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San Diego Domestic Violence Lawyer
An allegation of domestic abuse can damage your reputation. Rumors implying that you’ve struck a partner or family member can spread quickly and strain relationships between you and your loved ones. Unfortunately, domestic violence cases are notoriously difficult to prove in court. However, with a skilled litigator like Attorney Dod on your side, you can give yourself the best chance possible to retain your freedom and reputation.
Dod Law, APC, is a San Diego criminal defense law firm that serves clients throughout the San Diego area and California. Led by Attorney Dod, our team has 17 years of legal experience defending domestic violence charges. A domestic violence conviction can lead to severe penalties, including incarceration, fines, and probation. When you work with our team, you give yourself the opportunity to fight for the best possible outcome.
What is Considered Domestic Violence in San Diego, California?
Abuse, whether physical, verbal, emotional, or psychological, could result in the filing of a criminal charge. This charge would be considered “domestic violence” if the threats or abuse were inflicted upon a person with whom there is a close connection. This could include a familial or romantic relationship, such as:
- A spouse or domestic partner (current or former)
- An intimate partner, such as a boyfriend or girlfriend (current or former)
- Your child
- The mother or father of your child
- Another close family member
California Family Code section 6203 states that abuse includes any instance of:
- Physically hurting an individual or attempting to do so
- Threatening physical abuse
- Sexual assault
- Harassing or stalking behavior
Suppose you or someone you care about is facing domestic violence charges. In that case, it is crucial to appoint an experienced and skilled criminal defense attorney such as Attorney Dod to be your legal advocate.
Possible Penalties for a Domestic Violence Conviction in San Diego
Domestic violence is a criminal act that the California courts take very seriously. Domestic violence crimes often fall in the gray area between misdemeanors and felony charges. These “gray area” charges are known as “wobbler” offenses in California, which means that prosecutors can charge a defendant with either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the details of the case. The difference in the possible penalties that a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction carries is substantial compared to the punishments for a felony charge.
The consequences of a domestic violence conviction include not just those enforced by the court but also effects that can impact the rest of your life. These penalties also increase for every repeat conviction. Your first charge of misdemeanor domestic battery, for example, may result in:
- Fines of up to $2,000
- Up to a year in county jail
- Participation in a batterer intervention program
- Community service
If it is your first offense, a judge may sentence you to probation instead of jail. Other penalties could include being ordered to pay for the victim’s mental health counseling and donating to a woman’s shelter.
For a felony domestic violence charge, such as a charge of felony corporal injury to a spouse, your potential punishment upon a conviction could include:
- Up to one year in county jail
- Up to four years in state prison
- A fine of up to $6,000
If you have been accused of domestic violence, you deserve quality representation from an attorney who understands the complexities of domestic violence cases in California courtrooms.
What Makes a Domestic Violence Charge a Felony in San Diego?
When determining whether to issue a charge for a misdemeanor or felony offense for domestic violence, the prosecutor will consider the severity of each injury caused and the entirety of injuries inflicted.
A felony-level domestic violence crime includes:
- Corporal Injury to a spouse in violation of California Penal Code Section 273.5(a)
- Criminal threats in violation of California Penal Code Section 422
A corporal injury is when physical force is inflicted and causes a traumatic condition, defined as “a wound, or external or internal injury … whether of a minor or serious nature.”
Every domestic violence case is unique, but a misdemeanor offense can be raised to a felony under certain circumstances. For example, if there were any previous convictions for violent crimes (such as a domestic battery or assault with a deadly weapon), the charge could be elevated to felony status.
The penalty of a felony charge for domestic violence includes time in prison if convicted. Under California’s Three Strikes law, a domestic violence conviction can be regarded as a “strike.” Multiple strikes for violent repeat offenders have the potential to increase the length of a prison sentence.
What are the Terms of Probation for a San Diego Domestic Violence Conviction?
If you are charged with a misdemeanor domestic violence offense, such as domestic battery under California Penal Code Section 243(e)(1), you could be penalized with supervised or unsupervised probation.
Probation is an alternative form of sentencing that allows you to serve your sentence outside of jail or prison. It is meant to serve three purposes: protect the public, heal the victim, and rehabilitate the offender. Several conditions are generally required to be fulfilled during probation. Offenders must not, for example, violate any other laws during their time under probation, or it will result in a probation violation.
Terms of probation might include:
- Time served in jail before probation
- Anger management counseling
- Domestic violence counseling
- Community service or labor hours
- Restitution payments
- Other court fines
- Regularly reporting to a probation officer
- Paying restitution to victims
- Submitting to random drug tests
If the court requires counseling for anger management or domestic violence, all sessions must be attended. If a defendant misses a session or does not complete the program in a timely fashion, they could face further consequences.
What Does a Protective Order Do in San Diego, California?
California criminal courts will typically issue a protective order (commonly called a “restraining order”) against domestic violence offenders. This court-appointed order prohibits any contact or communication with a victim.
Should a victim request it, the judge may consider altering the protective order to allow peaceful contact between the parties. Depending on the circumstances, a judge may still impose a complete protective order, even if the victim wants to reinstate contact. For families striving to work through their differences and stay together, a required protective order can be upsetting.
A protective order implemented due to domestic violence could impose restrictions such as:
- Keeping the defendant away from the victim’s home, school, or place of work
- Keeping the defendant from contacting the victim, their children, or other relatives
- Keeping the defendant away from pets
- Forcing the defendant to move out if they live with the victim
- Not owning or keeping a gun
- Not making changes to insurance policies
- Pay child or spousal support or other bills
- Return any of the victim’s property
- Complete a 52-week batterer intervention program
If an offender intentionally violates a restraining order, they could face a probation violation and new criminal charges according to California Penal Code Section 273.6.
What Other Consequences Can Come from a Domestic Violence Conviction in San Diego?
If you are convicted of a domestic violence crime, you could face additional penalties imposed by the court. A conviction for domestic violence results in a criminal record that shows up on any background check and can jeopardize your opportunities with potential employers.
Other adverse consequences of a domestic violence conviction could include:
- Irreparable damage to your reputation
- Losing your professional license
- Prohibiting you to own a firearm
- Deportation for non-citizens
If you are facing charges for domestic violence in San Diego, partner with an accomplished violent crimes defense attorney like Attorney Dod to build a robust defense to protect your future and freedom.
How Can You Defend a Domestic Violence Charge in San Diego, California?
Domestic violence charges are more severe than charges for assault or battery. California prosecutors crack down on domestic violence accusations, even if the defendant has been wrongly accused out of anger or jealousy. If placed on your permanent criminal record, a domestic violence charge will surface in all of your future background checks, hindering your ability to secure housing or employment forever.
Prosecutors must prove that an individual accused of domestic violence acted violently and intentionally. They must also prove that the act resulted in a traumatic injury. However, there are defenses that a qualified attorney may be able to use to defend your case, such as:
- A lack of intent
- False accusations
- Lack of concrete proof
No matter the circumstances surrounding your domestic violence case, Attorney Dod will fight to achieve the best outcome possible for your situation.
Defend a Domestic Violence Charge with a Highly Rated San Diego Attorney
False allegations are common in domestic violence cases and can be a way for the actual abuser to shift responsibility onto the abused individual. With a domestic violence defense lawyer like Attorney Dod on your side, there is hope that you can preserve your reputation and avoid penalties. With an exemplary 10.0 Avvo rating, Dod Law, APC, in Vista and Downtown San Diego, California, will do everything we can to protect your rights. For a free consultation, contact us in San Diego at 619-489-8804 or complete our contact form.
Frequently Asked Questions About Domestic Violence in San Diego
What are the most common domestic violence charges in California?
- Penal Code 273.5 — Corporal Injury To Spouse/Cohabitant
- Penal Code 422 —Making Criminal threats
- Penal Code 136.1 – Dissuading or Intimidating a Witness
- Penal Code 236 — False imprisonment
What will happen after being arrested for a domestic violence offense in California?
After being arrested for a domestic violence offense, there might be an emergency protective order where you and the protected party cannot have any contact for a certain period of time. A detective will be assigned the case, do a follow-up investigation, and send the case to the district attorney. The district attorney will then decide whether or not to file charges. Just because you were arrested for domestic violence does not mean you will be charged. This is why you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to prevent charges from being filed.
When should I hire a domestic violence lawyer?
You should hire a domestic violence criminal lawyer immediately after being arrested whether you are in custody or out of custody. You should hire an attorney the following day so the attorney can get in contact with the detective prior to sending the case to the district attorney.