Domestic violence describes a broad category of crimes tried in the state of California, dealing with violent action or threats, typically physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological, which influence another person.
In any case, but especially concerning domestic violence, it is important to know your rights, what each law specifically covers and which line crossed makes you guilty or keeps you innocent.
The following are common domestic violence charges and information regarding their specific details and sentencing. If you are currently being charged with domestic violence or other criminal activity, please contact the Law Offices of Alisha A. Wood for advice and assistance with your case. (619) 867-0755
PENAL CODE 243(e)(1) DOMESTIC BATTERY
Domestic battery is one of California’s most common domestic violence crimes, and it does not require much physical contact to be convicted.
Under Penal Code 243(e)(1), domestic battery describes any willful and unlawful touching that is harmful or offensive and is committed against the defendant’s former or current spouse, cohabitant, fiancé, partner, anyone he or she has dated, or anyone with whom he or she shares a child.
The victim, in domestic battery cases, does not need to be injured in order to make his or her case. The violent force, even a push, ripping clothing or a scratch, is enough for conviction.
Domestic battery is a misdemeanor in California; the penalties include up to a $2,000 fine and up to 1 year of imprisonment in county jail.
The difficulty in defending yourself against domestic battery charges varies by case, but general legal defenses for these cases include:
- Acting in self-defense
- Force was not willfully inflicted
- False accusation
PENAL CODE 273.5 CORPORAL INJURY ON A SPOUSE OR COHABITANT
A much more serious domestic violence charge is that of corporal injury on a spouse or cohabitant. This crime, according to California Penal Code 273.5, is described as a willful infliction of physical injury on an intimate partner, which results in a traumatic condition in that person.
An intimate partner, as above, is described as the defendant’s current or former spouse, cohabitant, fiancé, someone the defendant has dated or is dating, or someone with whom the defendant shares a child.
A “traumatic condition” is usually a physical injury, ranging from bruising to broken bones or concussion.
If charged as a misdemeanor, this case has a potential penalty of up to 1 year in jail and a $6,000 fine, while felony charges may include up to 4 years of prison.
These charges, because they cause physical damage to another person, are difficult to defend; however, some common defenses include acting out of self-defense, not willfully injuring your accuser or false accusation. We encourage you to seek a team of experts if you are fighting a domestic violence criminal case. We can help you win back your freedom.
PENAL CODE 270 CHILD NEGLECT / FAILURE TO PROVIDE CARE
Under Penal Code 270, child neglect is defined as the willful and unlawful failure to provide necessities of food, clothing, shelter and medical/remedial care for your child under the age of 18 years old.
In these cases, you are considered the parent of the child even without rights to his or her custody. “Unlawful” or “without a lawful excuse” protects the rights of those unable to earn enough money to pay for their child’s necessities, through no fault of their own.
In most cases, child neglect is tried as a misdemeanor in California, with penalties of probation, up to 1 year in county jail and/or up to a $2,000 fine. The crime may become a felony during cases in which the defendant is a father whose paternity of the same child has been disputed in court in another case. However, these cases may be protected under the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution if the defendant has not been accused of child neglect in the past.
Your legal defenses in these cases may include not acting willfully or having a lawful excuse, but cases involving children are more complicated to dispute than other domestic charges.
PENAL CODE 273a CHILD ENDANGERMENT
According to California Penal Code 273a, child endangerment occurs when:
- Someone causes or allows a child to suffer physical or mental pain unjustifiably
- Someone willfully causes or allows a child to be injured in their care
- Someone willfully causes or allows a child to be in a dangerous situation
Examples of child endangerment include leaving weapons in reach of children, allowing someone with a history of abusive behavior to care for a child or failure to seek medical treatment for a child who is very sick.
Child endangerment is tried as a misdemeanor if there was no risk of physical harm or death to the child during this endangerment. If there was any harmful or fatal risk, the crime is tried as a felony.
Penalties for this misdemeanor include up to 1 year in county jail. If tried as a felon, you may face up to 6 years in California state prison.
You may be able to argue your defense under the following conditions:
- “Endangerment” was unintentional
- False accusation
- You were not in charge of the child nor did you cause the endangerment
- You were acting within disciplinary rights of a parent
PENAL CODE 273d CHILD ABUSE
California Penal Code 273d punishes the physical abuse inflicted on a child, or any minor under the age of 18. Any act from a slap that leaves a mark to hitting a child with a belt in a disciplinary fashion can qualify as child abuse.
Because the limitations on the actions in this crime are so broad, it is very easy for a family to become ruined by child abuse laws, if wrongful accusation is at hand. Further, Child Protective Services may become involved, contributing to the difficulty in maintaining a family structure and devastating a home.
The penalties for child abuse vary depending on whether it is charged as a misdemeanor or felony (based on your case and criminal history). As a misdemeanor, the penalty is usually a maximum of 1 year in prison. However, if tried as a felony charge, you may face up to 6 or more years in prison, increasing if this is not your first offense.
A strong legal defense is built in this case if you have proof that the allegations are not true, the child’s injuries were not caused by physical abuse, you had disciplinary rights as a parent in your actions or you did not purposefully injure the child. No matter the case, you will need help fighting your charges and should seek legal council from a team with proven experience.
PENAL CODE 368 ELDER ABUSE
Under California Penal Code 368, “elder abuse” describes any of the following actions inflicted on any person aged 65 or older:
- Physical abuse, or unjustifiable pain or injury on a victim
- Emotional abuse, often seen as isolation, ridicule, infliction of mental suffering or instability
- Neglect or endangerment
- Financial exploitation
Depending on the case and the defendant’s past criminal behavior, elder abuse cases may be tried as misdemeanors or felonies. As a misdemeanor, penalties may include up to 1 year in county jail and a fine set by the prosecutor. A felony charge of elder abuse is typically sentenced to up to 4 years in state prison.
You may defend yourself if you feel you are a victim of false accusation, mistaken identity or insufficient evidence by the court. However, these cases are very thoroughly investigated by the court, and you may need professional help to fight your case with the best results.
PENAL CODE 422 CRIMINAL THREATS
A crime of criminal threat is submitting someone to fear. This means, you threaten to kill or harm someone physically and that person is becomes fearful for his or her (or his or her family’s) safety, the threat is specific and unequivocal and the threat is communicated clearly either verbally, in writing or electronically. The threat, however, does not need to be carried out in order to be charged.
A threat may be admissible if:
- The threat was vague and nonspecific
- The threat could not have instilled reasonable fear in the recipient
- The recipient was not actually in fear
- The recipient only experienced fear momentarily
- The threat was made only by a gesture, not by the methods stated above
- You are a victim of false accusation
A threat is charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on your criminal history and the extent of the threat, with penalties of 1-4 years of prison time.
PENAL CODE 601 AGGRAVATED TRESPASS
According to California Penal Code 601, aggravated trespass is proven if:
- You have made a legitimate threat to cause physical injury to another person
- You made that threat to instill reasonable fear in the other person
- You unlawfully entered the threatened person’s residence, neighbor’s residence or workplace without purpose and with intent to carry out the threat, within 30 days of making said threat
Threat of a serious bodily injury may include unconsciousness, concussion, bone fracture, impairment of an organ, a deep wound or disfigurement.
Penalties may vary, similarly to the previous domestic violence charges. As a misdemeanor, penalties may vary from probation, one year in jail and/or up to a $2,000 fine. As a felony, aggravated trespass may be penalized with formal probation, up to 3 years in jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines.
These cases may be defended by either discrediting the threat or claiming innocence in your presence on the property. You will need professional legal council in these cases to properly ensure you are getting the best results in your legal battle and using your rights to their fullest extent.
DOMESTIC VIOLENCE & IMMIGRATION
It is important to know your rights as either an undocumented immigrant or new citizen in this country. If you have legal citizenship, you will be tried equally as above. If you are undocumented or in the United States on a Visa, you must know domestic violence is considered a deportable crime. Any crime that falls under the category of domestic violence does make you eligible for immediate deportation.
If you are facing domestic violence charges and are struggling with immigration laws simultaneously, you will be able to fight to stay, with the right support from a legal team. Contact your offices if you need advice or help with your case.
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