If you have had a domestic violence accusation files against you, it is imperative that you inform yourself of your rights since accusations of domestic violence can have lasting effects on your life. These accusations may affect your job, relationships, and reputation.
If you are dealing with domestic violence charges or accusations, it is important for you to seek out the advice of an attorney that handles criminal defense cases. The consequences of a conviction for domestic violence can be devastating, so you will want to have an attorney on your side that has experience handling these types of cases. Contact California criminal defense attorney Johann Hall today to set up your consultation to discuss your case.
What Is Domestic Violence?
Many people consider domestic violence to be a physical act of violence against one’s spouse or domestic partner. However, the scope of domestic violence is wider than that. Domestic violence includes acts perpetrated against a spouse, former spouse, cohabitant in the home, and any former or current romantic partner, as well as a child. Domestic violence also includes threats of violence, even if the threats are not carried out. Common domestic violence crimes include physical abuse, battery, neglect, child abuse and endangerment, and threats.
Is Domestic Violence Charged as a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
Most of the time, domestic violence charges are charged as a misdemeanor. However, there are certain circumstances in which an act of domestic violence will be charged as a felony. In California, these types of crimes are referred to as “wobbler” offenses. This means that the crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, which depends on several factors such as the seriousness of the alleged injuries, the circumstances of the offense, and if there is any prior criminal record for the alleged perpetrator.
Circumstances in which an act of domestic violence is typically charged as a felony include:
- A sexual assault on the victim
- Serious bodily injury to the victim
- Sexual assault or bodily harm was caused to a minor victim
Additionally, you may be charged with a felony for a domestic violence crime if you have had prior convictions for other acts of domestic violence or if you have prior convictions for certain other crimes. If you are convicted of a felony, you may have significant long-term consequences, which may include failing to secure a wanted job position or being unable to rent an apartment or home due to the failure of meeting background check requirements.
Other Consequences for a Domestic Violence Conviction
Other than the fact that being convicted of a felony is detrimental to your future, a domestic violence conviction has many other consequences. These consequences include mandatory minimum jail time, payment of victim restitution or fines, having a restraining order put in place against you, potential loss of your child custody rights or having less parenting time with your children, participation in a “batterer’s program,” loss of gun rights in the state of California, immigration consequences for a non-citizen, and a permanent criminal record.
Jail and Probation
In most areas of California, a judge will order someone convicted of domestic violence to spend time in jail, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony. There may also be a period of probation added to the sentence.
Payment of victim restitution may include things like payment of their medical bills for the injuries they suffered as a result of the domestic violence, counseling or therapy for their mental health, and property damage. Another consequence is that the defendant may be ordered to pay a fine of $500 to help fund domestic violence prevention programs in the state of California.
It is common for a judge to order the defendant to attend a “batterer’s program.” This program is a year-long counseling and treatment program aimed at rehabilitating those convicted of domestic violence to teach them coping strategies and ways to avoid repeating these behaviors.
In many cases, being convicted of domestic violence in California will cause you to lose your right to own or possess a firearm for a certain period of time. According to California Penal Code 29805, a misdemeanor conviction for domestic violence can cause you to have a ten-year long ban on possession of firearms. If the misdemeanor crime is one that qualifies under federal law, your conviction can cause you to have a ban on owning or possessing a firearm for the rest of your life.
If you are convicted of a felony offense of domestic violence, then you will face a lifetime ban on firearms. Both federal and California state law require this ban for felony domestic violence offenses.