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Domestic violence negatively impacts the lives of everyone involved. From victims who sustain physical, emotional, and psychological harm to offenders who must face the legal consequences of their actions, these incidents strain familial bonds and hold individuals back from reaching their potential in society. A single domestic violence charge can do considerable harm to the alleged offender’s reputation. What’s more? Individuals with domestic violence restraining orders against them must deal with court-imposed restrictions that can make their daily life a living nightmare.
What to Expect from a Domestic Violence Charge in California
A domestic violence charge in California may be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the details of the incident and whether or not the individual has a prior record. Many domestic violence offenders have never been arrested or charged with a crime. Just one arrest is all it takes to mark you as a domestic abuser in the eyes of the law.
When an individual is accused of domestic violence more than once, they are at risk for a lifetime of legal trouble. A single domestic violence conviction invites them to walk down an unwanted path where statistics indicate a bleak future. According to the Public Policy Institute of California,
- 53% of individuals who are arrested for domestic violence have no prior history of domestic violence arrests
- Three out of every five individuals convicted of domestic violence are rearrested within 2 years
- Two out of every three of those rearrested after a domestic violence conviction committed a repeat domestic violence offense
As you can see, one act of domestic violence may spark a cycle of negativity for years to come.
Legal Troubles You May Face Due to Repeat Domestic Violence Charges
The penalties for a conviction of a domestic violence charge 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’s your very first offense, a judge may sentence you to probation instead of jail. You may or may not be placed on probation. Other possible penalties 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 may include:
- Up to one year in a county jail, or
- Up to four years in state prison, and/or
- A fine of up to $6,000
California Three Strikes Law
In California, a felony domestic violence conviction may qualify as a strike under the state’s Three Strikes rule. Under this law, the judge may impose increasingly harsher sentences until you reach your third qualifying conviction, or “strike.” Upon your third conviction of a felony domestic violence offense, you may face a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.
The purpose of the Three Strikes Law is to dramatically increase the punishment for felony convictions for individuals who have previously been convicted of one or more “serious” or “violent” felonies. Serious or violent felonies include offenses defined in Penal Code Section 667.5 (c) and 1192.7 (c).
Repeat Domestic Violence Charges Can Impact Your Family Life
In most cases of domestic violence, even first offenses, judges tend to impose restraining orders to prevent victims from associating with their alleged abusers. Such a restraining order will ban you from having contact with the victim. A restraining order due to domestic violence may impose restrictions such as:
- Keeping you away from the victim’s home, school, or place of work
- Keeping you from contacting the victim, their children, or other relatives
- Keeping you away from pets
- Forcing you to move out if you live with the victim
- Not owning or keeping a gun
- Not making changes to insurance policies
Additionally, a restraining order may require you to:
- Pay child or spousal support or other bills
- Return any of the victim’s property
- Complete a 52-week batterer intervention program
A domestic violence conviction may also influence your custody and visitation rights if you and your victim are divorced or undergoing divorce proceedings. The State of California holds the child’s wellbeing above all others, so you may lose custody or visitation rights.
Contact a San Diego Domestic Violence Defense Attorney
After a domestic violence charge, you need to seriously consider hiring a qualified defense lawyer to protect your reputation and future. These charges are taken seriously by the state of California, and you could face severe consequences if you’re convicted. Unfortunately, criminal convictions tend to follow individuals for life, even after they serve their sentences.
Attorney Dod of Dod Law has more than 17 years of experience defending domestic violence and related charges in San Diego. He has worked on more than 6,500 criminal defense cases, and he has a 10.0 “Superb” Avvo rating. Call 619-814-5110 for a free consultation or complete our contact form.