In California, if the police are called to your home (or some other location) and believe that even the smallest instance of domestic violence has occurred, someone is going to jail. However, being arrested will only be the beginning of your problems.
If you are arrested for a domestic violence offense in California, not only can you be charged with a felony, the state can also take your children away and/or place a restraining order on you that will prevent you from returning to your own home, even if you are actually the victim.
In addition, a domestic violence conviction can show up on any background or criminal record check you undergo, resulting in other collateral consequences, such as difficulty finding employment and/or obtaining a professional license. What’s more, a conviction can bar you from ever owning a firearm.
This is why it is extremely important to contact an experienced California domestic violence defense lawyer as soon as you are released from jail. An experienced defense lawyer will take immediate steps to get the charge dismissed and/or to mitigate the possible consequences.
If you or a loved one has been charged with domestic violence under California Penal Code 273.5, or any other California domestic violence statute, contact The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian. We offer a free, no-obligation consultation where we can discuss how we can defend the charge against you.
California Penal Code 273.5
California Penal Code 273.5, referred to as Domestic Violence or Corporal Injury to a Spouse, makes it a crime to willfully inflict injury on a person, such as a spouse or former spouse, a fiancé or fiancée, a current or former girlfriend or boyfriend, a cohabitant, or a person with whom you have a child.
To be convicted under CPC 273.5, the district attorney must prove that:
- You willfully committed the offense
- The victim suffered a traumatic condition
- You were not acting in self-defense
A traumatic condition can be a black eye, severe laceration, or broken bone, but doesn’t have to be a serious injury. Any sort of scratch, redness, or swelling can constitute an injury for the purposes of a conviction.
The Penalties If Convicted Under CPC 273.5
State laws impose harsh penalties on those convicted of domestic violence and local law enforcement agencies are quick to arrest anyone that they think is the main aggressor in a physical altercation between domestic partners.
A violation of CPC 273.5 is a wobbler offense, meaning that the crime can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity of the victim’s injuries and any aggravating circumstances.
The possible penalties if convicted of a misdemeanor under CPC 273.5 include:
- A maximum sentence of 1 year in a county jail;
- Up to $6000 in various fines; and
- A mandatory 52-week batterers’ intervention program
For a felony conviction, the possible penalties will include:
- 2 – 4 years in a California State Prison;
- Up to $6000 in fines; and
- A mandatory 52-week batterers’ intervention program
In addition, the sentence may include a period of probation, community service, or some other method or type punishment. What’s more, the penalties can be enhanced if the victim suffered great bodily injury or if you have a prior conviction for a related offense, such as assault, battery, or a lesser domestic violence offense.
Defending a Domestic Violence Charge in California
There is a common misconception that if the alleged victim changes their mind about the domestic violence allegations, a domestic violence charge will go away. This, however, is not the case in California.
Even if the alleged victim changes their mind and refuses to press charges, the charge may still be prosecuted. This is because, in California, once the police submits a report of domestic violence, only the district attorney can decide if the charge will be prosecuted or not. This is where an experienced California domestic violence defense lawyer can help.
After you are arrested, there is a period of time before formal charges will be filed against you. During this time, your lawyer can contact the district attorney and present certain defenses to the alleged offense that may result in the charge being dismissed or downgraded.
For example, the alleged victim may have falsified the allegations and domestic violence may not have occurred at all. In other cases, instead of being guilty of domestic violence, you may have been acting in self-defense.
Finally, the police may not have adequately investigated the allegations or may not have enough evidence to prove that domestic violence actually occurred. In order to be convicted of domestic violence under CPC 273.5, the district attorney must be able to prove each and every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
Contact An Experienced California Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
When domestic disputes become highly emotional, claims of domestic violence are often exaggerated or falsified. Nevertheless, once you have been arrested and charged with domestic violence, it can be an uphill battle to stay out of jail and clear your name.
Therefore, if you or a loved one has been charged with domestic violence under California Penal Code 273.5, or with any other California domestic violence offense, it is imperative that you contact The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian as soon as possible, so that we can assess the circumstances of your case, advise you how to best defend the charge, and guide you through the process.