I HAVE BEEN CHARGED WITH DOMESTIC VIOLENCE IN CALIFORNIA. WHAT NOW?
California law makes it a crime to use physical force or threaten harm against an intimate partner. This is charged as domestic violence. These can include a current or former spouse or partner, whether in a heterosexual, homosexual or polyamorous context. Other domestic relationships - including those with a child or caregiver - can rise to domestic violence in the form of child abuse, child endangerment or battery.
Penalties for domestic violence depend on the seriousness of the accuser's injuries and the nature of the defendant's prior criminal record. For a misdemeanor conviction, a minimum of 10-30 days in jail and fines are common, as is the requirement to attend a 52 batters' treatment class and the imposition of a restraining/protective order. A felony conviction may result in a prison sentence of 2, 3 or 4 years plus fines.
Standard defenses are available here too (lack of evidence, lack of intent and false accusations) but specifically, a common defense is that the defendant did not initiate the contact but was in fact acting in self-defense or engaged in mutual combat.
A qualified defense attorney's most important job is to make sure that the defendant and his family navigate this difficult and intensely personal process as smoothly as possible. Hiring someone who has extensive experience in the area of domestic violence law and knows how to best position your defense is key.
Domestic Violence Law in California (Overview)
Family Crisis Resource Guide
Database of Court Ordered Cases