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Domestic violence is a criminal act of physical and/or emotional abuse, committed by one person against another within a relationship setting. This can be a wife, husband, girlfriend, boyfriend, son or daughter, and grandparents. Anyone of these people can be the perpetrator or the victim of such abuse. It is a terrible crime that lasts a lifetime in the mind of the victim.

Under California’s Penal Code Section 273.5, the charge of domestic violence can be filed as a misdemeanor or a felony, but more often as a felony. The victim, in this case, has sustained visible wounds, possible strangulation or suffocation, or other injuries caused by physical force.

The criminal act of battery can be filed under California’s Penal Code 243(e)(1) on a lesser misdemeanor charge of battery, that carries a penalty of a fine, $2000 or less, or six months in jail, or both. Probation may carry other terms, such as time spent in a batterer’s treatment program or other counseling programs of the court’s choosing.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you must take steps to protect yourself, including consulting with a San Diego domestic violence attorney. Call the police at once, if you are physically assaulted, and have everything documented at once, especially physical injuries. In other circumstances, when you are the one accused of assault and, based on a so-called victim’s statement, you should at once seek a domestic violence attorney to defend your innocence.

If someone is verbally abusive and/or threatens to harm you, you should consult an attorney on the best procedure of how to begin documenting the situation, if you cannot leave the relationship, for whatever reasons. Such a person is not above later claiming that you abused them instead, and you must have some type of evidence to prove your innocence. Your attorney can tell you on how best to legally obtain evidence that will stand up in a court of law.  Here is a sample table of charges and possible penalties and convictions for domestic violence in California.

Domestic Violence
Charge CA Code Conviction and Penalty
Felony Charge PCS* 273.5 Based on earlier conviction within 7 years- 1year county jail, or in state prison for 2, 4, or 5 years. Possible fine added at $10.000.00
Felony Charge PCS 273.5 Probation – at the court’s discretion – based on an earlier conviction under 7 years – no less than 15 days in county jail.

If two or more convictions under 7 years – no less than 60 days in county jail.

Other conditions may apply: payments to a battered women’s shelter; Reimbursement to victim for counseling fees; Possible Restraining Order.

Misdemeanor Charge PCS 243 Battery penalty – $2,000.00 or less, country jail for 6 months or less, or both penalties together.

(This is used more for victims outside the family relationship)

* PCS – Stands for Penal Code Section as found at FindLaw

If you have been charged with domestic violence, please call 619-234-2300 to set up a free consultation or connect online here.

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Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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