If you have been charged and/or arrested for domestic violence, you need the immediate consultation and expertise of a criminal defense attorney who will competently and aggressively defend your rights. Often times, persons accused of such crimes jeopardize their case by doing things prior to consulting with a lawyer, including contacting and leaving messages with the alleged victim, which may later hinder there chances of getting the best possible results in their case, namely DISMISSAL of the charges.
In California, especially after the OJ Simpson case, prosecutors and police take complaints of domestic violence very seriously and often times seek inappropriate penalties for technical violations of the law.
Generally, spousal abuse could be any type of battery committed against a spouse. The case can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the seriousness of the injuries to the spouse. Domestic violence includes a battery, threat or abuse against a cohabitant, child abuse, elder abuse, abuse against a boyfriend or girlfriend who are living together, along with abuse to a husband or wife. Whether or not a domestic violence charge will be filed as a misdemeanor or felony depends on the type of injury incurred by an alleged victim.
Legal Definitions of Domestic Abuse Charges under California Penal Laws
California Penal Code §13700(b), defines “domestic violence” as “abuse committed against an adult or a minor who is a spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or person with whom the suspect has had a child or is having or has had a dating or engagement relationship.” California Penal Code 13700(a) defines “abuse” as “intentionally or recklessly causing or attempting cause bodily injury, or placing another person in reasonable apprehension of imminent serious bodily injury to himself, herself or another person.”
In addition, situations which lead up to or follow “domestic violence” can lead to other, related violations of the criminal laws of the State of California, including the following:
- California Penal Code 273.5: Inflicting corporal injury on a spouse, cohabitant or co-parent
- California Penal Code 243(e): “Simple Battery” (defined as the willful use of force or violence) against a “spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, co-parent, fiance′ or fiancee′, or a person withe whom the defendant has or has had a previous dating or engagement relationship.” A defendant will usually be charged with this rather than P.C. 273.5 where the “force or violence” doesn’t result in physical injury. With physical injuries, the charge is usually P.C. 273.5.
- California Penal Code 646.9: “Stalking” (defined as “willfully, maliciously and repeatedly” following or harassing another person and making a credible threat to place that person or his or her family in reasonable fear for their safety.
- California Penal Code 422: “Criminal threats”, defined as intentional threats to commit a crime that may result in serious bodily injury or death and thereby placing them in reasonable fear for their safety or the safety of their immediate family.
- California Penal Code 240: “Assault” defined as an unlawful attempt coupled with a present ability to commit a violent injury upon another person.
- California Penal Code 278, 278.5: Child abduction.
- California Penal Code 647: Disturbing the peace.
- California Penal Code 273.6: Violation of a domestic violence protective order.
Importance of Retaining a Criminal Defense Attorney Familiar with Domestic Violence Cases:
Domestic violence and related criminal charges can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies depending upon many factors. Any conviction can lead to jail or prison time, mandatory anger management classes, fines and other punishments. Many people believe that if the alleged victim (spouse, girlfriend, etc.) simply “recants” or requests that the charges be “dropped”, the matter will go away. This is simply not the case. The District Attorney has the sole discretion to dismiss such charges and can and will use 911 calls and witness statements at the scene to prosecute these claims, despite any later “change of heart”.
Read more about domestic violence charges in the following blog posts:
Leib Law has successfully defended Domestic Violence/Spousal Abuse cases throughout California, including Los Angeles, Orange County and the Inland Empire and has obtained results ranging from reduction to misdemeanors, not guilty trial verdicts on felony spousal abuse charges, diversion of charges and dismissal of charges. In addition, Leib Law has successfully defended clients in serious domestic violence cases helping persons completely avoid jail.
If charged with such an offense, please contact our office as soon as possible so that we may provide you a free phone or office consultation and inform you of the best steps to take in order to protect your rights.
Contact us about your legal matter today!