Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence Laws in California

The statements contained in this article are not legal advice, and they should not be taken as legal advice. The statements are only meant to provide general information, and they do not pertain to any specific legal situation you may face.

Have you been charged with domestic violence in California? The experienced and skilled attorneys at McDowell & Associates, Attorneys can help. Our attorneys have years of experience defending against charges of domestic violence and obtaining the best results possible for our clients.

Facing charges of domestic violence in California is a very serious situation that carries harsh consequences. A domestic violence conviction may carry mandatory jail time, even for a first-time offender. Furthermore, a domestic violence conviction will stay on your permanent criminal record, making it difficult to get a job, certain state licensing, and other benefits.

The unfortunate fact about domestic violence is that innocent people often get wrongly accused of committing it. Often times, a domestic violence accusation is really just the result of an angry or jealous spouse or partner trying to gain an upper hand by making a false allegation. Other times, a domestic violence charge may be a misunderstanding or the result of an act in self-defense during a mutual struggle.

No matter what the cause of the accusation, the attorneys at McDowell & Associates, Attorneys know how to examine a domestic violence charge and present your side of the story to get you the best result possible. In some cases, our attorneys may even be able to present your case to the prosecutors before charges get filed and prevent the prosecution from even beginning.

If you have been charged with domestic violence in California, you don’t want to take your case on alone. You need an experienced and skilled attorney who will fight for your rights and get you the best outcome possible. Call McDowell & Associates, Attorneys and schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys at (213) 401-2322.

Domestic Violence Laws in California

Under California domestic violence laws, it is illegal to use physical force or make threats of harm against a domestic partner. California domestic violence laws also cover, elderly abuse, battery against children, and child endangerment.

Corporal Injury on an Intimate Partner – Penal Code section 273.5

Under California Penal Code section 273.5 (PC 273.5), it is illegal to inflict a “corporal injury” that results in a “traumatic condition.” A person commits this crime when he/she strikes his/her intimate partner in a violent way causing a visible injury. Domestic violence can be charged in California if the victim is a current or former spouse or cohabitant, current or former fiancé, dating partner, or the parent of your child.

Corporal Injury on an Intimate partner may be charged as either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on the facts of the case and the defendant’s criminal history.

Penalties for Corporal Injury to an Intimate Partner

If charged as a felony, the defendant may face 2, 3, or 4 years in state prison.

If charged as a misdemeanor, the defendant may face up to 1 year in county jail and/or a fine of up to $6,000.

Additionally, serious immigration consequences may result from a conviction of corporal injury to an intimate partner, including deportation.

Defenses to Corporal Injury to an Intimate Partner

The attorneys at McDowell & Associates are experienced in defending clients charged with crimes of domestic violence, including corporal injury to an intimate partner. Depending on the circumstances of a given case, some of the possible defenses may include:

You acted in self-defense
You did not “willfully” injure your partner
You were falsely accused

Domestic Battery – Penal Code section 243(e)(1)

Under Penal Code section 243(e)(1) (PC 243(e)(1)), it is a misdemeanor offense to use force or violence against an intimate partner (fiancé or former fiancé, cohabitant or former cohabitant, parent of your child, current/former spouse, dating partner) in a harmful or offensive way, or to touch an intimate partner in a harmful or offensive way. California law does not require a visible injury, or even any injury, for this charge.

Penalties for Domestic Battery

Domestic battery is a misdemeanor. Penalties for a conviction include a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to 1 year in county jail.

Defenses to Domestic Battery

Although domestic battery is only a misdemeanor offense, it is still a difficult conviction to have on your record that carries very negative connotations. Fortunately, the attorneys at McDowell & Associates, Attorneys are very experienced in defending clients charged with domestic battery, and there are several defenses that may apply to your case, including:

You acted in self-defense
You did not “willfully” injure your partner
You were falsely accused

Child Abuse – Penal Code section 273(d)

Child abuse can be a very difficult charge and conviction to deal with. False accusations or an isolated moment of weakness can lead to a charge and conviction of child abuse. This can then lead to a destroyed family and reputation as well as destroyed freedom. Fortunately, the attorneys at McDowell & Associates, Attorneys are very experienced in defending clients charged with child abuse.

Under California Penal Code section 273(d) (PC 273(d)), it is illegal to inflict “corporal punishment or injury” on a child if it was “cruel or inhuman” and caused an injury. California child abuse law does, however, allow leeway to spank a child, but draws a line where the punishment is cruel or injures the child.

Penalties for Child Abuse

Child abuse may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. In either case, if convicted of child abuse, a defendant may be looking at some jail time:

Felony: 2, 4, or 6 years in state prison
Misdemeanor: Up to 1 year in county jail

Defenses to Child Abuse

While charges of child abuse can bring emotional turmoil to a defendant and his/her family, there are several key defenses that can be used, depending on the circumstances of the case. These defenses include:

The accusations are false
Something other than child abuse caused the child’s injuries
You were acting within your right to discipline the child
You did not injure the child on purpose

The attorneys at McDowell & Associates, Attorneys are experienced in defending clients charged with child abuse. They will examine your case and recognize what the strongest defense available is, based on the facts.

Child Endangerment – Penal Code section 273(a)

Under California Penal Code section 273(a) (PC 273(a)), it is illegal to willfully allow a child in your care or custody to suffer harm or to have his/her safety or health endangered. Basically, child endangerment can occur in one of three ways:

Willfully causing or permitting a child to suffer or be injured
Inflicting unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering on a child
Willfully causing or permitting a child in your custody to be endangered

Note that PC 273(a) does not require that the child suffer any actual injury. Because of this, it is too easy for innocent people to be charged with child endangerment. Many times false accusations arise during custody disputes when one parent tries to gain an upper hand.

Penalties for Child Endangerment

Child endangerment may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor*. A defendant convicted of child endangerment as a felony faces a sentence of 2, 4, or 6 years in state prison. A defendant convicted of child endangerment as a misdemeanor faces a sentence of up to one year in county jail.

*If there is no risk of great bodily harm to the child, the charge will be a misdemeanor.

Defenses to Child Endangerment

The attorneys at McDowell & Associates, Attorneys are very experienced in defending clients facing child endangerment charges. Depending on the facts of each individual case, there are different defenses that may be available, including:

You were not the person responsible for the child or the person who caused the endangerment
The “endangerment” did not happen intentionally
You were acting within your rights to discipline the child
You have been falsely accused

Elder Abuse – Penal Code section 368

Under California Penal Code section 368 (PC 368), it is illegal to inflict physical abuse, emotional abuse, neglect, endangerment, or financial fraud on a victim 65 years of age or older. This is often charged against elderly caregivers, but it may be charged against anyone who commits these offenses against an elderly victim.

Penalties for Elder Abuse

Elder abuse may be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor offense. Whether it is charged as a felony or a misdemeanor depends on the facts of your case as well as your criminal history. The possible penalties for elderly abuse may include any or all of the following:

Misdemeanor
Informal (summary) probation
Up to 1 year in county jail
Up to $6,000 in fines, or $10,000 for a second offense
Restitution to the victim
Counseling

Felony
Formal probation
2 to 4 years in state prison
Additional and consecutive 3 to 7 years if victim suffers great bodily injury
Up to $10,000 in fines
Restitution
Counseling

Defenses to Elder Abuse

The attorneys at McDowell & Associates, Attorneys are very experienced in defending clients charged with elder abuse in California. Based on the specific facts of your case, there are several defenses our attorneys may be able to make on your behalf. Some of these defenses include:

The injury was the result of an accident
False accusations/wrongful arrest
​Many times false accusations arise when some family members disagree on the care and/or financial arrangements other family members have put in place for the elderly loved one.
Mistaken identity
Insufficient evidence
Abuse was an isolated incident

Criminal Threats – Penal Code section 422

Under California Penal Code section 422 (PC 422), it is illegal to threaten to kill or physically harm someone and

The threat is specific, unequivocal, unconditional, and immediate,
You communicate the threat verbally, in writing, or via an electronic communication device, AND
The person to whom the threat is made is placed in a state of reasonably sustained fear for his/her safety or for the safety of his/her immediate family,

It does not matter whether you actually have the ability or intention to carry out the threat.

Penalties for Criminal Threats

Criminal threats can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor offense. If charged as a misdemeanor, a defendant who is convicted faces up to 1 year in county jail. If charged as a felony, a defendant who is convicted faces up to 3 years in county jail. Additionally, if a dangerous or deadly weapon is used, the sentence increases by one year. Furthermore, a criminal threat conviction is a strike under California’s Three Strike’s law. This means that 85% of the sentence must be served before eligible for release.

Defenses to Charges of Criminal Threats

Fortunately, there are several defenses that the attorneys at McDowell & Associates, Attorneys may be able to put forward in your case. These defenses include:

The threat was not specific
The person to whom the threat was made could not reasonably have been in fear
The person to whom the threat was made was not actually in fear
If the person was in fear, the fear was only fleeting
You did not communicate the threat verbally, in writing, or electronically
You have been falsely accused

Contact McDowell & Associates, Attorneys

We know that it can be troublesome when you need to act quickly to access money. But often, obtaining valuable information on your case will depend on when you hire your attorney. Again, the old cliché “the sooner the better,” fits, as you don’t want to lose valuable witnesses, video, or other evidence which can be lost or destroyed quickly and easily. Call McDowell & Associates, Attorneys today to discuss the best financial arrangement possible for your particular situation at 213-401-2322.