Being arrested for domestic violence in Los Angeles California is enough to completely turn your life upside down. The first few days after a domestic violence arrest are critical in terms of gathering evidence, interviewing potentially helpful witnesses, and preparing a strong defense against the charges. Consider hiring an experienced Los Angeles Domestic Violence Lawyer right away, as you definitely need one.
The California Penal Code makes it illegal to physically attack or otherwise threaten an “intimate partner” of the accused. This can include: Spouses, Domestic partners, Individuals who are dating or previously dated, Individuals residing together, Parents and Children. Ultimately, domestic violence refers to situations where the abused individual and their abuser are related closely, whether it is through blood or marriage.
On this page we are discussing the crime of Domestic Violence in Los Angeles by shedding some light on what qualifies as domestic violence in California, then talking about the penalties and finally the legal defense strategies we use at LACD to defend our clients.
Continue reading to learn more about the types and charges of those crimes and how to defend yourself against them. Also consider calling us on (818) 855-2115 or through The Form on this page for a Free Legal Advice and Case Evaluation as you definitely need an experienced Los Angeles Domestic Violence lawyer to be on your side.
Laws of Domestic Violence in California
California Penal Code 13700 defines “domestic violence” as abuse committed against an intimate partner. A person commits “abuse” when he or she intentionally or recklessly uses, or threatens the use of, physical force against an intimate partner. An “intimate partner” is defined as: a current or former spouse, a current or former registered domestic partner, a current or former fiancé(e), a current or former live-in romantic partner (a “cohabitant”), a person with whom the accused has, or has had, a child, or someone the accused is seriously dating or was in a dating relationship with in the past.
The California Family Code has a longer list of people who can be considered victims of domestic violence. In addition to partners in an intimate relationship, victims can include: The defendant’s child, or Any other person related by to the defendant by consanguinity (blood) or affinity (marriage) within the second degree, including brothers and sisters, half-brothers and half-sisters, step-brothers and step-sisters, grandparents, grandchildren, aunts and uncles, and nephews and nieces.
What qualifies as domestic violence in California?
According to domestic violence/abuse laws in Los Angeles, California, there are a variety of different actions that qualify as domestic abuse. In addition to intentionally or recklessly harming (or attempting to harm) someone, the Los Angeles domestic violence law also says an action is domestic violence if it involves: Sexual assault. Threatening someone or making them unreasonably afraid that they or another individual will be severely hurt. Behavior like stalking, harassing, threatening, hitting another person, disturbing another individual’s peace, or destroying personal property
In many cases, domestic violence involves some sort of physical abuse. It’s important to note that physical abuse does not just refer to hitting – it can involve other harmful behavior like kicking, pushing, shoving, throwing things, or pulling hair. It can also refer to intentionally scaring or following another person, or the act of preventing someone from coming or going freely. California law also classifies physical abuse against family pets as domestic violence.
However, abuse does not have to be physical in order to be considered domestic violence. In fact, many domestic violence cases involve verbal abuse, as well as emotional or psychological trauma. The most important thing to remember about domestic violence is that someone does not have to be hit in order to be a victim.
Main and Related Crimes
Common domestic violence crimes in California include battery, abuse, threats, and neglect. Some of the crimes are misdemeanors, while others are felonies. Most of these crimes are considered “wobbler” offenses, meaning they can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony depending on various circumstances, the seriousness of the alleged victim’s injuries, and the defendant’s criminal record.
Below is another list of crimes which can be considered a domestic violence if committed against an Intimate Partner according to California Domestic Violence Laws:
- Penal Code 601: Aggravated Trespass
- Penal Code 422: Criminal Threats
- Penal Code 647(J)(4): Revenge Porn
- Penal Code 646.9: Stalking
- Penal Code 273A: Child Endangerment
- Penal Code 653.2: Posting Harmful Information On The Internet
Penalties and Consequences
PROBATION AND JAIL TIME FOR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTION
If convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence crime, such as PC 243(e)(1), domestic battery, you will typically be placed on probation for a specific amount of time.
Your probation can be unsupervised or supervised through the probation department and you must successfully complete all the terms and condition set by the court. You could be sentenced for up to one year in county jail, and a fined up to $6,000.
If convicted of a felony domestic violence, like Penal Code 273.5 corporal injury to a spouse, or Penal Code 422 criminal threats, you could be sentenced to up to six years in a California state prison.
There are also other types of California domestic violence that can result in probation or jail time. These include child abuse under Penal Code 273d, child endangerment under Penal Code 273a, and elder abuse described under Penal Code 368.
If you are charged with domestic violence within 7 years of a prior conviction, you could be facing increased penalties. Also, a felony domestic violence conviction might be considered a “strike” under California’s Three Strikes Law.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CONVICTION AND COLLATERAL CONSEQUENCES
California’s domestic violence laws carry serious consequences. Below are some of the worst case scenarios for someone arrested for a domestic violence crime. Given the seriousness of these consequences, it only makes sense to get the most experienced, aggressive, and competent criminal defense attorneys on your side as early as possible. Some of the most common consequences associated with domestic violence crimes include:
Many domestic violence crimes are “removable offenses,” meaning you can lose your current legal status in the United States or be deported.
- Loss of Freedom:
Any domestic violence felony carries a punishment of up to one year in the county jail or up to three years in state prison. Further, most domestic violence charges are ineligible for alternative jail programs like electronic monitoring or “weekend work” programs.
- Loss of Time:
All domestic violence charges carry a mandatory 52 week ‘Conflict & Accountability’ class as part of any probation.
- Loss of Money:
Fines of up to $10,000 can also be ordered in some cases.
- Loss of Career:
Charges of this type pose extreme risk to your career and financial livelihood.
- Disruption of Household:
Unless you are prepared, most judges will order a mandatory “stay away” order at your first court appearance. This order is even made when the parties co-parent a child or live in the same house.
Strategies and Legal Defenses
At LA Criminal Defenders (LACD), our domestic violence lawyers explore every potential defense for our clients. In fact, the first and most important step we take is to fully hear your side of the story. Some of the most common defenses we explore in domestic violence cases include:
People in the United States face false claims of family abuse or domestic violence all the time, and for a variety of reasons. This can be to obtain an advantage in family court, for example, to win custody proceedings if a divorce is pending. People also make false accusations of domestic violence as a form of revenge for some other issue in the relationship, for example, as payback for a discovery of cheating.
At LACD, we work closely with our clients to help them locate evidence for the possible motives for a false allegation of domestic violence. We also help to do a complete background check of the other party to see if they have engaged in these types of false reports in the past. We can even help to locate witnesses who can show evidence of a false allegation so that it can be presented to the DA as part of your defense.
When responding to domestic violence reports, police officers frequently have to make a rapid decision about who was the aggressor and who should be jailed. One of the things our clients mention the most frequently is how the arresting officer told them they “had to” conduct an arrest as soon as they noticed injuries on one of the parties.
Critical errors are frequently made when there is such pressure to make an arrest. When some of the parties involved do not speak English as their first language, these errors are made worse. In certain cases, one of the parties withholds information about the violence or injuries they personally experienced in an effort to “protect” their other.
At LACD, we’ll help you to prove the fact that any force used was actually in self-defense by having you document any injuries you received via photographs and medical records and transferring those information to the DA before charges are filed.
Accidental injuries happen frequently when people are arguing in a heated manner. We have seen several clients who were wrongly arrested for domestic violence by the police misinterpreting these accidental injuries as evidence of domestic battery.
In these situations, at LACD, we meet with the complaining witness and present the DA with fresh statements that show how the harm actually occurred. We are a multi-partner law firm, therefore in some circumstances, we can have one partner represent you while another partner represents your wounded spouse.
Frequently Asked Question
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in a relationship that is used by one partner to exert control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can take many forms, including:
- Physical abuse
- Sexual abuse
- Emotional abuse
- Economic abuse
- Psychological abuse
You can go to court to request a protection or restraining order, which requires your abuser to stay a certain number of feet away from you, your home, your school, your work, and your car. This doesn't stop an abuser from stalking or hurting you, but it does allow you to call the police to have the abuser arrested if he or she breaks the restraining or protection order and comes near you.
You can obtain a restraining order by filing the required legal papers with your local court. You'll have to follow your state law on the "ex parte" hearing without the other party and serve the abuser with a copy of the restraining order. The police can sometimes serve the restraining order papers for you.
Not unless you're a mandated reporter, which is a person who is required to report child or certain adult abuse because of their profession. Doctors, nurses, teachers, and daycare providers are often mandated reporters, but you should check the law in your state to learn whether you're considered a mandatory reporter.
Also, if the victim is under 18 years old, child abuse mandatory reporting laws apply. In some states, such as Texas, everyone must report child abuse.
If you're a victim of domestic violence, you don't have to report what happened to you. However, it's probably in your best interests to do so. In addition, you may want to report abuse once you're able to leave the relationship. On average, it takes a survivor seven attempts to permanently leave an abusive relationship, so don't be discouraged if you've tried leaving but returned.
Yes. As a victim of domestic violence, you can sue your abuser for your injuries in civil court, even if you've gone through criminal proceedings and lost. Some states still prohibit suing a family member for assault, battery, or other torts; but make sure you check the laws of your state regarding lawsuits.
All states have statutes of limitations (time limits) for filing claims, so you should seek a consultation as soon as possible.
Absolutely. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, including men. Men, women, children, teens, and people of every race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic background can be victims.
Domestic violence laws typically protect men and women equally. Most state laws are designed to protect victims, no matter what gender, from their abusers (of any gender).
If you're the victim of domestic violence, you may need legal help to protect you and your loved ones and possibly to pursue civil actions against your abuser. Since the law can be quite complex and since time can be of the essence, you may want to contact a qualified domestic violence attorney for help.
Our attorneys have over 55 years of combined criminal law experience and are ready to defend you. Call us right away (818) 855-2115, or fill the form on this page and we will contact you as soon as possible.
Legal Advice and Free Consultation
A domestic violence charge can have a severe impact on your life, especially if it involves physical abuse. You definitely need an experienced Los Angeles Domestic Violence lawyer to be on your side.
In addition to facing jail time and financial penalties, you could be slapped with a restraining order–and you might even lose the right to see your children. You could face serious penalties even if it turns out you were falsely accused.
You also have the option to schedule your 30 minutes face to face Free Consultation with your criminal lawyer through this link. Do not hesitate as we are more than happy to help.