Domestic Violence Guide

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Los Angeles Domestic Violence Attorneys

Getting charged with domestic violence in Los Angeles can result in serious consequences-even before being convicted of a crime. You or a loved one who is charged with domestic violence can be banned from your home. You can have a restraining order entered which stops you from seeing your children. Experienced Los Angeles domestic violence attorneys know that, in many domestic violence cases, there are gray areas the police and prosecutors try to paint as black and white. If you are charged with domestic violence, contact an experienced Los Angeles domestic violence lawyer to start the process of clearing your name.

The California Penal Code (Penal Coe §13700 PC) defines domestic violence as abuse committed against an intimate partner. An intimate partner can be a current or former spouse, domestic partner or live-in boyfriend/girlfriend.

It can also be a person with whom the defendant had a child with or with whom the defendant previously had a dating relationship. Common Types of Domestic Violence

Below are several types of domestic violence which occur in California:

Corporal Injury to a Spouse or Cohabitant

Under Penal Code §273.5, it is illegal to cause a physical injury to an intimate partner. Even if the defendant causes a slight injury to the intimate partner, the police can charge the defendant with violating Penal Code §273.5.

Inflicting a corporal injury to an intimate partner is a felony. For a first-time offender, the penalty can range from one year in county jail up to four years in state prison. The length of the sentence will depend on the circumstances surrounding the crime and the severity of the injury to the intimate partner.

Domestic Battery

Domestic battery is defined in Penal Code §243(1) as the defendant inflicting force or violence on an intimate partner. The difference between domestic battery and causing a corporal injury is that in a domestic battery there is no injury to the victim. A domestic battery can occur if two intimate partners are having a heated argument and one partner touches the other partner in a rude or angry manner.

Domestic battery is a misdemeanor.

A conviction on a charge of domestic battery can lead to up to one year in county jail and up to a $2,000 fine. The California Penal Code recognizes several types of domestic violence when the victims are children:

Child Abuse

Child abuse is covered by Penal Code §273(d). Child abuse occurs when the defendant acts with the intent to injure a child and causes a visible injury to the child.

In addition, the actions of the defendant that caused the injuries to the child victim were not part of reasonable discipline of the child.

California does not ban spanking of children. But the spanking must not be excessive.

Child abuse is a “wobbler.” Depending on the facts, and the injuries to the child, child abuse can be a misdemeanor (up to one year in county jail) or a felony (up to three years in state prison).

Child Endangerment

Child endangerment (Penal Code §273(a)) occurs if the defendant inflicts or permits someone else to inflict unjustifiable pain or emotional distress to a child.

Child endangerment can also be charged if the defendant causes or permits a child to be placed in a dangerous situation. The police can charge a person with child endangerment even if there is no physical injury to the child.

Child endangerment is a wobbler. The key factor as to whether the police will charge a defendant with a misdemeanor or felony is whether there was a risk to the child of great bodily harm or death.

Child Neglect

Penal Code §270 PC covers the crime of child neglect. Child neglect occurs when a parent willfully fails to provide a child with the common necessities of life-food, shelter, clothing, etc. Child neglect is a misdemeanor. Conviction of child neglect charges carries with it a county jail sentence of up to one year and up to a $2,000 fine.

Note the “willfully” in the crime’s description; if a parent fails to properly feed or cloth his/her child because of poverty, there is no crime.

California’s domestic violence laws also include elder abuse. Elder Abuse

Penal Code §368 PC protects abuse victims over 65 years of age. §368 prohibits persons from subjecting an elderly person to physical or emotional abuse. It is further against California law to neglect or endanger an elderly person. Lastly, §368 further prohibits financial frauds against elderly people.

Elder abuse cases are wobblers. Whether they will be treated as a misdemeanor or felony will depend upon the amount of harm inflicted on the elderly person.

As a misdemeanor, an elder abuse conviction can result in one year in county jail. As a felony, the sentence can be up to four years in state prison.

Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction In addition to jail time and fines, California imposes several additional consequences if you are convicted of a domestic violence charge. This includes mandatory minimum jail time, attendance at domestic violence classes, victim restitution, a permanent criminal record and loss of custody rights re: minor children.

If the domestic violence incident includes a deadly weapon, the police will charge the defendant with assault with a deadly weapon (Penal Code §245 PC). This is considered a violent felony and is deemed is a “strike” under California’s three strike law.

If you are not an American citizen, conviction a domestic crime can lead deportation and/or denial of a green card.

What Are the Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges?

Experienced Los Angeles domestic violence lawyers know that the events leading up to domestic violence charges can be confusing and the result of an unfortunate eruption of emotions between two people. Often, there are hints of a he said/she said situation. Consequently, there are several defenses to domestic violence charges in Los Angeles.

  • The victim was injured in an accident
  • The defendant did not cause the victim’s injuries
  • The accusations are false
  • The accusations were made to get leverage in a divorce and/or custody litigation
  • The defendant acted in self-defense

Have You Been Charged with Domestic Violence? Get Experienced Los Angeles Domestic Violence Lawyers

Conviction of domestic violence charges in Los Angeles can lead to jail time, fines and other financial penalties. You can lose access to your home and children for an indefinite period of time. Yet, the circumstances surrounding domestic violence charges can be murky and the result of unfortunate misunderstandings. In those situations, knowledgeable Los Angeles domestic violence attorneys can make the difference between being convicted of a felony and having the prosecutors drop the charges because of insufficient or contradictory evidence.

Daniel Perlman and Matthew Cohen are experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Perlman & Cohen. They have represented clients in all types of domestic violence cases in Los Angeles and surrounding courts. Perlman & Cohen will stand by you as they help you fight the domestic violence charges. Call them at (310) 299-0062 to set up a free consultation to prepare your defense.

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