Domestic violence is an offense when the alleged victim is a romantic partner, household member, family member or a child. Sometimes, violence doesn't even necessarily have to be involved for one to be apprehended and thrown in jail for merely being accused of this crime. If you have been accused of domestic violence it's important that you immediately contact a criminal defense attorney to advocate for you.
Domestic Battery [CA PC §243(e)(1)]
Under California law, battery is the willful and unlawful use of force or violence on another person. Therefore, the crime of domestic battery is constituted depending on who the crime is commissioned against. A person is guilty of this offense if they commit an act of violence against any of the following parties:
- A current romantic partner or ex-romantic partner
- A current spouse or ex-spouse
- The child of a current spouse or ex-spouse
- Any person considered a family member (whether that be by blood, marriage or adoption)
- A cohabitant or a former cohabitant
For example, if a woman and her boyfriend are in the midst of a heated argument and she ends up pushing him out of anger, this act alone could constitute as domestic battery. Unlike many other crimes that involve physical force, a person can be convicted of this offense despite not causing harm or injury to another person. All prosecutors must prove is that a defendant acted forcefully or violently against an accuser in order for him or her to be prosecuted.
California Domestic Battery Penalties
This offense is classified as a misdemeanor in California. Upon conviction, one will face up to one year spent in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,000.
Corporal Injury [CA PC §273.5]
A person is guilty of corporal injury if he or she willfully inflicts injury on the following parties, causing a traumatic condition:
- A current spouse
- Former inhabitant or current inhabitant
- The mother or father of a defendant's child
An example of this offense would be a man who punches his romantic partner in the arm hard enough to leave bruises.
A “traumatic condition” is defined in California statutes as a wound or other bodily injury - whether minor or serious - prompted by the direct application of physical force. The causation of this condition is the main element in this offense that distinguishes a domestic battery charge from a corporal injury charge. Some examples of a traumatic injury include a black eye, broken bones, bruises, sprains etc.
California Corporal Injury Penalties
In California, corporal injury can be convicted as either a misdemeanor or a felony. Within a case, prosecutors will examine individualized factors such as the degree of harm inflicted, prior criminal history, and the circumstantial evidence to determine charges.
If charged as a misdemeanor, a corporal injury penalty carries a sentence of up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $6,000. If prosecutors charge this crime as a felony, one may spend two, three, or four years in a California prison.
Child Abuse [CA PC §273(d)]
A defendant may be prosecuted for child abuse if he or she inflicts upon a child a cruel physical punishment or an injury resulting in a traumatic condition.
Although there are several forms of child abuse mentioned in California law, this statute solely covers physical abuse towards a child. It's important to note that this offense doesn't necessarily require substantial bodily injury. Any physical harm, no matter how minor, committed against a minor (someone under the age of 18) constitutes as child abuse. Prosecutors are known to fight vigorously in cases of this nature.
An example of this form of child abuse would be using a belt to discipline a child or partaking in a physical altercation with a pre-teen or teenager.
California Child Abuse Penalties
This crime can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of a case. Prior offenses and case factors will be considered to determine the charge of this offense.
When child abuse is charged as a misdemeanor, one could spend up to one year in jail. When this offense is charged as a felony, a defendant could spend two, four, or six years in jail. Additional time could be added if there are prior offenses.
Child Endangerment [CA PC §273(a)]
Under California law, a person is guilty of child endangerment if he or she puts a child in a dangerous system or allows for a child to be put in a dangerous child without taking precautions to protect the child.
In order for a defendant to be convicted of this crime, it must be proven in a court of law that he or she committed one of the following acts:
- Willfully caused or permitted a child to suffer physical pain or mental suffering
- Willfully caused or permitted a child to be placed in a situation where the child suffers physical pain or mental suffering
In contrast to California child abuse laws, a conviction for child endangerment does not require evidence of harm or injury inflicted upon a child. The mere fact that a child could have been injured can lead the defendant to be prosecuted. This element is what lands some innocent people behind bars.
Leaving a child in the hands of a person you know has exhibited abusive behavior, or leaving a child alone with access to things that could hurt them (knives, firearms etc.), for example, would be actions that constitute child endangerment.
California Child Endangerment Penalties
Child endangerment can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
If there was a high risk that the child could have experienced serious bodily injury or death, this offense would be charged as a felony. This is punishable by up to six years in a state prison. A misdemeanor child endangerment offense would include up to one year in a county jail.
Experienced California Domestic Violence Attorneys
If you have been accused of domestic violence, it's imperative you contact a skilled defense attorney. Contact experienced attorney Harris B. Taback's law office at (415) 241-1400 or contact him online for a free consultation.