Domestic Violence as Explained by a Fresno Lawyer

Jan 25, 2017

In California, domestic violence is a serious offense that can carry significant penalties for the perpetrator, in addition to substantial injury to the victim. As a domestic violence lawyer, the Mitchell Law Group has considerable experience in addressing cases of domestic violence in Fresno County and across the Central Valley.  
Domestic Violence Defined
Domestic violence involves the use of physical force or making threats against an intimate partner. The primary prohibition is set forth in California Penal Code 273.5 (273.5 PC)—Corporal Injury on an Intimate Partner—which defines an “intimate partner” as someone who is the defendant’s current or former spouse, fiance(e), co-habinant, dating partner, or child(ren)'s parent.
For a successful conviction pursuant to 273.5 PC, the victim must suffer a concrete corporal injury that results in a traumatic condition and visible injuries such as bruises, lacerations, or broken bones, for example.
Related Offenses
There are additional laws that are applicable in cases of domestic violence, and which may be charged along with 273.5 PC.
  • Assault [240 PC]—Attempting to inflict bodily harm on another.
  • Battery [242 PC]—Actual infliction of bodily harm on another.
  • Battery Causing Serious Bodily Injury [243(d) PC]—Actual infliction of serious bodily harm on another.
  • Domestic Battery [243(e)(1) PC]—Actual infliction of violence or force on an intimate partner without a visible injury.
  • Child Neglect/Failure to Provide Care [270 PC]—A parent willfully and without a lawful excuse failing to provide necessities to his or her minor child.
  • Child Endangerment [273(a) PC]—Willfully allowing a child in one's care or custody to be physically endangered, suffer harm, or have his or her safety compromised. This usually occurs when a parent’s boy/girlfriend uses corporal punishment against the parent’s child, operates a home-based meth lab, or leaves the child locked in a vehicle.
  • Child Abuse [273(d) PC]—Inflicting corporal punishment or injury on a child that was cruel or inhuman and resulted in injury.
  • Elder Abuse [368 PC]—The willful infliction of physical or emotional abuse, neglect, endangerment, or financial fraud on a person 65 years of age or older, usually by a caregiver.
  • Criminal Threats [422 PC]—Communicating a threat of serious harm with the intent to make the intended victim fear, as well as actually placing the victim in sustained fear. This is a “wobbler” offense that can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, based on the totality of the circumstances and the defendant’s prior criminal history. A conviction under 422 PC constitutes a “strike” under California’s “Three Strikes” Law.
  • Aggravated Trespassing [601 PC]—Similar to misdemeanor trespass but contains the added element of threats against the victim by the defendant. Making a threat to someone who, subsequently, reasonably fears for his or her safety and carrying out said threat within 30 days by entering the victim’s home or workplace is considered aggravated trespassing. This offense is also considered a “wobbler.”
Other offenses not traditionally considered as domestic violence but are often charged in domestic violence situations include:
  • Damaging a Telephone Line [591 PC]
  • Revenge Porn [647(j)(4)]
  • Posting Harmful Information on the Internet [653.2 PC]
Criminal Penalties for Domestic Violence
Applicable penalties and actual sentencing are based on the seriousness of the victim’s injury and the defendant’s prior criminal record.
A misdemeanor conviction often carries a sentence of at least 30 days in county jail (even for a first-time offender) and the successful completion of a 52-week domestic batterer class. Further, due to the seriousness of the crime, all domestic violence convictions—even misdemeanors—remain on one's record and will surface during a routine background check which can pose problems obtaining licenses, employment, or other benefits.
Penalties for a misdemeanor conviction include:
  • Up to 364 days in county jail
  • A fine not to exceed $6,000
  • Probation
Penalties for a felony conviction include:
  • Time in State or Local Prison -(PC 273.5 for instance carries, two, three or four years in Prison)
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Probation/Parole
Of note, California domestic violence laws can be particularly serious for non-U.S. citizens because of the strong potential for deportation and other adverse immigration consequences. 
If you or someone you know is facing a charge of domestic violence in California, or for more information, please contact us.


Category: Domestic Violence

Michael Mitchell

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Michael Mitchell is a Fresno attorney who practices in the areas of DUI, personal injury & criminal law. Visit his Google+ profile.