Indeed, being charged with a domestic violence offense can be a stressful and shameful experience. If you are under arrest or charged with a domestic violence offense, it is a brilliant idea to talk to an attorney to know what you are up against and how to protect your rights as the case continues.
Apart from ruining your reputation, a conviction for a domestic violence offense could make you subject to hefty fines and extensive time in prison. At Foos Gavin Law Firm, we understand that conflicts happen in most families, but you do not have to go to jail due to a misunderstanding that you could resolve later.
Our skilled and discreet attorneys are here to protect your best interests through every stage of the criminal justice system if you are in trouble with the law for any alleged domestic violence charge in Sacramento. We have whatever it takes to convince the court to dismiss or reduce the alleged domestic violence charge to a less detrimental offense.
This article will provide you with an insight into what counts as domestic violence and an understanding of the most common domestic violence charges.
Definition of Domestic Violence Under Penal Code 13700
According to Penal Code 13700 PC, it is unlawful to use physical force or threaten to use physical force on a former or current intimate partner. For the sake of this statute, an "intimate partner" could be:
- Someone you have a child with
- Former or current spouse
- Former or current cohabitant
- Someone you had a dating or romantic relationship with
- Former or current registered domestic partner
- Former or current fiancé
Apart from partners in an intimate relationship, the following people could also be victims of domestic violence cases according to Family Code section 6200:
- The defendant's child
- Defendant relatives, including:
- Step-sisters and step-brothers
- Nieces and nephews
- Uncles and aunts
In short, the prosecutor can charge you with a domestic violence offense if the allegations you are up against involve abuse against a person within any of these blood or familial relationships.
Common Domestic Violence Charges You Ought to Know
Below is an overview of common domestic violence offenses chargeable and punishable under the law:
Corporal Injury to an Inhabitant or Spouse
PC 273.5 is the statute that makes it a crime to willfully inflict a corporal or physical injury on a former or a current cohabitant, spouse, co-parent, or dating partner. Also known as domestic violence or spousal abuse, corporal injury to an inhabitant or spouse is a wobbler offense.
That means you could be subject to misdemeanor or felony penalties, depending on your unique case's facts and overall criminal history. You are likely to face felony penalties if:
- The victim sustained severe injuries
- You have a criminal background of domestic violence or related aggressive charges
If you are guilty of PC 273.5 violation as a felony, you will face the following penalties:
- A maximum of $6,000
- Up four (4) years in the state prison
Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case and your attorney's mitigating arguments, the judge presiding over your case could also sentence you to formal probation instead of a jail term. On the other hand, when the prosecutor files your case as a misdemeanor, you should expect the following penalties upon conviction at trial:
- A fine not exceeding $6,000
- Custody in the county jail for a maximum of (1) year
- Misdemeanor probation
Typically, you commit domestic battery when you willfully and knowingly use violence or force against an intimate partner. For a domestic battery charge conviction, the prosecutor must have relevant evidence to prove that:
- You willfully used force or threatened to use force against an intimate partner
- You and the accuser were in any of the above-listed types of intimate relationships
- When you did so, you were not acting in self-defense
According to Penal Code 246(e)(1) PC, you would be guilty of domestic battery, even if the victim or accuser did not sustain a physical or visible injury. A conviction for PC 246(e)(1) violation will make you subject to the following misdemeanor penalties:
- Incarceration in the county jail for a maximum of one year
- A fine not exceeding $2,000
According to PC 273d, it is a criminal offense to inflict an injury or corporal punishment on a child, leading to a traumatic condition. Below are some of the acts that could make you subject to a child abuse charge under PC 273d:
- Punching your teenage son on the face for behavioral problems
- Slapping your daughter hard enough to leave a mark on her face
Upon conviction for a child abuse case, you could be subject to misdemeanor or felony penalties because it is a wobbler offense. Typically, a first-time child abuse charge conviction is a misdemeanor and will make you subject to the following possible penalties:
- A fine not exceeding $6,000
- Not more than one (1) year in the county jail
If you are guilty of child abuse as a felony, your sentence will be harsher, and you could be subject to the following penalties:
- A fine not exceeding $6,000
- Two (2) four (4) or six (6) years in the state prison (plus an extra and consecutive fours (4) years in prison if you have a past felony child abuse conviction in the last ten (10) years)
In many cases, child abuse charges stem from false accusations or misunderstandings. Without proper legal representation, you could end up behind bars for a crime you did not commit. Your attorney can help you counter the prosecutor's evidence and arguments for a less severe charge or dismissal of the case.
Elder abuse is another common domestic violence crime that could make you subject to severe and life-changing penalties. PC 368 is the statute that makes it a wobbler offense to willfully and knowingly inflict any of the following on a person aged 65 years of age or above:
- Physical abuse
- Financial fraud or exploitation
- Emotional abuse
Typically, elder abuse conviction as a misdemeanor will attract a county jail term of up to one year. However, as a felony, you could be subject to a maximum of four (4) in the state prison.
Threatening a current or former intimate partner or perhaps their immediate family could also put you in trouble with the law. According to PC 422, it is illegal to willfully threaten another person with serious bodily injury or death with the intent of putting them in reasonable fear for their safety.
Even if you did not have the physical ability to execute the threat, you could be guilty of criminal threats under PC 422 as long as the prosecutor can prove the following:
- You did threaten to kill or cause severe bodily injury to the accuser or their immediate family
- The threats were clear and specific
- You intended the accuser or the victim to perceive your electronically, written, or verbally communicated statements as a threat
- The accuser sustained reasonable fear for his/her safety or that of his/her family
When charged as a misdemeanor offense, a conviction for criminal threats would make you subject to a maximum of one year in jail and up to a $1,000 fine. However, if the prosecutor obtains a felony conviction against you for PC 422 violation, your sentence will include:
- Up to three (3) years in the state prison
- Up to $10,000 fine
Because of the vulnerability of children, prosecutors have a legal right to seek the most severe charge in a domestic violence case where a child is involved. According to child endangerment law under PC 273(a), it is a criminal offense to willfully and knowingly expose or place a minor (a person aged below 18 years) to unjustifiable mental and physical pain or danger.
Unlike a child abuse charge, the minor (victim) does not have to suffer an injury for a conviction under this statute. Below are examples of acts that could make you subject to a child endangerment charge under PC 273(a):
- Leaving a loaded gun or sharp objects near a child
- Failing or refusing to seek the necessary medical treatment for a sick child
- Tattooing a minor
- Leaving a child with a baby nurse "nanny" who you know has a record of abusive behavior
The penalties you could face upon a conviction for PC 273(a) violation will depend on whether or not the minor was a risk of great bodily injury or death. If there were no chance or possibility of either, the prosecutor would file your case as a misdemeanor, which carries the following possible penalties upon conviction at trial:
- A fine not exceeding $1,000
- Detention in the county jail for a maximum of one (1) year
As a felony, a child endangerment offense can attract a prison term of up to four years and a maximum of $10,000 fine. It is worth noting that you could be subject to a child endangerment charge even if you are not the child's biological parent. That is possible if the prosecutor can prove to the court beyond a reasonable doubt that the child was under your care or custody.
Therefore, it is critical to have an attorney who understands how local prosecutors treat these particular types of domestic violence cases to fight for your best interest in court for the best possible outcome.
Laws designed to protect children are broad, covering some acts and behavior you could never imagine were unlawful. For instance, failing or refusing to take your 13-year-old son to hospital when he is ill. to According to PC 270, you commit the crime of child neglect when you fail or refuse to provide your child with any or all of the following necessities of a comfortable and healthy life:
- Medical care
Typically, child neglect is chargeable and punishable as a misdemeanor offense. Upon conviction for PC 270 violation, you could be subject to the following penalties:
- Up to $2,000 fine
- Detention in the county for not more than one year
Depending on your unique case's facts and your attorney's mitigating arguments at the sentencing hearing, the judge could also award you probation to spend your sentence out of jail.
You violate stalking laws under PC 646.9 when you follow, harass, or threaten another person to the point of making him/her fear for the safety of his/her health and life. Depending on the particulars and circumstances of your case, a stalking charge could attract felony or misdemeanor penalties upon conviction at the trial hearing.
Some of the factors the judge will consider at the sentencing hearing include:
- Your criminal history
- Location of the offense
- Whether or not the accuser has filed a restraining order to stop you from visiting him/her
Since we live in an era of the internet and social media, lawmakers also recognize the possibility of online stalking, also known as cyberstalking. If you are guilty of stalking as a misdemeanor, your sentence will include:
- Not more than $1,000 fine
- A maximum of one-year jail term
According to section 647(j)(4) of the Penal Code, it is a misdemeanor offense to post or upload sexual videos or photos of another person on the internet without their permission. To secure a conviction against you for PC 647(j)(4) violation, the prosecutor must further prove that you did so with the intent of causing the person (accuser) to experience pain and emotional distress.
Whatever you do, you should never undermine revenge porn allegations because you could end up behind bars if it is impossible to prove your innocence at trial. If you are under investigation or arrest for an alleged revenge porn charge, you could increase your chances of countering this detrimental offense when you hire an attorney.
Below are the potential penalties you should expect upon conviction for a revenge porn charge under PC 647(j)(4):
- Incarceration in the county jail for not more than six months
- A maximum of $1,000 fine
If you have one or more past convictions for PC 647(j)(4) violation, the court could add another six months to your prison term, totaling to one in jail. Apart from that, your fine will also increase to up to $2,000. An aggressive and determined attorney could help you obtain a less severe charge or a dismissal of the case.
Do not hesitate to call an attorney if you are under arrest for an alleged revenge porn charge because there are several defense arguments to counter this charge for the best possible outcome.
Damaging Electrical, Utility or Telephone Lines
Generally, people rely on functioning electrical and telephone lines to remain connected with their loved ones and ensure emergency services are not far away. Because of this, the act of damaging another person's communication and electrical lines is a severe offense in the eyes of the law.
Damaging another person's electrical lines is an offense that is often associated with domestic violence cases, especially after a breakup or divorce. According to PC 591, the prosecutor has the right to file this charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
Whether he/she will file your case as a misdemeanor or a felony will depend on your unique case's facts. A misdemeanor conviction for PC 591 violation is punishable by:
- Up to one (1) year in the jail
- Up to $1,000 fine
On the other hand, a felony PC 591 violation will make you subject to the following potential punishment:
- Up to three (3) years in jail
- A fine not exceeding $10,000
Also commonly known as felony trespass is another common offense that is often associated with domestic violence cases. According to section 601 0f the Penal Code (PC), you commit aggravated trespass offense when you make credible threats against the wellbeing of another person, and then you unlawfully:
- Enter this person's property or residence, or workplace without their permission
- You do so within thirty (30) days of making these credible treats
Aggravated trespass could result in felony or misdemeanor penalties if you are guilty of the offense at trial. Regardless of whether these threats were verbal, written, or electronically communicated, you would be subject to the following penalties if guilty of felony aggravated trespass:
- Not more than three (3) years custody in the county jail
- A maximum of $10,000 fine
However, if your aggravated trespass charge is a misdemeanor, your penalties will be less severe, including:
- Not more than $1,000 fine
- Up to one (1) year in the county jail
Posting Harmful Information on the Internet
PC 653.2 is the statute that makes it illegal to use an electronic device to text, publish, distribute, email, or hyperlink another person's information with the intent of making other people (internet users) harass him/her. For the sake of this statute, an "electronic device" could be (but not limited to) any of the following:
- Fax machine
- Video recorder
Also known as indirect electronic harassment, posting harmful information on the internet is often associated with domestic violence cases. For instance, in an attempt to seek revenge over your partner after a divorce or disagreement, you decide to email harmful information about him/her to your friends.
According to PC 653.2, indirect electronic harassment is a misdemeanor offense, carrying a maximum one-year jail term and a fine not exceeding $1,000.
As the name suggests, the crime of false imprisonment happens when you unlawfully deprive another person of his/her deserved liberty. In short, it means to illegally detain, confine or restrain another person without his/her will. For instance, during a heated argument with your wife, you decide to:
- Grab her hands to prevent her from leaving the room
- Lock her in the closet to prevent her from leaving
When charged as a misdemeanor, false imprisonment can result in a jail term of up to one year and a fine not exceeding $1,000. If you detained or restrained the accuser using menace or violence to accomplish your mission, the prosecutor could file your case as a felony. If that is the case, a conviction will result in:
- Detention in the county jail for a maximum of three years
- Not more than $10,000 fine
Why You Need an Attorney if You are Under Arrest or Investigation for an Offense Related to Domestic Violence
Apart from the mentioned penalties and fines, a conviction for a domestic violence offense or any offense related to domestic violence will also make you subject to the following potential consequences:
- Loss of child custody rights
- Mandatory participation in a batterers program for relevant counseling and rehabilitation program
- Deportation if you are an alien
- A criminal record, making it challenging to secure reliable employment
- Loss of your gun ownership rights
- Restraining orders or emergency protective order
To stand a chance of fighting a domestic violence charge in court, you should hire an attorney without wasting time. An experienced attorney will dig deep into the particulars and facts of your case to prepare and build legal defenses that could work out to your advantage for a less severe charge or dismissal of the case.
Below are some of the applicable legal defenses to domestic violence charges:
- You are a victim of mistaken identity
- False accusations
- Lack of adequate proof
An experienced and skilled attorney will take time on your unique domestic violence case to know which defense will work in your favor for the best possible verdict. To avoid settling for the services of a mediocre expert when your reputation and freedom are at stake, you should take your time to find a licensed attorney.
Find a Credible Domestic Violence Defense Attorney Near Me
Undoubtedly, a conviction for a domestic violence charge could be detrimental to your life. If you have a domestic violence charge in Sacramento, profound attorneys at Foos Gavin Law Firm can represent you in court for the best possible outcome.
Our attorneys have significant experience in this specific area of law and can help you navigate the confusing criminal justice system for the best possible outcome. Call us at 916-779-3500 to schedule your initial and obligation-free consultation with our credible domestic violence attorneys.