charge to a misdemeanor, they will seek conditions of probation related to domestic violence. In most instances, a prosecutor will seek conditions of summary and/or informal misdemeanor probation which will include 52 domestic violence classes, anger management and sometimes parenting classes. An experienced criminal defense attorney will agree to such conditions in many instances in lieu of their client doing jail time. All such conditions are up for negotiation between a prosecutor and an experienced California Criminal Defense Attorney.
In addition, when a person is arrested for domestic violence, they will often be served with a no contact and/or stay order from the alleged victim. In many instances, the alleged victim is a spouse, girlfriend/boyfriend or cohabitant who wants to still have contact with the defendant. A criminal defense lawyer can also negotiate the terms of a no contact order for the duration of a case with the District Attorney and in many instances subject to the approval of a Court who in most instances will allow contact pursuant to an agreement with the District Attorney or upon a request by the alleged victim.
IMPORTANCE OF RETAINING A CALIFORNIA CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY FAMILIAR WITH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES WHEN ARRESTED FOR ALLEGATIONS OF DOMESTIC ABUSE
Domestic violence and related assault charges are very serious and tough to face unless you find a competent Criminal Defense Attorney to defend you and let you know all the avenues you have to successfully defend against criminal misdemeanor or felony charges. Retaining an attorney familiar with the laws of the State of California related to domestic abuse can mean the difference between a lengthy jail sentence or freedom.