Domestic violence is one of the most common charges filed in
Los Angeles. Unlike some other criminal charges, these charges are found
frequently in every city and area of Los Angeles County. Domestic violence
charges can vary greatly in seriousness and outcomes will be very dependent on
the skill and experience of the criminal defense attorney who you have fighting
for you and your freedom. As a former prosecutor in Los Angeles and Orange
County, I have experience with thousands of domestic violence cases from before
they are filed all the way through trial if necessary.
The two most common domestic violence charges in Los Angeles
and Orange County are domestic battery under California Penal Code Section
243(e)(1) (PC 243(e)(1)) and domestic violence causing corporal injury under
California Penal Code Section 273.5(a) (PC 273.5(a)).
Domestic Battery (PC 243(e)(1))
Domestic battery under PC 243(e)(1) is a misdemeanor which
means that the charge carries with it the possibility of one year in the county
jail. This charge requires that a defendant committed a battery on a victim and
that the victim was the defendant’s spouse, fiancé, or an individual who the defendant
was currently or previously dating. A battery is defined as any willful and
unlawful use of force or violence upon another person. A domestic battery in
Los Angeles or Orange County under this code does not require there to be any
visible or actual injury. Here are a couple of examples where a California defendant
may be charged under this code section:
A Manhattan Beach defendant is accused of
pushing his girlfriend after an argument over finances. The Manhattan Beach
Police Department is called and the defendant and his girlfriend both state
that there was a single push and nobody was injured. In this circumstance, a
misdemeanor charge of PC 243(e)(1) is likely to be charged against the
Manhattan Beach Defendant and to be filed in the Torrance Courthouse.
A West Los Angeles defendant is accused of slapping
his wife after an argument about infidelity. The Los Angeles Police Department
arrives to investigate. The wife and a friend say the defendant slapped her but
the defendant denies doing so. No visible injuries are present on the wife. The
West Los Angeles defendant is likely to be charged with a misdemeanor violation
of PC 243(e)(1) to be filed in the Airport Courthouse.
Domestic Violence Causing Corporal Injury (PC 273.5(a))
Domestic violence causing corporal injury under PC 273.5(a)
is a “wobbler”. A wobbler is a crime in California that can be charged as
either a misdemeanor or a felony. If it is charged as a misdemeanor, a
defendant is facing the possibility of one year in jail. If it is charged as a
felony, then the defendant is facing a prison sentence. The decision of whether
to file a misdemeanor or felony will largely depend on the severity of the
injury, as well as the past criminal history of the defendant. The charge
requires that a defendant willfully inflicted corporal injury against a spouse,
former spouse, a person they were living with, a person they share a child
with, or a person who is or was in a dating relationship with the defendant.
Additionally, the corporal injury must have resulted in a “traumatic condition”.
A traumatic condition is typically a visible injury of some sort, even a
scratch or a small bruise may be sufficient. Below are a couple of examples
where a California defendant may be charged under this code section:
A Long Beach defendant is accused of grabbing
and shaking his ex-girlfriend during an argument over child support. The Long
Beach Police Department arrives and sees visible bruising on the female’s
shoulders. The Long Beach defendant has never been arrested before. In this
situation, it is likely that a misdemeanor 273.5(a) would be filed in the Long
A Compton defendant is accused of punching the
mother of his child in the face. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department arrives
to investigate and sees that the female has a black eye and is bleeding from
her mouth. The defendant is currently on probation for domestic violence. In
this situation, it is likely the defendant will be charged with a felony
273.5(a) in the Compton Courthouse.
OTHER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES
Many other charges can arise when a defendant is accused of
domestic violence. These can include all of the charges detailed under “Assault
and Battery” in the Criminal Defense tab above. Domestic violence may also be
charged with additional allegation such as inflicting great bodily injury (GBI)
under Penal Code Section 12022.7 or being armed with a weapon. Domestic violence may also be charged in conjunction with crimes such as criminal threats (Penal Code Section 422), stalking (Penal Code Section 646.9), or dissuading a witness (Penal Code Section 136).
CONSEQUENCES OF CONVICTION
Beyond the threat of a jail or prison sentence, California domestic
violence convictions will also frequently require the defendant to comply with
other terms and conditions.
In almost every domestic violence, case, the court will
issue a protective order against the defendant. This order typically requires
the defendant to stay at least 100 yards away from the victim and to have no
contact in any form with the victim for as long as the order remains in place.
Additionally, a defendant in California is required to relinquish any firearms
for a period of time that may reach ten years. A violation of a protective
order can result in a new criminal case under Penal Code Section 273.6.
In addition to the protective order, California requires
anyone convicted of domestic violence charges to complete a 52 week domestic
violence program. A failure to complete this program or a violation of any
other probation terms can result in jail for up to the maximum time allowed on
TRIAL ON DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CHARGES
Domestic violence charges in Los
Angeles or Orange County can ruin a person’s life. The reality is that the
police report will often not tell the full or accurate story of what happened.
While most cases do not go to trial, you need an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney who has the experience and skill to be prepared for trial if
necessary. You will not get the best possible offer unless the prosecutor
believes that your attorney can succeed at trial. Contact me today to learn
more about my education, experience, and skill that I can put towards fighting
for you every step of the way.