What Does California Consider To Be Domestic Violence?

California Penal Code states that domestic violence is the unlawful use of physical force against a spouse or romantic companion. The state does not, however, have one specific law prohibiting domestic violence. Rather, it recognizes domestic violence as a condition that occurs during certain assault or abuse cases, and it punishes accordingly. So, what charges refer to domestic violence, and what are the associated punishments for these crimes? We explore these topics below.

Domestic Violence

There are two types of domestic violence charges: corporal injury and domestic battery. In corporal injury cases, the victim must have sustained an injury and must be able to prove that said injury resulted from domestic abuse. In domestic battery cases, the prosecutor must simply prove that the accused intentionally harmed or touched the victim; they do not need to provide evidence of a resulting injury.

California law classifies especially heinous cases of corporal injury separately. Under Section 273, cases involving serious bodily injury are subject to harsher punishments upon conviction.

Serious Bodily Injury

Victims of corporal injury typically sustain injuries that result in little to no permanent damage. Examples include bruises, black eyes, or abrasions.

Serious bodily injury refers to wounds that are so severe they put the victim at risk of death or disability. This includes disfigurement, partial loss or impairment of a limb, or significant damage to the victim’s mental faculty.

Punishments for Domestic Violence

In California, domestic violence crimes are “wobbler” offenses. Depending on the details of the crime and your previous criminal history, you could face either felony or a misdemeanor charges and harsher punishments.

If you are charged with a domestic violence misdemeanor, and have no criminal record, the court can sentence you to up to 1 year in county jail and/or up to $6,000 in fines.

If you are facing felony domestic violence charges with no criminal record, your punishment could include a prison sentence of up to 4 years and/or up to $6,000 in fines.

Your domestic violence felony charges may carry harsher punishments if you have a criminal history within the past 7 years and it includes any of the following crimes:

  • Assault or battery with a stun gun
  • Assault or battery with a chemical
  • Assault or battery with a deadly weapon
  • Sexual battery
  • Corporal injury on a spouse

If your charges fall under this category, you could face up to 5 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

If you were convicted of battery of a spouse within the past 7 years, the court will escalate your felony charges, and can sentence you with up to 4 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.

If convicted, you may also lose your right to own a fire arm, potentially have a restraining order taken against you, and, if charged as an immigrant, risk deportation.

Contact Our Fresno Criminal Defense Attorney Brian C. Andritch Now: (559) 484-2112.

Don’t face your domestic violence charges alone. Our Fresno criminal defense lawyer has experience as a former prosecutor, which gives us all insider knowledge that we can use to better defend our clients. With more than 18 years of experience in criminal law, and a number of prestigious awards, our attorney has the knowledge and tools to help defend your domestic violence charges.

Whether you are facing corporal injury charges, or you’ve been accused of domestic battery, contact The Law Office of Brian C. Andritch. We offer free consultations: (559) 484-2112.


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