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California Domestic Violence Laws

Posted on Mar 5th, 2024 by Super User 239 Views

Arguments are inevitable when you spend much time with a loved one. It is wise to stay calm in any argument. Otherwise, you could find yourself charged with domestic violence and detained. Many legal strategies to handle the criminal charge include hiring a Temecula bail bond agent to post your bail in court as you await your trial. Please read this blog post to learn about California domestic violence laws, potential penalties, and how to fight the charges.

Defining California Domestic Violence

According to Penal Code Section 13700, domestic violence is abuse a defendant commits against an intimate partner. The accused commits abuse when they recklessly or deliberately apply or threaten to apply bodily force against their intimate partner.

Your intimate partner can be any of the following:

  • A former or current spouse.
  • A former or current registered domestic partner.
  • A former or current fiance(e).
  • A person you are dating or have previously dated.

On top of an intimate partner, alleged victims of domestic violence can also include your baby or any other individual related by marriage (affinity) or consanguinity (blood), including:

  • Siblings.
  • Half-siblings.
  • Step-siblings.
  • Grandchildren.
  • Grandparents.
  • Uncles and aunts.
  • Nieces and nephews.

Typical Types of Domestic Violence Crimes

Most domestic violence (DV) crimes involve battery, threats, neglect, and abuse.

Some are felonies, while others are misdemeanors. Only corporal injury to an inhabitant or spouse under Penal Code Section 273.5 is a California felony. The following domestic violence crimes are wobblers (the prosecutor can choose to charge them as a California felony or misdemeanor based on the case facts, the severity of the victim’s injuries, and the criminal record):

  • Child abuse.
  • Elder abuse.
  • Child endangerment.
  • Stalking.
  • Criminal threats.
  • Aggravated trespass.

Corporal Injury to an Inhabitant or Spouse

Under Penal Code Section 273.5, it is unlawful to cause corporal injuries. The judge can convict you even if the corporal injury is slight. The law considers an injury corporal if:

  • The traumatic condition was a probable and natural consequence of the physical injury.
  • The injury was a significant and direct factor in causing the traumatic condition.
  • The traumatic condition would not have occurred if the injury had not happened.

Examples of corporal injuries include a bone fracture, bruise, concussion, cut, internal bleeding, and bullet wound.

The crime is a California felony. A first-time offense carries a maximum of ten thousand dollars in fines and four years in state prison.

Domestic Battery

You violated PC 243e1 when you willfully touched your intimate partner in an offensive or harmful manner, and you were not acting in self-defense or that of another.

The prosecutor does not have to prove that your touch resulted in physical injuries to the victim or hurt them. Even a slight touch is enough to be a crime, provided you did it angrily or rudely.

The crime is a California misdemeanor carrying the following potential penalties:

  • A year in jail.
  • A $2,000 fine.

The court can choose to impose a summary probation instead of serving time. If placed on probation, you should complete a batterer’s treatment program. If the program is unavailable, you should complete another appropriate counseling program.

Child Abuse

PC 273d is the California child abuse legal provision that makes it an offense to willfully inflict on a minor inhuman or brutal corporal injury or punishment leading to a traumatic condition.

Instances of child abuse can include the following:

  • Slapping your child so hard that you leave a mark.
  • Using a belt to hit your child harder than is reasonable to discipline them.

Spanking your child is not child abuse, provided it is not excessive under the circumstances and is for disciplinary purposes.

The term “willfully” means you engaged in corporal punishment on purpose. It is not a must that you plan to break PC 273d or injure the juvenile.

The criminal activity is a wobbler. A first-time charge is always a misdemeanor. It is punishable by a one-year jail sentence and a six-thousand-dollar fine. However, the crime becomes a felony if the following applies:

  • The conduct was cruel.
  • The injuries to the minor were very severe.
  • You have at least one previous conviction for child abuse or related crime.

The potential penalties of a felony charge can include the following:

  • A $6,000 fine.
  • Two, four, or six years jail term.

Please note that the judge can increase the jail term by four years if you have a previous child abuse conviction.

Child Endangerment

PC 273a makes it illegal to deliberately place a minor in a situation that threatens their safety and health. It includes imposing unjustifiable pain, danger, or suffering on the juvenile. It is not a must that the minor suffer physical harm; its risk is sufficient.

Unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering means suffering or pain that is:

  • unreasonable, essential, or
  • excessive under the case circumstances.

PC 273a penalties vary significantly depending on whether your conduct resulted in the minor’s demise or great bodily harm.

You will face a misdemeanor if your actions did not create a risk of death or great bodily injuries. You will spend six months in county jail and pay a $1,000 fine if found guilty.

The crime becomes a wobbler if there is an identified risk of considerable physical injury or death to the minor. A felony carries a ten-thousand-dollar fine and a six-year imprisonment. The judge can choose to impose a four-year formal probation instead of incarceration.

Electronic Cyber Harassment Law

PC 653.2 makes it illegal to send electronic communications intending to impose reasonable fear for their safety on the recipient.

Electronic communication devices include telephones, computers, websites, fax machines, video recorders, and personal data assistants.

Prosecutors often charge this crime when a defendant uses the internet to seek vengeance on another in a domestic dispute. The crime is a California misdemeanor. It is punishable by:

  • A one-year county jail sentence.
  • A $1,000 fine.
  • Summary probation.

Child Neglect

You violate PC 270 when you deliberately fail to offer your child necessities like shelter, food, clothing, or medicine as a legal guardian or parent.

When determining your guilt and ability to support your child, the court will consider your income, including gifts and social insurance benefits. 

Generally, PC 270 violations are misdemeanors. The crime carries a year in jail and a maximum of two thousand dollars in fines.

Nevertheless, the crime becomes a felony if you fail to offer care after the judge decides that you are a parent. It would occur, for example, if:

  • The court, in a paternity lawsuit, decides that the minor was the child’s father, and
  • The father refused to offer the child’s necessities.

A felony attracts the following possible penalties:

  • A maximum $2,000 fine.
  • A year in jail or a year plus a day in prison.

Elder Abuse

PC 368 makes it an offense to subject a person older than 65 to unjustifiable mental suffering or physical pain with criminal negligence or willingly.

Criminal negligence means your conduct was so unreasonable that it reflects a disregard for human life.

Elder abuse could imply the following:

  • Physical abuse — Inflicting injuries or pain on the victim.
  • Neglect and endangerment — Placing an older adult in a situation that can endanger their safety and health.
  • Emotional abuse — Ridicule or isolation.
  • Financial exploitation — Elder financial abuse or senior fraud.

The crime is a wobbler. It becomes a felony if the conduct is likely to result in death or great bodily injuries.

A misdemeanor conviction attracts paying restitution to the alleged victim, a $6,000 fine, and a one-year county jail sentence. On the other hand, a felony carries the following:

  • Four years in California state prison.
  • Ten thousand dollars in fine.
  • Victim restitution.

Violation of PC 368 is a crime involving moral turpitude and can lead to an immigrant being marked as inadmissible or deported.

Criminal Threats

According to PC 422, criminal threats are threats of great bodily injury or death intended to place the alleged victim in sustained or reasonable fear for their safety or that of their family members. 

You can be charged with PC 422 whether or not you can execute your threats, even if you do not intend to carry them out.

The crime is a wobbler. A misdemeanor attracts a year in county jail, while a felony is punishable by a four-year prison sentence. Using a deadly or dangerous weapon can enhance your sentence by a year.

Since the crime is a strike per the three-strike law, you should serve more than 85% of your sentence before qualifying for release.

California Stalking

You violate Penal Code Section 646.9 PC when you follow, harass, and threaten a person to the extent that the individual has concerns for their safety.

Please note that you are not guilty of stalking if you engage in a constitutionally protected activity like lawfully protesting, engaging in an assembly, or exercising your free speech.

Stalking is a wobbler. A misdemeanor attracts a one-year jail term, a one-thousand-dollar fine, and summary probation. On the other hand, a felony carries five years in California state prison, felony probation, and a $1,000 fine.

The crime also carries adverse immigration and gun rights consequences.

On top of criminal penalties, the victim can sue you in civil court for compensatory and punitive damages.

Revenge Porn

PC 647(j)(4) makes it a crime to distribute a photo of the intimate parts of another identifiable individual or your image engaging in oral copulation, sexual penetration, masturbation, sodomy, or sexual intercourse without the other party’s consent, intending to cause them emotional distress.

The crime is a misdemeanor punishable by a one-thousand-dollar fine and six months in jail. However, the judge can enhance these penalties to a $2,000 fine and a year in county jail if the alleged victim is a child or you have at least one revenge porn prior conviction.

Additional Penalties and Repercussions of a Conviction

A domestic violence conviction can lead to more than paying fines and incarceration. The section below discusses the other consequences and penalties of a conviction.

Compulsory Minimum Jail Time

Many judges require domestic violence defendants to spend at least thirty days in jail. It applies even when the criminal charges are a California misdemeanor and a first-time crime.

Paying Domestic Violence Fund and Victim Restitution

If a defendant is sentenced for DV, they should pay five hundred dollars to fund California’s domestic violence programs.

Additionally, the judge can order them to pay restitution, which includes the following:

  • The victim’s lost income.
  • The victim’s property damage.
  • The victim’s mental health/psychological counseling/psychiatric.
  • The victim’s medical expenses.

Participating in a Batterers’  Treatment Program

After your conviction, the judge will order you to complete a one-year counseling and treatment program.

You must attend the program regardless of whether the judge imposes felony or summary probation instead of serving time.

A Criminal Record

All domestic violence convictions carry a criminal record. Any person who conducts your background check can see your conviction, making it challenging to acquire the following:

  • State licensing.
  • Employment.
  • Housing.
  • Education opportunities in the future.

Losing Custody Rights

Typically, domestic violence defendants are banned from obtaining custody of minor children. However, they can acquire visitation rights.

Protective Orders

The law allows domestic violence victims to seek emergency restraining orders. They can obtain a restraining order in either criminal or civil court.

Please note that the victim doesn't need to prove physical harm to acquire the restraining order against the accused. All they require is demonstrating that:

  • You threatened to abuse or abused them or their minor child.
  • You are their relative or intimate partner.

Violating your protective court order is a misdemeanor, provided you did not injure the victim.

Immigration Penalties

Most domestic violence convictions are crimes involving moral turpitude per United States immigration law or aggravated felonies. A conviction can subject an immigrant to inadmissibility in the U.S. and deportation.

Before taking a guilty plea, it is wise to consult a defense lawyer. The attorney can engage in plea bargain negotiations to avoid the adverse immigration penalties of a conviction.

Loss of Firearm Rights

A conviction will almost lead to the loss of your firearm rights.

Law enforcers should temporarily cease any gun:

  • At a domestic violence crime scene that involves physical assault or a risk to human life, or
  • When serving you with a protective order.

Per PC 29805, many misdemeanor domestic violence convictions lead to a 10-year firearm ban. However, you will lose your firearm rights if convicted of PC 273.5.

Under PC 29800, felons in California are banned from legally possessing or owning a gun for life.

The federal laws impose a lifetime gun ban once you are convicted of DV. Only a presidential pardon can lift the federal ban.

Fighting Your Domestic Violence Criminal Charges

Discussed below are ways domestic violence defense lawyers use to beat criminal charges.

Using Legal Defense Approaches and Strategies

Some of the most effective legal defenses include the following:

  • The victim’s injuries were due to an accident.
  • You were defending yourself or another person.
  • You are a victim of false accusations due to jealousy, anger, vengeance, or attempts to obtain an advantage in child custody or divorce proceedings.
  • Your conduct did not cause the victim’s injuries.

Your lawyer will use evidence like surveillance videos, medical records, and eyewitness accounts to fight the charges effectively. Forensic witness experts can also argue that the alleged victim’s injuries were due to an accident or self-inflicted.

Plea Bargain Negotiations

Your attorney could engage in plea bargaining for a less severe crime. It will assist you in preventing the negative repercussions of conviction and stigma.

Two common lesser crimes you can plead to are as follows:

  • California PC 602 — Criminal trespass.
  • PC 415 — Disturbing the peace.

Benefits of accepting the prosecutor’s plea offer of a lesser charge include:

  • You will not automatically lose your custody rights.
  • Retaining your right to possess a gun.
  • No admissibility or deportation for non-American citizens.

Pre-Trial Diversion

Your legal defense lawyer can work to obtain a deferred entry of judgment or a pretrial diversion program.

Regarding the diversion program, the court will dismiss your charges upon completing a domestic batterer program. The charges will stop existing for many purposes.

Qualifying for the diversion program depends on the following:

  • The exact charges.
  • Your place of residence.
  • Your criminal record.

Contact a Skilled Bail Bondsman Near Me

You are probably scared and do not know where to turn after your domestic violence arrest in Temecula. Like many defendants, you might not have experience dealing with California’s justice system. Luckily, Justice Bail Bonds can guide you throughout the process. The judge will set your bail amount before releasing you from detention as you await your trial. If you cannot afford the entire bail bond, we can post it on your behalf for a non-refundable premium. We can also offer flexible payment plans to make the process more manageable for you and your loved ones. Please contact us at 714-541-1155 to learn how we can help secure a prompt release that allows you to return to work, build your case defense, and fight for your rights and freedom. We can also answer all your questions.

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For faster service please call 951-445-4155 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you or a loved one has been arrested and need to be bailed out quickly and confidentially or if you simply have questions regarding bail, an arrest, or inmate information please do not hesitate to call or fill out our contact us form. We are available 24/7 for all of your bail needs. 


For faster service please call 951-445-4155 24 hours a day, seven days a week if you or a loved one has been arrested and need to be bailed out quickly and confidentially or if you simply have questions regarding bail, an arrest, or inmate information please do not hesitate to call or fill out our contact us form. We are available 24/7 for all of your bail needs.