Domestic violence is a serious criminal offense in California. A conviction could damage your future and even cost you your freedom.
Domestic violence cases are often complicated, sensitive, and emotional. During such a difficult time, defendants need supportive legal representation.
If you were accused of any type of domestic abuse in Southern California, speak to a criminal defense lawyer immediately.
At The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, our San Diego domestic violence attorneys provide effective legal representation to our clients. We will fight to protect your rights and to get you the best results.
What to Do If You are Accused of Domestic Violence in California
If you were arrested for or accused of spousal abuse or domestic violence in San Diego, you need to know how to protect your legal rights. In far too many cases, defendants end up making things even worse for themselves.
If you are facing domestic violence charges, be sure to do the following three things:
Stay Away From the Accuser
If you are facing false charges, it is understandable to want to say something to defend yourself. However, this is a huge error. If you were charged or even accused, you will have already been served with an emergency protective order. Violating this order will create very serious problems for you.
The best thing you can do is to avoid any contact with the accuser outside of formal legal settings. Work through a lawyer.
Secure Exonerating Evidence
You should secure exonerating evidence. For example, if you have texts or social media messages that prove your innocence, make sure that you secure this information. Exonerating evidence will help you build your legal defense.
Call a San Diego Domestic Violence Attorney
Domestic violence is a serious crime. You should not go up against prosecutors on your own or with an inexperienced attorney. Exercise your right to remain silent and be sure to consult with an experienced San Diego domestic violence lawyer right away. Your lawyer will answer your questions and give you legal advice.
California Law: Domestic Violence Statutes
California’s domestic violence laws are designed to prevent violence between close family members and partners. There are several sections of the state’s penal code that could be implicated, depending on the alleged offense.
You should know the following two key domestic violence statutes:
Under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1), a defendant can be charged with domestic battery if they inflict force or violence on an intimate partner. The terms ‘force’ and ‘violence’ are used broadly under this state statute. A defendant does not need to cause a visible injury to their partner to be charged with domestic battery in California. A person could face domestic battery charges even if there was no physical contact.
Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Inhabitant
Under California Penal Code Section 273.5(a), a defendant who inflicts a ‘corporal injury’ on a close family member or intimate partner may be charged with a felony offense. Many different types of injuries are covered by this statute. Any unlawful acts that cause a visible injury or pain to the other party could be covered by this domestic violence law.
Domestic Violence Punishment in California
California’s most commonly charged domestic violence crime, domestic battery under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1), is a misdemeanor. Punishment can include a fine of up to $2,000 and up to one year in the county jail.
If granted probation, the defendant is required to successfully complete a minimum of one year in a domestic abuser treatment program. The defendant may also be required to pay a $5,000 fine to a battered women’s shelter and to pay restitution to the victim.
Corporal injury to a spouse or inhabitant—defined by California Penal Code section 273.5(a)—can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the circumstances of the case and the defendant’s criminal history
As a misdemeanor, corporal injury to a spouse or inhabitant can be punished by a fine of up to $6,000 and up to one year in county jail. The defendant may be required to pay additional fines and complete domestic violence classes as detailed above.
If it is a felony, punishment can include a fine of up to $6,000 and up to four years in state prison.
If you have been previously convicted under this section or of another assault crime, the potential fine increases to $10,000. Additionally, the defendant can be sentenced to prison for up to five years.
Is Domestic Violence a Felony in California?
Corporal injury to a spouse or inhabitant is considered a “wobbler,” which means it can be charged as a felony or misdemeanor. The prosecutor determines how the defendant will be charged.
Several factors are considered in the determination, including:
- The defendant’s criminal history;
- The facts of the case; and
- The severity of the victim’s injuries.
If this is your first time with a domestic violence charge in California and the injury is not too severe, the prosecutor is more likely to charge you with a misdemeanor.
Felony vs. Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Charges
The main difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the length of time you have to spend incarcerated. However, there are other consequences as well.
Felony convictions can result in a long-term stay in a California state prison, depending on the crime.
With a felony conviction, you lose certain rights. One of those rights is the right to possess a firearm and the ability to vote (if you are sent to prison and while you are on parole).
Having a felony conviction on your record can also hamper your ability to find employment and even to find housing opportunities.
A misdemeanor conviction, on the other hand, carries a maximum jail sentence of one year. While you may have to serve probation time after your release, this is typically preferred over incarceration.
Misdemeanor convictions remain on your record just like a felony conviction.
Statute of Limitations for Domestic Violence in California
A statute of limitations is a time limit on when an individual can be charged for committing a crime.
In California, the statute of limitations for domestic violence cases depends on the level of assault that was committed.
For crimes that are misdemeanors, such as domestic battery, the statute of limitations is one year. The time limit starts when police are notified of the assault.
For crimes that are felonies, the statute of limitations is four years.
How Much Does a Domestic Violence Attorney Cost?
We know that hiring a defense attorney can be costly. However, having an attorney to defend you can drastically change the outcome of your case.
Choosing an attorney who has relevant experience and a history of success in cases like yours can seem intimidating. There are hundreds of law firms advertising their services. How do you pick the best attorney for you?
Below are some tips for finding the best San Diego, California domestic violence attorney:
When selecting your attorney, focus on law firms that are experienced in the area of law you need help with. If you have a domestic violence charge, a tax attorney is not going to be able to provide relevant advice for your issue.
At The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, we have extensive experience dealing with domestic violence cases. We can explain all the relevant laws and legal defenses surrounding domestic violence in California.
You need an attorney with a proven history of success. Although the outcome of your case cannot be guaranteed, selecting an attorney with a history of prevailing in cases like yours is a good choice.
Fair Legal Fees
Attorneys employed by law firms charge legal fees for their services. However, the lawyer who charges the highest fees is not necessarily the most successful attorney.
If you hire the cheapest attorney, you may get the cheapest defense. It is important to weigh the factors listed above in conjunction with a lawyer’s fee to see if the attorney is the right fit for you.
The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, provides high-quality legal representation at a fair price to clients. Our defense attorneys have tried well over 100 jury trials in California courts and will use that experience to fight for your rights.
How Our Attorneys Can Help
Domestic violence cases are complex and fraught with intense, heavy emotions. If you were accused of spousal abuse or domestic violence, you need a sensitive and reliable defense attorney.
At The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, we always put ourselves in the position of our clients. We will work with you to understand your situation and get you the best possible results. No matter your circumstances, our law firm is here to protect your rights and your future.
Among other things, our domestic violence lawyers in San Diego, California are prepared to:
- Conduct a comprehensive, confidential review of the domestic violence charges;
- Carefully explain your rights and legal options to you;
- Investigate the charges — gathering and securing exonerating evidence; and
- Craft a fully personalized legal defense strategy.
Domestic violence charges must always be defended on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, domestic violence charges are entirely baseless. An accuser may even file charges to get an advantage in divorce or custody proceedings. False domestic violence charges must be defended aggressively.
Our San Diego, California domestic violence lawyers will fight to exonerate you and get illegitimate charges thrown out of the courtroom.
In other cases, the best defense strategy may be to focusing on securing a plea agreement that will keep a client out of jail.
Get Help from Our San Diego Domestic Violence Lawyer Today
At The Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, our San Diego domestic violence attorneys are committed to representing and helping our clients.
If you were arrested and charged with any form of domestic violence, we are ready to help.
We represent defendants in San Diego and throughout the region, including in Chula Vista, Escondido, San Marcos, El Cajon, National City, and La Mesa.