When discussing domestic violence laws in California, it is crucial to understand what this really means. This term does not only refer to physical abuse. In fact, the California domestic violence laws encompasses emotional, financial, and sexual abuse as well. Additionally, threats of such types of abuses are also considered under these laws.
To qualify as domestic violence, the actions must be perpetrated against an “intimate partner,” so it’s essential to understand what this means.
Who Is an Intimate Partner in California?
Under California law, the following individuals are considered intimate partners in regards to domestic violence charges:
- Current or former spouse
- Registered domestic partner (both past and present)
- Someone you were formerly engaged to or cohabited within romantic terms
- Individuals with whom you have shared children
- A person you’re currently dating or had a serious relationship with in the past
If the alleged victim is not an intimate partner, you can still be charged with a crime for any alleged violent actions, but it won’t be considered domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Can Be a Misdemeanor, Felony, or Wobbler in California
Wobblers are violations that can be prosecuted either as felonies or misdemeanors depending on a variety of circumstances surrounding your case. Factors considered include, your past criminal history to the vulnerability of the alleged victim or the extent of harm suffered.
Inflicting Corporal Injury on an Intimate Partner
One of the most frequent domestic violence crimes charged in California is Inflicting Corporal Injury on an Intimate Partner. It encompasses any physical harm willfully done to someone considered an intimate partner according to the law. To be convicted of this crime, there must be a physical injury on the alleged victim, though this can be as minor as a small scratch.
This offense is always charged as a felony. As such, it carries significant potential penalties if you are convicted.
For instance, first-time offenders facing this charge could be sentenced to up to 4 years in prison and/or be required to pay fines reaching $6,000.
Domestic battery is another common domestic violence crime in California. It requires inflicting force or physical violence upon an intimate partner, though actual physical injury does not have to occur like it does with inflicting corporal injury charges.
This type of offense is considered a wobbler, as it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
As a misdemeanor, potential consequences include up to one year in jail and/or fines reaching $2,000.
If the victim suffers serious injuries, it will be charged as a felony, which carries imprisonment of up to 4 years and/or a fine of up to $10,000.
Other Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction in California
Domestic violence charges in California can have far-reaching repercussions that go beyond jail sentences and fines. These consequences include:
Child Custody Issues
If convicted, you might find yourself dealing with difficulties related to child custody. Courts tend to be wary about granting custody or unsupervised visitation rights to parents convicted of abuse.
In terms of employment, certain professions might become off-limits for you based on a domestic violence conviction – particularly those involving care-giving roles and licensure.
Batterer’s Intervention Program
The court may also mandate participation in a batterer’s intervention program, which is a form of counseling intended to help prevent future violent behavior.
Domestic Violence Restraining Order
A judge might also place a restraining order against you. This dictates that you must stay away from the victim and can limit your access to shared places like a home or school.
If you’re not a U.S. citizen, domestic violence convictions could affect your immigration status, including deportation or denial of naturalization. Seeking professional legal help is always advisable in such circumstances.
What to Do if You Are Involved in Domestic Violence
It is important to get the help you need if you are involved with domestic violence. A skilled lawyer can guide and defend you through this complicated process and mitigate the potential consequences that could drastically impact your life. For help, contact an experienced California criminal defense lawyer for a free consultation.
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