Domestic Violence Penalties in California

There are a range of penalties for charges related to a domestic violence offense. Some charges could be filed as a misdemeanor and could result in up to a year in county jail, while others are felony offenses and the penalties can be far more extensive, including a long period in state prison. Our Los Angeles domestic violence defense attorney has provided basic information about the types of charges and potential penalties that could be imposed in a conviction. If you are accused, the most important issue is to have defense counsel representing you, and ensure that your lawyer is highly skilled and experienced in criminal court. Our firm is AV® rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, or preeminent in criminal law. We are trial lawyers and are highly respected in the legal community. We know what to do if you are facing any level of charges related to domestic violence, including child abuse, child endangerment, criminal threats, intimidation, spousal abuse, stalking or other offenses.

How Penalties are Imposed by the Courts

Our state has a highly structured method of sentencing in all domestic violence cases. Some charges will not allow for probation, such as a case when a person is convicted of attempted murder – you will have to serve time. The classification of a criminal charge as a crime of domestic violence will impact the penalties that could be imposed. The amount of time spent in custody is the biggest concern for most people who are facing charges, but there are many other ramifications, including having a compromised criminal record and being unable to own a firearm in some cases. A felony domestic violence offense can lead to up to 5 years in state prison. Probation could also be as long as 5 years. There is a minimum of 3 years of probation as a state requirement in all cases of felony domestic violence. Any violation of probation will create another legal situation, and could mean that you serve the whole term you avoided by getting probation, with added time for the violation.

Sentencing for Domestic Violence Offenses

For a case of spousal abuse, under the CA Penal Code §273.5 (2013), the penalties can include punishment in state prison for 2, 3, or 4 years, or in country jail for not more than one year, as well as a fine as high as $6,000, or both. A person who has a prior conviction for this offense within the past 7 years will have further years of imprisonment (longer term) and fines as high as $10,000.

For a case of child abuse, the penalties imposed will vary, as this offense can be filed as either a misdemeanor or a felony. A misdemeanor will mean up to 1 year in county jail, but a felony conviction has the potential of 2 – 6 years in state prison, and longer sentences for those who have a prior conviction on record. These offenses also are considered “three strikes” offenses, and a third act of child abuse that leads to a conviction can mean 25 years to life in state prison. Child endangerment is considered a form of child abuse and could also lead to extensive penalties including jail or prison time, fines, as well as the loss of custody of your children. A case of child abuse that causes major injury now allows for up to life in prison as a penalty. This change in law came into effect in 2010 to punish caregivers who abuse children and cause them permanent injuries.

Contact us to discuss your case, the potential penalties, and what defense strategy could be employed in your case.